Thinking about photography and privacy in the deepest undersea tunnel

I took the express train from Aomori to Hakodate. This train passes through the longest and deepest undersea tunnel in the world – between Honshu and Hokkaido. While in the tunnel, the ride is as comfortable as it can be, it is not scary at all, and there is nothing much to look at. So I started looking at the travel magazine in the seat pocket.

Face blurred in a photo

I noticed that whenever a public space is shown, the editors blurred out the faces of the people. I had always assumed that posting images of people in public is fine. I like to study how people use technology and I probably have dozens of such images (of people in various countries using their mobiles etc) on my web. Now more I think about it, I feel I should respect people’s privacy more. These days I take pictures in ways where the faces cannot be identified or I try to blur the face just like in this picture.

Some questions

Do we inform people at an event that we will be posting the pictures online?

Would camera apps in future rather than tagging the faces you have shot will instead blur them out by default?

Some resources

iPhone photo app to hide parts of your body and face (Warning, the site has some naughty pics)

Android app to hide faces and other recognizable aspects from a picture.

Myanmar IT magazines and open source intelligence

Internet Journal is a popular IT magazine in Myanmar. I always like to get a copy from the local Myanmar enclave whenever I can. It helps me figure out what devices and technologies are popular in Myanmar when I am away from The country for an extended period.

Internet Journal from Myanmar

Not just limited to Myanmar, but I would often buy Thai, Vietnamese and other magazines too. I can’t read most of these languages. But, even glancing at the photos gives me an idea of what technology and fashion are currently popular. These magazines also give me topics that help start a conversation when I meet a person from these countries.

Time we start going through the privacy and data policy of tools we teach in our technology sessions

I often run technology sessions for educators and professionals. Lately, I have been updating my lesson plans with an activity where I ask the participants to research the privacy and data policy of the services we are exploring. I feel it is important for us to know the company and their policies before we start posting our data. It is also a good idea to know if a service is popular, are their any negative comments regarding the service and how well has the company supported users.

Below  is an excerpt from a workshop on Evernote. The participants will have to  google for the answer to these questions. I am hoping it becomes a habit with me and my students. We should’nt join a service unless we spend some time looking at the policies or at least finding more information about the company.

What is Evernote’s data policy?

Who owns your data?

Under what conditions will Evernote pass your information to other services?

How long have they been in business? 

Who are the competitors and alternative services?

Best way to learn

In my drifting life, I often crash in on campuses across Asia, seeing what is being discussed. Also, such events often have free food (free food tastes better than the one you pay for).

In one such campus, I happened to find an ex-student talking to current students on how to study better. I was expecting some fancy method but the ex-student had a single slide with these words. 

Share out loud.

An old raincoat won't ever let you down

These traveling companions are worn and falling apart. Yet they are comfortable. Such are the times when I miss my Saigon backstreets where an equally weathered man can fixes my shoes, and gives me the news of the town. 

People often ask me the best phone for travel.  I will recommend the Nokia 1280. This is the sole phone I am using at the moment. The reason I like this phone is that you’ll only need to charge it once every 10 days or less.

The screen easy to read in bright sun. At night the backlight is bright enough. There is also a flashlight feature that is helpful when you in places where power is often out.  The phone is light. This phone was launched in 2010 and it is probably the last non color phone you can buy. I bought mine about a year back in Vietnam and it was 20 USD.

I will highly recommend getting this phone while they are still selling them. Just keep it in your travel bag. Even if you have a smartphone, just buy a cheap sim card and slot it in the Nokia 1280. It is a good backup to have. I also bought an USB to Nokia charging cable, this lets you ditch the charger. A caution though, this phone will not work in Japan as it has no 3G radio.

The title of this post is another song from the 1970s that I like.

Come across a mention of a book on a website, find the book on Kindle store via this bookmarklet

You often encounter mention of a book on a web page or a blogpost. Sometimes you are intrigued enough to buy (or perhaps download a sample chapter of) the book. You probably end up doing these actions.

Highlight the name of the book and copy it.

Open website.

Select the Kindle book from the search field options.

Paste the book that you copied earlier and run the search.

I find this a bit tedious. So I made a bookmarklet (by made I mean, I found a bookmarklet on the net that was doing some other search and I changed the code a bit to search the Kindle store)

If you want to install this bookmarklet in your browser, head on to

Ivan Zimine on open events for technology and science and programming for non-geeks

Ivan is a scientist and technology populariser. I have have collaborated with Ivan to run two WorkCamps. WorkCamps are un-conferences where we discuss the changing nature of work, collaboration, incentives and renumeration. In this recording Ivan talks about what prompted him to run the WorkCamp. We also talk about his other interests and a programming course that he is running for non-tech people.

Container Terminal 9

I was in Tsing Yi in Hong Kong. From my window I could see the Container Terminal 9 stretching all the way to Rambler’s Channel. I have always been curious about how well the global logistics system works.

And then I wondered about the history of containers. Who first thought about moving things in metal boxes? How did so many companies and ports standardize on the size of containers? How does the system work so well?   A search on Amazon, and I found The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger .

Learn how a truck driver went on to build the container shipping system.

Across the Sea of Japan

I went to Niigata because I wanted to see the Sea of Japan. I had never previously been to the western part of Honshu. it was good that I went there - it was warmer and the sky was clear. Japan sea seems bluer and more rough. There was hardly anyone on the beach. 
Mousan found tis plastic bottle on the beach. There was Korean text on the bottle. It says “Elite”. The design of the bottle and the printing looked much simple compared to what South Korean sport.  We speculated that it must be from North Korea. Looks like sunscreen, Wow!! it must have drifted from the East coast of Korea, a journey of 900 kilometres.