Current Events

Pokémon Breeding and the Masuda Method

The depths of Pokémon gamer knowledge are beyond my reach. My kids, on the other hand, have gone deep and are using the internet to expand their learning further. I helped connect their Nintendo DS to Wifi so they can explore virtual worlds. Now they are connecting with other players around the world to trade characters. We have conversations around their gaming world but I am totally lost at sea.

Today, my son pointed me to which is, as far as I can tell, the wikipedia for the Pokémon fan. Here’s an entry for Shiny Pokémon and how one might obtain one.

You have probably heard or seen a picture of them. Pokémon that are different colors than normally seen with. An example of that could be a Metagross with a silver coating and a golden X on it, a dark green Zubat, or a black Rayquaza. The Torchic you may have obtained from Professor Birch may be a lighter colored orange and you may think the game is glitched up, but it isn’t. As you can imagine, these occurences are very, very rare. Not very many people even have a shiny Pokémon to begin with. So how do you get them?

It depends on very, very good luck to get a shiny Pokémon. You can find shiny Pokémon in the wild, in eggs, and in the battle tower, which is basically everyplace you can catch a Pokémon save for the Battle Tower in which you won’t be able to catch the shinys there. Needless to say, you wont be very lucky if a shiny ends up there. People have said that you can also meet a shiny when in your first battle against the wild Poochyena and Wally’s Ralts as well. Basically, like I said, it revolves around how lucky you are. Now the bad thing is that the odds of finding a shiny Pokémon in the wild are 1 in 8,192 battles…all the time, meaning after 8,191 battles it’ll still be 1 in 8,192 and not a dead cert that you will get one i.e. not 1 in 1 battles. If you already have a shiny Pokémon and think you’ll have a higher chance of getting another shiny if you breed with it, think again. It’s still going to have the same odds.

Now you’d think with a Pokémon this rare, it has to have good Individual Values and such. That’s no longer the case. Shiny Pokémon are always going to end up with the same odds of good stats as normal Pokémon. They used to have set IV’s in the Metal generation, but not in this one.

In the fourth generation, a variety of things have changed in order to allow for the obtaining of Shiny Pokémon. First is a method commonly known as the Masuda Method, named after the game developer and the person who revealed it; Junichi Masuda. This method has you breed two Pokémon. However, one of the Pokémon must be of a different nationality than your game (such as a Japanese Pokémon on an English game). This will lower the chances of hatching a shiny Pokémon from 1 in 8,192 to 1 in 2,048 cutting it by 75%.

The second method of obtaining shiny Pokémon is through the method called “chaining”. This method has you carry on a chain on the PokéRadar. As you battle the Pokémon and your chain increases, the chances of seeing a Shiny Pokémon also increases up until you’re on the 40th chain where it levels out. Continue the chain and you may see the grass glow instead of shaking. If this occurs, there is a shiny Pokémon there. To get this far, I suggest you use many Repels so your chains are less likely to be broken.

And that’s everything on Shiny Pokémon.

Got that? Good, ’cause you never know the next time an 11 year-old is going to quiz you.

Miss Universe National Costumes

Miss Kazakhstan is always easy to find at a crowded party.

I had no idea that there was a National Costume portion of the Miss Universe pageant. I need to tune in next time. Excellent collection of snarky one-liners over at Tom & Lorenzo’s blog. Part One & Part Two.

Current Events

Getting Down Finnish Style

Hope you all had a chance to tune into Radio Helsinki at 4:30 pm and boogie down. For some virtual fun, click play on all three links below at the same time.

It’s all part of Happy Helsinki and the Helsinki Festival.

EdgeRank, the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm

Michael Berstein, a researcher at MIT, posts a snapshot of the algorithm used to calculate what is shown to you in the Facebook Top News feed.

The algo is called EdgeRank and he describes it as such:

I’ll cut through the math using words. Whenever somebody interacts with a news feed item, they create an edge to that item. So if I comment on a friend’s new puppy photos, I’ve created an edge to your photos. When trying whether  to show the photos in your news feed, Facebook looks at how closely you interact with everyone who has an edge to the item. So, with the puppy photos, it considers your affinity to the friend who created the photos, and then me because I commented on them.

This all comes down to — initialization matters. If my high school friends are the first to comment on a news feed item, the EdgeRank of that item for other high school friends is high. So, other high school friends will see the item. If grad school friends are the first to comment, then other grad school friends are likewise going to see it.

I had no idea that the elapsed time between a posting and when you interact with the object had something to do with future relevance calculations but now that I think of it, it makes sense. The same has happened to my twitter usage – since I’ve shifted timezones, I mostly see tweets and posts from friends in the European timezone so, in a self-fulfilling way, any service looking to see which content I engage with the most will most likely determine that it’s things coming from my European friends.

More details about Faebook’s EdgeRank algorithm and a link to the full video which was presented at f8 over on TechCrunch.

Fun with Foursquare

The visualization below was built in 48 hours using the FourSquare API.

Ian Kennedy’s Foursquare by

A video of the global view, posted it on Vimeo, and posted it below.

Back to Blogging?

Paul CarrThnks Fr Th Mmrs: The Rise Of Microblogging, The Death Of Posterity

by constantly micro-broadcasting everything, we’ve ended up macro-remembering almost nothing.

Leo LaporteBuzz Kill

I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing.

Seth GodinMoving On

It took a year or so, but I finally figured out that my customer wasn’t the reader or the book buyer, it was the publisher. If the editor didn’t buy my book, it didn’t get published.

Paul Carr has pulled back on all social media outlets except his twitter feed. He writes for a living and wants to maximize the value of his writing and own a more complete, thoughtful record of his life.  Leo Laporte realized as that despite early indications that social media amplifiers such as Twitter or Google Buzz are great for building awareness, it’s not so great when everybody is too busy shouting their own message to listen to yours. And Seth Godin is giving up on traditional book publishing and will now use his blog to directly communicate his ideas.

People are re-examining the blog as a place to record your thoughts and communicate directly with an audience. In the case of Paul and Leo, the failed filter is a transient third party social network feed and the associated black box algorithm of Re-Tweets, Likes, or Favorites. In Seth’s case, failed filter is the “fundamentally broken”  architecture of the publishing industry.

Are we seeing a trend back towards the digital “long form” blog post as the happy medium (pun intended)?

Current Events

What to do in Tokyo?

A friend visiting Tokyo asked for recommendations. I often get this kind of question (I lived there for 10 years and am half-Japanese)  so for future reference, to point people in the future (and a place to park any follow up suggestions in the comments) I’ll put my recommendations here in this post. Here’s the (slightly edited) request:

I’d love some advice on what you’d do if you had Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. ( I’m ignoring that we’ll be tired!) I’d love to head out of Tokyo by train (maybe take bullet train someplace, I have not been on it). Some art and shopping but mostly seeing/experiencing things.

Here’s my response.  Feel free to add your own tidbits or call bullshit in the comments:

Basically for the short time you’re there, forget the Bullet train. Odawara is the first stop on the Bullet and while it has a castle, you don’t want to spend a day just to see that. Kyoto is worth a trip but it’s a three hour trip each way and you don’t want to be rushed to see the city – it requires a relaxed, peaceful pace.

So basically you’re in town from Saturday night, checking out Wednesday. Here’s the plan:


If you want something Japanese, try Meguro Gajoen, it’s on the right side of the city to the modern sights you want to see but will still give you a feel for a grand old Japanese hotel. They say that one of the rooms was the inspiration for a scene in the animated film, Spirited Away.  Ask to be put in a room where you can sleep on tatami. Trip Advisor has some write-ups with links to things to do in the neighborhood (Parisitological Museum? Maybe. Japan Folk Crafts Museum? Defintely!) and here’s a longer review from 2006.


It’ll take you at least a couple of hours to get from the airport to the city so I’ll leave the day open.

For your first night out, ask the concierge for a decent Ramen place for noodles. If you want to make it into a quest, read this NY Times piece to get in the mood. Once you have Ramen in Japan, you’ll never eat it anything like it. An alternative, if you feel really hungry, there’s a fried pork cutlet place called Tonki that prepares their meals in an open kitchen which is operating room clean – be sure to get a seat at the counter, it’s quite a production.

Depending on how tired you are, you can head over to Aoyama for some Jazz at the Blue Note or Body & Soul or try out some of the nightclubs in the area. I used to hang out a Yellow but I see they closed. Roppongi’s a bit of a dive but the Pit Inn is a Jazz institution too but if you really want to blow your socks off, catch the show at Kingyo. It’s a weird, only-in-Japan cross between a gay cabaret and Kabuki that is truly unique (get the hotel to reserve this for you in advance).


Head on over to Harajuku (on the Yamonote line) to soak in the street scene. Don’t miss the Rock-a-billy dancers in Yoyogi park and then head on down Omotesando which is basically Tokyo’s equivalent of the Champs-Elysees. Be sure to wind your way back into the side streets to. There’s one that runs to the right, just after (it might be before) Tokyo Kiddyland, the toy store (which you must see). The street is built over a river so it winds it’s way in a gentle zig-zag promenade.

Continue down that street and you’ll make your way to Shibuya, the next station down the line. If you’ve been checking out the boutiques along the way, it’ll be a good couple of hours.

If you’re up for more – Nakano Broadway is an Otaku Collector Culture paradise. It’ll take you hours to see everything there so pace yourself. When I first arrived I was wondering why there were the occasional massage stations interspersed in amongst the stores but by the time I left, I understood why. Inside you can find everything from old JR conductor’s hats to that rare, in-box Transformer that you’ve been looking for to complete your collection.

Photo Gallery on Google Photos


OK, I guess you have time for one trip out of town a bit. Kamakura is just 90 mins to the Southwest so if you leave around 9am (missing the morning rush hour) you can make it down there in time to spend a good few hours there. Here’s a site which talks about all that you can see, I recall a hike from temple to temple was real beautiful but forgot how long that took. Try and get back on a train by 4pm or so to avoid the rush hour again and take the train back to Yurakucho so you can get off and walk the Ginza.

While there, try a fancy bar, Star Bar is one and I’ll add more links to this post as I remember them. I’ve never been but Sushi Saito I think is the only sushi place that won three Michelin stars, it’s also in the Ginza.

Since it’s early in the week, you might even be able to squeeze in and visit with my favorite nomiya, Enoki, which is tucked right next the tracks at Shibuya station. You usually need someone to introduce you but if you act nice and it’s not too crowded, you might be able to squeeze in. The conversation there is always lively.


During the day, visit my old neighborhood, Nezu. It’s on the Chiyoda subway line so best to ask directions from the hotel on how to navigate. It’s over on the East side of the city in a old neighborhood that didn’t get bombed out. You want to walk from Nezu station towards Ueno station but make your way via the side streets, the little back alleys are charming and you may even spot an old hand-pump well if you’re lucky.

One place in Nezu you must see is the Asakura sculpture museum. It’s in the home of a sculpture artist and I’m not such a huge fan of his sculptures but his house is really special and the staff are happy to let you hang out for hours on his veranda looking out on his carp pond.

Near Shinobazu Pond is the Shitamachi museum which will give you a feel for what it was like to live in Tokyo back before the war. It’s a small museum but kinda neat because you really get a sense of what it was like back then.

Make your way one stop North of Ueno on the Yamanote line to Okachimachi and you’re in basically the bargin bin of the city. If you’re looking for weird gifts, here’s a good place to check out stuff. If you’re into books, Jimbocho is a great place to browse old books and maybe pick up a woodblock print or two. The latest gadgets can be had at Akihabara but it’s a bit of an otaku freak zone now.  The Yodobashi camera next to the station has everything you need.

Or skip the hubub of shopping and head back over to the jet-set side of town and take the Chiyoda line back over to Omotesando to Radio Bar on Aoyama-dori. This is an institution.

There’s so much more to see – this is only the beginning but hopefully it’ll give you an idea of the city. Enjoy and check back for updates to this post!

Further Reading:


Cheesecake for Breakfast

I just got back from two weeks vacation in Paris with the Izumi and the kids. We opted to spend all our time in one place and rented an apartment so that we could soak in the rhythms of daily life in the city at our own pace. As an American from Silicon Valley, two weeks in one go seemed positively decadent but after experiencing a Finnish winter, I now understand why two, if not four weeks at a go is a Finnish right.

Parisians have created a wonderful alternate reality, a rose-colored bubble to keep out the noisy efficiency of the 21st century. The Paris we experienced mostly doesn’t know about sweatshirts or bulk food. It’s important to look good to keep up the illusion. It’s OK, if not preferred,  to wear bright red slacks and a shirt with white cuffs. People pull this off naturally, without looking the least bit pompous. When you visit a cafe, water comes to your table not rationed out in plastic cups but in functional stemware and a recycled wine carafe that says, “please rest easy, stay awhile.”

The bistros overflow not with tourists but locals, taking long, chatty lunches with co-workers or clients over home cooked meals that you need to slice with a knife and fork, all washed down with cool Rose and finished off with dessert and a demi-tasse of coffee. People eat to share the experience, not stuff something in the gut to stave off hunger. This is not the land of pizza slices or Subway food logs. Even the ice cream is artfully crafted into a bouquet to be marveled at before it is consumed.

Our apartment was in the Marias, a fashionable district on the right bank, (3ème Arrondissement if you must). Home to the Place des Vogues where Victor Hugo took and apartment and Henry II was mortally wounded with a lance to the eye while jousting to celebrate his daughter’s wedding. The surrounding area is fashionably hip and reminded us of Daikanyama or Aoyama in Tokyo. Packed on the main streets but more interesting on the fringes where you find the up and coming boutiques. We had a couple of guidebooks, Rick Steves’ Paris 2010 and the Eyewitness Travel Guide were good for a few walks but Izumi’s Japanese guidebooks were even better in pointing out interesting places off the beaten path (I would link to it but we left it behind in the apartment for others to use).

It was a stroke of genius to travel with Mimi, our small Terrier-Shizu mix. French people love dogs and Mimi was free to roam with us through the stores and was welcomed by her own bowl of water when we took her to lunch with us. The only regret is that dogs are not allowed in most parks and we had to leave her at the apartment when we chose to visit a museum. People say that it’s hard to get a waiter’s attention. All you need is a cute dog and you’ll immediately have half the staff fawning all over you, or at least your dog!

We settled into a daily rhythm of visiting one museum a day in order to pace ourselves. We would go either in the morning or late-afternoon to avoid the crowds, then spend the other half of the day out on long, exploratory walks with Mimi. Paris is such a great city to explore on foot so 2-3 hour hikes to investigate neighborhoods was the norm. We caught a break in the weather which was oddly cooler than the record-breaking heatwave in Helsinki. Average temperatures for the week was in the mid-20s (mid-70s Fahrenheit). In order to save a bit on costs (and also because the kitchen in the apartment wasn’t really set up to cook, we ended up making lunch our biggest meal of the day. Restaurants have great values during the lunch hours and you can fortify yourself with a two course Prix Fixe menu making anything more than cheese, pate, and baguettes for dinner unnecessary.

I was delighted to find the usual myths about the coldness of the French smashed during our trip. As mentioned before, having Mimi with us did a lot to charm people but also, because we walked the same streets each day, we began to recognize (and be recognized) by those we saw as we set out on our explorations. Strangers on trains were all polite and the instinctual civility of people who were quick to give up their seat to others or hold the door made things even more pleasant.

Our last evening, I mixed up the dates on my online reservation for the Eiffel Tower and expected there to be all sorts of trouble as my tickets were for the following day. The line for tickets that day was horrendously long so I prepared to have go at convincing the staff to give us a break and let us in a day earlier. Each step of the way as I steeled myself to argue our way forward, New York-style. I was met instead with a shrug and a, “fine with me, it’s really up to the next guy.” We went from ticket checker, to security guard, to ticket taker, to elevator operator before we finally realized that we made it all the way through to the second level.

Paris from the Eiffel Tower

We were driven to the airport the next morning by a cabbie I met the day before. He chatted colorfully all the way to the airport as we exchanged observations about the different places we had been. Sometimes he would start up a topic, other times it was me, lots of back and forth. He was originally from Algeria and observed that the Mediterranean cultures were definitely more chatty than those in the North.

Arriving back in Finland that evening, my few half-hearted attempts at conversation were as futile as trying to set fire to wet leaves. An icy stare on one word answers from our driver squelched any attempts at conversation. I felt like Kermit the Frog,  my curiosity kept at bay by his forearms, laced with menacing tattoos. The rest of the drive home was silent, punctuated only by the breathing of our driver through his nostrils. Vacation over. Back to Serious-land.