My Site is Back

At somewhat long last my site is back. I had some issues with my previous provider and dropped them so my site went down. Luckily I had some backups to pull most of my site back online and this time it is back in fully beautiful HTTPS. I have also moved it to a private virtual server I control that is hosted in Canada. Not only do I have full control over my site and server the site is entirely Canada-based.

I have never really been very impressed with most shared hosting services but the price was generally right so I used them. Luckily, being tech savvy and living in a day and age of cloud server hosting at reasonable prices I found a solution that worked for me.

In line with my usual style I spun up a server, configured WordPress and secured it with HTTPS all from a console app on my iPhone. I think I will post a full tutorial for the process I used to get my site up for anyone who is interested. Look for it coming soon!

Anyway, back to tea time and then back to work on a rainy Friday.


Sanzenin Forest Wallpaper

This is the wallpaper that I am currently using. I took it on a trip to Kyoto where I had another chance to drop by Sanzenin. I love the forests there as well as the more cultivated gardens. I hope that you find it as relaxing as I do!

If you click on an image it will open at full size. After the image loads, right-click and download the wallpaper. As it is quite large (5120×3200 pixels) it might take a few seconds to load on slower connections.

Kyoto Wallpaper 2014

Using some of the photos that I took on my Kyoto trip this year (2014) I have put together some high-resolution wallpaper for people to use if they like. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do!

Top of a Wall in Gion

Kimonos in Motion

Bamboo Wall in Gion

Looking Through Sanzenin

Figure in Sanzenin

Gion at Night


If you click on an image it will open at full size. After the image loads, right-click and download the wallpaper. As they are quite large (5120×2880 pixels) they might take a few seconds to load on slower connections.

My Custom Coffee Tumbler – Runaway Robot

Runaway Robot Cup Liner

It was about time to put together a new custom coffee tumbler liner for my cup and as I have been using my runaway robot character a fair bit lately, why not make a cup liner? I tend to do purely seasonal liners but it is not really spring or summer at the moment so maybe it is time for a season-neutral theme 😉

What do you think?

I have cup liners available for tall and grande sized Starbucks customizable cups (and likely those sold by other companies too). The PDFs are A4 and not letter, but for those of you that use letter sized paper they should print without issue. You can download them below:

Grande (Tabbed) | Grande | Tall

Runaway Robot T-Shirt

Robot T-shirt Blog

I sometimes like to randomly sketch things and recently I started sketching a robot. I rather likely it, but could think of no real use for it at the time. Then the weather started getting warmer and I started to think about t-shirts. I did pick up some on sale at Uniqlo, but I really like having uncommon t-shirts when possible so I went ahead and did a runaway robot t-shirt design. I was considering making the custom shirt myself, but I do not have the space to set up a decent silk-screening rig and it would be kind of excessive for one or two shirts anyway. There are also heat transfer ink-jet appliqués but they tend not to be durable enough and as none of the decent ones I have used in the past are available here in Japan I wasn’t super-enthusiatic about it. I went online looking for a custom printing service that would both print for a decent price and ship to Japan. That is actually a relatively difficult combination. I even tried Uniqlo’s custom shirt site but their online tools sucked and it was not possible to get the logo at the right size and location using their tool (regardless of image resolution). Eventually I settled on one of the mainstream customization services. I found some discounts for them online so I got a shirt for a decent price. I just have to wait and see how my t-shirt actually looks!


Fall Wallpaper 2013

Fall Grass Red PandaThis fall I did not get any good photos of changing leaves in 2013 as the weather was not really right for it so I have been using these two photos I took as my wallpaper this fall. The panda photo is actually over a year old, but it is just so nice!

If you click on an image it will open at full size. After the image loads, right-click and download the wallpaper. As they are quite large (3200×2000 pixels) they might take a few seconds to load on slower connections.

My Solar Power Setup

I have always been interested in alternative power, and my interests have particularly focussed on solar power. Over the last few years I have managed to get my solar power setup working pretty efficiently and have managed to move a lot of my small power requirements off the grid. I would love to move everything off the grid, but that is just not realistic in a normal rental apartment in Tokyo.

My Solar SystemWith my current setup I find that I can charge most of my small devices using solar energy. I am currently charging my iPhone, GoPro 2, Eneloop batteries (used in various things), Knog Blinder Road 3 and Blinder Rear lights, Garmin 800, and my DSLR batteries. I do occasionally charge my iPad as well but it really draws too much power to be able to charge it entirely off solar while charging my phone everyday.

So, as you can see, I am by no means off the grid but a lot of my convenience devices, all of my electronic bike gear and my cameras are charged with solar. As for emergency use, assuming a moderate number of sunny days I would be able to keep enough lights, a radio, iPhones and other little bits running pretty much indefinitely. Along side a gas stove, a good supply of water, sufficient food and emergency toilet supplies I would be reasonably comfortable in the short term as long as I could stay at or near my apartment.

What is my setup? Well, I am running 3 portable solar panels (2 Goal Zero Nomad 7s and a Nomad 13) in series for a theoretical total of 27 watts. I really expect no where near that output in anything but ideal conditions. I have a Goal Zero Yeti 150 solar generator, which has slightly upwards of 150Wh of power storage and a supplementary 10.4Ah Li-ion battery pack with 2 USB outputs. All together it has cost me about $450 over the last few years for the hardware. I find that using the sun to trickle charge the Yeti 150 and then using it to charge the Li-ion battery pack works pretty well. That way I can top off my Yeti 150 regularly with good run of sunny days while using the Li-ion battery pack for my daily iPhone and small device charging needs. I very rarely lose any solar power that my panels are pulling in through this setup. The only time I would lose any potential power is if I were to go on a vacation of some kind and be away from home for 5 days or so. Even then I would come home to nice full batteries!

As for the charging time for the system, it seems to take anywhere between 12-30 hours to charge the Yeti 150. I am generally using the panels behind glass in my room which really cuts down on efficiency. Luckily, the windows in typical apartments here in Japan are thin, single-pane and do not appear to have any UV or other coatings. My apartment bedroom window is facing 165°S so the panels can get direct sun exposure from sunrise until around 11am or so. I do find that even on cloudy days my panels pull some charge but really not enough to do much more than charge 2 AA batteries in a morning.

I do hope to have a proper solar system in place one day, but for now I will just make the best of what I’ve got 😉

My Custom Coffee Tumbler – Summer 2013 Alternate

Shima and Ms Heart Kindan No Ai Grande
This custom coffee tumbler liner is not an entirely new design but is actually a refurbished version of a liner I made quite a number of years ago. I had originally designed it on Corel Draw but as I have been using Illustrator for the last few years I ported it over. In transferring it I lost the original text and some of the graphic details, but I think I have nicely recreated the missing bits from memory. As it is summer themed I thought that I would publish it now for those cat lovers out there as my cup liners so far have been a bit dog-centric. I hope you like it!

You can download the printable PDF for grande cups here.

My Custom Coffee Tumbler – Summer 2013


Shiro Natsuyasumi 2013 GrandeAs it is already well into summer I thought that it was time to make my new custom coffee tumbler insert. I originally had an idea for a summer coffee tumbler during the rainy season but it was a bit rain-specific, so I decided to go with a new purely summer theme now that it is hot and sunny pretty much everyday. As it has been over 35°C and sunny most days lately the beach was an appealing and appropriate setting for the new cup. I doubt that I will make it to a nice beach this year, but even if I don’t I can live vicariously through my coffee tumbler 😉

As usual I have prepared a download here for anyone who would like to print it out and try it in their own grande cup. Cheers!