Ryan Kanno: The diary of an Enginerd in Hawaii

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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Got Toes? The Vibram FiveFingers Review

Let me first preface this blog by stating that no, I’m not dead. I’ve been a little really busy with work. Don’t worry, I have a bunch of new blogs planned around all the useless pieces of software that I’m working on. Until then, check out some of my latest buys.

I finally succumbed to peer pressure.

Vibram FiveFingers
After some careful online research (like here, here, and here) and being persuaded by my co-worker Stephane, I finally mozied on down to get myself a pair of Vibram FiveFingers. After all, being named one of Time Magazine’s Inventions of the Year couldn’t be all that bad… right? :)

After perusing their website, I found only two retailers on Oahu that sold them.

  • Uyeda Shoe Store across from Puck’s Alley (map)
  • The Wheatgrass Center behind the Bank of Hawaii on Waialae (map)

After calling Uyeda’s several times and being greeted with one of those funky fax feedback tones each time (note – please update your online phone number), I finally decided to ring up The Wheatgrass Center. For those of you instructionally-impaired like myself, just take a left on Waialae Ave. before the Bank of Hawaii heading Kahala bound. Located behind the bank, The Wheatgrass Center is quite an interesting store selling both the Vibram FiveFingers and of course… wheatgrass. (Why people want to ruminate like cows is still truly beyond me.)

Review

When I first saw the Vibram FiveFinger, I did what any other (semi) normal human being would do – I laughed. Not any normal laugh, mind you – but a “there’s no f-in way I’m wearing that in public” laugh. They resemble footwear of a ninja-in-training, and since I’m neither of the two (a ninja or in training), I really couldn’t fathom seeing myself in a pair.

But after trying them on, I was immediately taken back; back to small kid time when I ran barefoot and carefree in the red dirt hills of Mililani. The Vibram FiveFingers not only allows you to feel the contour of the ground, but also provides protection to the soles of your feet. After being given the sales pitch by Mr. Fukuda, I was sold. There’s a few models; I ended up purchasing the Classic. (Check out their website to see the entire product line). Not to mention, Mr. Fukuda instructed ordered me to wear the pair out the door. After a full weekend’s worth of wear and tear, here’s a few images of them on my feet – along with a short list of my pros and cons.

Vibram flat on the kitchen floorVibram side profileVibram angleVibram overhead view

The Pros

  • It’s surprisingly comfortable. Sometimes my toes still feel weird being separated, but it’s pretty neat to actually feel the ground without fear of having a rock in your foot. Btw, if you like the separated toe thing, check these socks out from Injini.
  • If everything the Internet world says is true (like we all know it is!), I’ll have crazy leg/toe muscles, damnit! And, not to mention, it promotes a more natural walking motion. To learn more, read this article about barefoot running.

The Cons

  • I developed a blister on the back of my foot near my Achilles from the back strap. It’s pretty sore, but after reading other reviews, I’m sure I’ll get used to it.
  • Since I’m fairly self-deprecating and a non-fashionista (you should see my car), the design doesn’t faze me one bit – but I could see how embarrassment could set in.
  • The price. $73 bucks isn’t a drop in the bucket in this economy. Damn, do you know how many beers I’m giving up for this?

I’ll tell you in December how the Honolulu Marathon goes with these on!

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OSCON: Day 3, 4, and 5!

I’m sorry.

I know I’m late with my updates, but I’m currently enrolled in the final project based MBA class at the University of Hawaii and it’s been kicking my @$$. In any case, enough excuses… here’s the quick rundown of the presentations I attended on Day 3, 4, and 5 at OSCON. Btw, all the presentation files can be found online! (Don’t you love open source). Not to mention, I’ve tried to scour the web for reviews notes for each session and linked them appropriately.

Day 3

Session 1: Subversion: Powerful New Toys with Director for The Apache Software Foundation, Justin Erenkrantz

Since we’ve implemented Subversion at work, I wanted to be forward thinking and check out all the new features and the direction of the project. It’s nice to know they’re looking at Mercurial’s revlog.

Session 2: Who Gets to Decide What Open Source Means? with a really powerful panel of people. :)

With a panel of supastahs, I wanted to hear the debate about all the confusion surrounding the word “free” software and what exactly constitutes open source. Pretty interesting to see what all the fuss is about especially once the software crosses over into the Enterprise.

Session 3: PHP: Bigger and Faster with Rasmus Lerdorf, creator of PHP.

It’s funny; I ate lunch with Rasmus and I didn’t even know it. Really interesting talk about PHP. I’m not a hugeeee PHP fan but still interesting nonetheless. First introduction to YSlow for Firebug.

Session 4: Using Trac Efficiently: Work Smarter, Not Harder with Vivek Khera

Since I just installed a VMWare image of a Trac install on Windows, I wanted to see what the community buzz was all about. The talk was really, really crowded; not to mention I heard numerous speakers over the course of the conference pimp out Trac. People mentioned having trouble installing Trac on Windows, but I followed the wiki instructions and it was fine – not sure what all the fuss is about. I’ll have to get back to the office and figure out how to setup the authentication and hooks into our repository so we can actually use the installation I configured at work.

Session 5: High Performance Web Pages with Chief Performance Yahoo!, Steve Souders

Steve introduced an internal Yahoo! tool, YSlow, that hooked into the lovely Firebug to grade the performance of a website. After having played with it for a few days, I’m loving it. Nothing like instant gratification in the form of a score. And if you develop ANYTHING on the web and you’re not using Firebug, it’s best advised that you do. :)

Day 4

Session 1: Why Observability Matters – How DTrace Helped Twitter with Adam Leventhal and Brandon Gregg.

After reading about all the scaling troubles of Twitter, I really wanted to see what tools helped determine the root cause of the problem. Sun’s DTrace is a fascinating real time, trace tool that can help debug and trace pretty much any issue that you’d encounter. Though I can’t use it at work, I still love to see the low level tools that are being developed. If you’re lost, don’t worry I was too, read more about DTrace at Wikipedia.

Session 2: Using and Writing Rails Plugins with Eric Pugh

Since I’ve slowly been delving in the Rails world, I wanted to see what the plugin system was all about. The session was pretty informative, even recommending sites that give statistics on the most frequently used plugins. (Don’t worry, I still love my Django).

Session 3: Python 3000 with Guido van Rossum

Hearing the God of Python speak about its future is pretty fascinating. I find it interesting that Py3K will break compatibility with Python 2.X. If you don’t know what that means, basically – you have to upgrade all your Python scripts to 2.6, then a source-code conversion tool will be used to convert your source files in Python 2.6 to Py3K. Scary but rest assured that these guys are super smart. To read more about Py3K, you can check out the PEP for it.

Session 4: Advanced Spring Framework with CEO of Interface21, Rod Johnson

I’ve heard Rod speak a number of times at JavaOne and since I’ve converted all my projects to use Spring in some fashion or another, I always like to see what’s going on in the community. Btw, if you’re not using a dependency injection framework, you really, really, really need to look into them. :)

Day 5

Session 1: Subversion Worst Practices with Google employees, Brian Fitzpatrickand Ben Collins-Sussman.

Since Harper and Scoot are friends of Brian’s in Chitown and we use Subversion at work, I wanted to see what the core development team thought about the worst practices. This was by far the funniest of all the sessions I attended, and it was SRO only. To read about notes from last year’s session named “Subversion Best Practices”, check them out here. Or… even better, check out Fitz’s blog about this year’s presentation.

Whew. All in all, a very awesome conference. Hopefully, I can convince management that this is the future. // KANNO

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Movie Review: The Namesake

The Namesake

The NamesakeSo two weekends ago, Shaks, Suds, Michelle, Karlyn, Shane and I went to Varsity Theatre on University Ave. to watch The Namesake starring Kal Penn. (Yes, yes… the same Kal Penn of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and Van Wilder fame).

Based on a book by Jhumpa Lahiri bearing the same name, the movie chronicles the immigration of a first-generation Bengali family, the Gangulis, and their struggles here in America. I must admit, I initially had a difficult time imagining Kal Penn in a family drama – but once I got over that conundrum, I found his portrayal of a culturally conflicted teen and young adult – one torn with internal strife between his Indian and American heritage – extremely raw, emotional, and realistic.

I was very impressed. So with that said, I give this film a Kanno two thumbs up seal of approval!

And if you ever do get a chance to see the movie, don’t forget to check out these links:

» 21 things you didn’t know about The Namesake
» Kal Penn’s blog about The Namesake

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Femme Capulet: Romeo and Juliet Remixed

The Capulets courtesy of John Berger @ Honolulu Star Bulletin

Last Friday, Kar, Michelle, Lyell, Shane, Melissa, Melissa’s friend, and I checked out a local play @ the ARTS at Mark’s Garage in downtown Honolulu. Since this play was directed and produced by one of the MBA’s very own, Tony Pisculli, we wanted to show our support as well as you know… “become cultured“.

“Femme Capulet: Romeo and Juliet Remixed” is a modern day remake of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. Staged in a strip club, the play stays true to its mold as it tells a tale of love between a patron of the club, Romeo, and Juliet, a young, naive waitress. From the voice on the mic – to the music selection – and the actresses (dressed in skimpy lingerie) actually giving simulated lap dances, the ambiance was great – I actually felt as though I was in the strip club; of course, not that I would know since I haven’t been to *that* many. ;)

As for the acting, I felt that Mercutio and Juliet’s mother really stood out amongst the cast. I also enjoyed Friar Lawrence – and loved the fight scene where Tybalt and Mercutio die. However, one thing that did bother me about the play was that being it was quote unquote “remixed”, it took me a while to discern who was who amongst the cast. Part of it was my fault since I had lost my program, part of it can be attributed to the scene selection and time constraints of the play, but I also felt that there are other things that could be done to allude to who’s who.

All in all, I really enjoyed watching the play and recommend everyone to see it – the topic was a little risque for me to invite my parents this go-around, so I’d say that it would appeal to everyone ranging from 18 – 40. A fascinating look at a modern day Romeo and Juliet, I give it two thumbs up and a Kanno seal of approval.

Great job Tony!

Check out what others have been saying about the play:

» John Berger @ Honolulu Star Bulletin in 2005
» John Berger @ Honolulu Star Bulletin in 2007
» Joseph T. Rozmiarek @ Honolulu Advertiser

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Living Pidgin by Lee Tonouchi

Living Pidgin CastLast night, my parents, Michelle, Kar, her sister and I checked out a local play @ the Kumu Kahua Theatre in downtown. Being an enginerd, I like to get out from the basement where “they” hide me and keep tabs on what the local art community is producing.

“Living Pidgin” by Lee Tonouchi is an eclectic array of Tonouchi’s essays, short stories, and poetry – delivered via hilarious short-skits (and I stress hilarious) all centered around the Pidgin language. The play was a little longer than expected – ~2.5 hours in length, but I swear I laughed the entire time. Since I know how locals think, this play is definitely worth every last penny of the $16 admission price (or $12 if you get a Credit Back card). For those of you with children – be warned, some vulgar language makes an appearance or two throughout the play.

I definitely recommend every local (and non-local for that matter) to see it – as it appealed to everyone ranging from 18 to 60+. Most definitely the hardest laugh I’ve had in months. So with that said, this play definitely gets the Kanno seal of approval.

Two thumbs up and a super boocuzlidat good time!

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