Jean Snow [.net]

Jean Snow is Executive Director of the PechaKucha organization. He also runs the PechaKucha Night series in Tokyo -- please get in touch if you are interested in presenting at a future event. For a more intimate salon-like discussion group, join him at his monthly PauseTalk event. He also organizes PressPause, a series of workshops with the goal of learning to use the Unity engine, and to produce games as a group.

A longtime resident of Tokyo, he lives and breathes design, pop culture, and gaming, sustained by an unhealthy addiction to magazines and frequent visits to his favorites cafes. He has reported on these obsessions for various online/offline publications, including the following: Time, Inside (Australian Design Review), Gizmodo, Gridskipper, Kotaku, 1UP, Tokyo Q, Superfuture, OK Fred, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, I.D. (International Design), Metropolis, Azure, MoCo Loco, Kateigaho International Edition, Wired's Game|Life, PingMag, CNNGo, Phaidon, and The Japan Times.

This Is October

This is this, and that’s that.

A bit of an update on the various things I’m involved with, starting with the very happy announcement that was made a week ago that PressPause is coming back for a second season, starting on Thursday, November 6 (at 20:00). We — me and my fellow organizers, Daryl Cole and Ryan Ruel — wanted to take some time to reconfigure things, in order to produce something that would work better in light of what we experienced with season 1. I explain it more in detail in this post on the PressPause site, but in short, we want it to feel more inclusive to people who can’t really commit to spending a lot of time on producing an actual finished game, but who still want to get a taste of what it takes to make one. We’ll still have lessons — and homework for those who want to put into practice what they learned — but we’ll also have a speaker each time, and we have a nice ending in mind that we’ll talk about more next year.

So if you’re interested in the making of games, and more specifically using Unity as a tool to make that happen, then please join us. You’ll find updates on the PressPause site, and you can now follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or subscribe to a newsletter.

As for PauseTalk, I apologize again for cancelling this month’s edition due to the typhoon. The typhoon business was actually all done fairly early in the day, and so there wouldn’t have been a problem, but I had to make the decision the day before, and didn’t want to take a chance — especially that we tend to get a lower turnout even when it’s just a rainy day. 

PauseTalk Vol. 82 will instead happen on Monday, November 10 — yes, it’s on the second Monday of the month instead of the first, to avoid clashing with the holiday and the end of Tokyo Designers Week. Hope to see a nice turnout then.

Although I’m not involved in producing PauseDraw, I’m really happy to see what’s happening with the series under the leadership of Luis Mendo, Adrian Hogan, and Eiko Nagase. After a summer hiatus, they were planning on restarting last week, which was also cancelled because of the typhoon, and so instead it’s happening today (Sunday, October 12). Follow them on Facebook or Twitter to stay updated on upcoming editions.

Lastly — but certainly not leastly — is our big Tokyo Designers Week edition of PechaKucha Night at the end of the month. As with the past couple of years, we’re having a big event under the dome on the TDW grounds, in a space that can hold up to 1000 attendees. I think we have a great lineup planned — with a possible surprise or two — and I’m especially happy that we got the creative director and lead dancer at the Robot Restaurant to present — should make for a fun presentation. It happens on Wednesday, October 29, and you’ll find the rest of the details here.

Oh, and I don’t mention it much here, but I do still write my monthly “On: Design” column for The Japan Times, which now gets published on the first Saturday of the month. The latest edition was published last week, and can be read online here.

So yeah, a big October (and start of November) with lots happening. Add to that much cooler weather and you have the makings of some nice times here in Tokyo.

Drawing for Life

Adrian Hogan breathes drawing.

Adrian is yet another person I’ve met through PauseTalk — yes, I tend to meet the most interesting people through my PauseTalk series, which is the main reason I started doing it all these years ago.

And he draws. A lot.

Adrian is a freelance illustrator based here in Tokyo, and as you’ll see from his online portfolio, he has a wonderful style that really is adaptable. But the most amazing thing is that Adrian is always drawing. And I mean always. He and Luis Mendo — the other obsessive drawer — are always sketching wherever they are, and following them on Instagram (Adrian/Luis) ensures constant updates on where they are and what they are seeing, by way of pen.

I’m quite happy that the both of them — along with AQ's Eiko Nagase — run PauseDraw, a PauseTalk spinoff series where instead of talking you, ahem, draw. They’ve been doing it for well over a year now, and it’s really great to see how the event has grown. The regular sessions take place at AQ’s conference room in Nishi-Azabu, but they also have special editions in which they collaborate with Loftwork, that attract quite the crowd.

If you’re interested in taking part, you’ll always find new events listed on the series’ Facebook page (and you can follow them on Twitter). And it’s important to note that you don’t have to have any drawing ability to take part, it’s all about having fun with a pen or pencil and a piece of paper.

Thank you Adrian, Luis, and Eiko, for what you’ve accomplished with PauseDraw. It’s a joy for me to see something like this happen.

Strike a Pose, There’s Nothing to It

Strike a pose.

Last week — on Saturday, which was the day “Fashion’s Night Out” was held — as we were walking down Omotesando, we were stopped by a group who were taking street shots for Vogue Japan, to be used on the magazine’s website, and possibly other sites.

They of course wanted to shoot my wife and pooch.

Above, you can see the photographer taking a few different shots, and one shot did in fact make it to the Vogue Japan site — I’m not linking to it because my wife is shy, and didn’t want me to share it.

In a funny coincidence, I had met the photographer a couple of years ago, because he had attended one of my PauseTalk events. 

Pooch is now Vogue-worthy.

The Blogger Who Wasn’t There

When is a blogger not a blogger?

I used to blog, a lot. In fact, I turned into a writer because of all that blogging — I had started writing a series of posts about how I got to writing professionally, but those are now unfortunately all gone.

But yeah, blogging, used to do lots, barely do any now — the last post I wrote was at the end of June, and that’s been pretty much par for the course for the last year or so. Sure, the fact that my previous host royally screwed me over and pulled the plug without proper warning had an effect. It took me a while to get over that, and even though I don’t really think about it anymore, I’m sure it has affected how I treat this blog.

The blog that wasn’t there.

It’s different contributing to a blog that has 10+ years of history — a lot of it about the art and culture scene in Tokyo — and contributing to one that just has a few posts on it, none dating back before 2014.

The end of history.

But that’s of course not the only reason I don’t write as much as I used to. I do have a day job that keeps me busy, and so new posts have ground to tiny trickle over the past couple of years or so. This often had me feeling like I should add something to make sure and keep the site alive, since it was so important to me for such a long time — and hey, sometimes I did actually have something I wanted to share. And I do still write quite regularly on my media consumption diary, as I like to keep track of things I’m watching and playing.

So what am I trying to say here? 

I don’t want to lose that habit of writing (for myself) that I developed over all these years, and so I want to try and get back to it.

Eighty

Lordy, lordy, look who’s… 80.

The next edition of PauseTalk is just over a week away (happening on Monday, July 7), and not only is it the Vol. 80, but it also marks the 8th anniversary of the series.

(Well, last month would have been the true anniversary, since I started it in June, but you know, close enough.)

You never think that something will have a long life until you get there, to that point where, well, it’s fucking old. 80 events over a span of 8 years is a lot, and although there have of course been some sessions that were better than others, the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that I’ve been doing this consistently for such a long period of time. Also, I’ve met a ton of interesting people during that time, making connections that certainly would have never happened if it weren’t for PauseTalk.

So thank you, PauseTalk, for being in my life all this time.

As I mentioned, PauseTalk Vol. 80 will be held on Monday, July 7, and that’s of course going to take place at Cafe Pause in Ikebukuro. Since there will be no event in August (due to the holidays), this will be the last edition of the summer. The photo included in this post was taken by Jared Braiterman at last month’s Vol. 79.

He’s Got the Oil on His chain, for a Ride in the Rain

It’s rainy season. It’s wet.

And I’ve been doing a piss poor job of doing any kind of writing here. That’s not to say I don’t do any writing — I sure tweet like a motherfucker, and still keep up with my media consumption diary of games I’m playing, and TV/movies I’m watching — but for some reason I haven’t felt any big desire to write posts on this blog.

The blogger is unblogged.

Yes, I did get deflated when the big implosion of all my sites happened a couple of months ago — and even though it looked like I was going to get the data back, that never ended up happening. But it’s something I’ve come to terms with. 

Out with the old, in with the new.

I turned 41 last week, so I guess that really should be “in with the old.” My gift to myself was buying Mario Kart 8 on the day of release (the day before my birthday), which I accompanied with Wind Waker HD, and I then proceeded to spend my entire birthday weekend playing those games.

Add to that a viewing of the LEGO Movie, and I’m not really sure if I turned 41 or 11.

I sure love Wind Waker HD, and I’m pretty sure I can say it’s my favorite gaming experience this year. It’s the 3rd time I play this game, and because of the fantastic HD update, as well as the incredible usefulness of having access to your items and maps on the Wii U controller, it feels so fresh and new. And oh-so beautiful. As I play, I’m just constantly reminded of how much I enjoy Zelda games, and how much I really hope that Nintendo has the guts to create a direct sequel to Wind Waker, in the same style. 

What else is happening? I just had a really great PauseTalk last week — here’s who came — and I’m already looking forward to the next one, Vol. 80, which will be the last one this summer. PressPause keeps on going, although there have been some scheduling hiccups of late — and some health issues on my end that made me miss some — but that’s all part of how these things go. I didn’t think I could do some more episodes of my Codex podcast since I don’t have any hosting anymore — and I’m not in a hurry to get some, since I’m happy to have converted all of my sites to Tumblr — but I think I found a good solution the other day, and it’ll even mean that I’ll record and stream them live. More on that soon, I hope.

Oh, and I was very happy to have been invited again to do the 8-4 PLAY podcast recently, for a third time, which was the E3 prediction episode. I had a lot of fun as always, but I’m realizing that I should probably drink a bit less, because listening to it, it feels like about 75% of my contribution is me laughing at what everyone is saying.

Put the beer down, Jean. Put it down.

E3 starts tomorrow, and I’m pretty excited to see what will come out of it, watching the keynote streams, new trailers, and of course people tweeting what they’re taking in and doing.

Now let’s check the weather widget to see how much rain we’ll be getting tomorrow.

Spoiler: lots.

PressPause Update

PressPause is go.

If you’re curious to find out how last week’s first session went, I wrote a short rundown over at the PressPause site. As you’ll see, our first meeting was about getting to know each other, and coming up with the game ideas that we’ll be working on in teams over the course of “Season 1,” which we expects to last 10 sessions or so. 

I came up with the “Roguelike Combini” idea, and am pretty excited that it’ll be the project I’ll be working on, along with my awesome team.

Also, I’ve created a sister site, PressPause Codex, where the group will be able to share links that relate to Unity, as well as things that were discussed at the sessions (which is why you currently see links to a Wikipedia entry about roguelikes and the trailer for Goat Simulator). It’s just an easy way to keep track of useful references as we experience all of this together.

If you’re just finding out about this now and are interested in taking part, I’m afraid it’s probably too late now to join in — but don’t worry, I fully expect us to do a “Season 2.”

What Up With That?

Let’s get to some updates.

Since all of my sites died this past weekend — see previous post — I’d like to post something here that offers up a few updates on everything. I do hope to have versions of some of these sites up again in the near future, but it’s going to take time — and I’m still not sure if I’m going to stick to Tumblr, or go back to hosting.

First up is The Magaziner, a site I launched around 5 years ago, that gave me outlet for my magazine obsessions. The site hasn’t been particularly active over the past year or so — mostly just sticking to “new releases” posts and the odd news item — and in fact a week ago I had posted a message saying that I was putting the site “back on the shelf” for now, meaning on an indefinite hiatus, until I could figure out what to with it.

I guess this whole situation really did put a final nail in that coffin.

For PauseTalk, I was already planning on skipping April, because I’m going to be out-of-town when the edition should have been held (first Monday of the month). Since the first Monday of May falls during Golden Week, I think I’ll do Vol. 78 during the last week of April, but will update you all in a week or two. The next site I want to get online — at least in a limited manner — is the PauseTalk one, since I do think that all of those participants lists are useful for many. You can also always get updates through Facebook and Twitter.

My Codex podcast was yet again on a bit of a break (the last episode was released in December), and I’m really not sure what to do with that. I do still want to do them, but since the feed for it was something I did manually and that I hosted, if I do decide to stick with Tumblr for my sites, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to continue to share it through iTunes (which I think is important for a podcast).

Thankfully, PressPause was unaffected by any of this, since I created the main site on Tumblr, and I use Google Groups for the newsletter that keeps all members informed, as well as for the forum where we will share info about the sessions and have discussions. Our first session is happening tomorrow (Thursday, April 3), and I’m incredibly excited about it.

So there you go, that’s where things are at. I have received some good news as it seems that I am going to recover all of the data for all of my sites — thanks to the amazing person behind Kaizen Garden, who I can’t say enough good things about.

Oh, and on Friday I’m heading to Okinawa for the first time ever, on Iriomote Island to be more precise. The plan is for a weekend of trekking, sea exploration, and kayaking. Can’t wait.

Jean Snow [.net] Is Dead

JeanSnow.net just died on me.

To my absolute shock, the hosting company I’ve been using for 10 years, TextDrive, suddenly shut down — they apparently made it public at the start of March that they were closing down on March 14, but they never sent out any notices. It’s looking like I will not be able to get the data back (there is a slight chance, but I’m not counting on it), and the last full local backup I did was in August of 2011. This affects my personal blog, which I’ve been doing for about 13-14 years — it’s that blog that led to me starting a writing career, before I got involved with PechaKucha — as well as my other sites (PauseTalk, The Magaziner, and Codex). 

All gone.

Is it my fault for not doing regular backups of all this stuff? Partly. But this situation angers me to no end — how they could do this without sending any notice so I could go in and make sure I downloaded all my data is beyond me (and yes, I have checked my spam folder extensively). 

Unfuckingbelievable.

Checking the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, luckily it did do a grab of my main site on March 18, and so I’ll at least be able to recover all of the posts I had written — PauseTalk was grabbed on March 5, and The Magaziner in January, so I’ve lost a few posts for that site.

I’ve quickly put up this Tumblr site, as I start to recover from all this madness, and hopefully I’ll manage to migrate all of my content here — as much as they say not to trust big companies (like Tumblr, or Yahoo for that matter) at least you can expect to get an early — and very public — warning before anything gets shutdown, with time to export everything. 

But yeah, this really fucking sucks. It’s not what I wanted to deal with on a relaxing Sunday afternoon-turning-into-evening. For a while, before I found those 2011 backups, I thought I had suddenly lost my entire blogging history.

It felt like I had lost a limb.