One of the reasons why I’ve been pretty bad at posting lately is that I’ve not had much time to sit and compose a long post (I’ve still got one in the backlog that I’m putting a fair bit of research into).

It takes me about an hour to go from an initial idea all the way to publishing it and walking away from a post.

So what I thought I’d do is share a few smaller posts in one mega post (if you will).

What I’ve been up to

So Windows 10 issues aside I’ve not been doing that much with my computers. I’ve been playing with Desktop Environments on my Ubuntu box, watching some Japanese TV, playing my bass and trying to get fit.

Desktop Environments

It’s not exactly the same, but you can thing of a Desktop Environment as the desktop interface for a computer: how the icons look, the fonts used, what the desktop looks like, all that stuff.

So I’ve been playing with Desktop Environments. Ubuntu comes with Unity which is nice, but it’s a little too reddish brown for me. Plus, I’m not a huge fan of how it connects to Amazon to get search results when you’re searching for an application or file using their launcher.

I’ve settled on XFCE because it’s small and fast.

Then I started looking for ways that I could alter the whole thing and make it more my own – one of the core ideas behind GNU Linux is the ability to swap things around: don’t like Nautlius (a file manager, similar to Explorer on Windows)? Then why not swap it out for thunar or pcmanfm?

I started playing with Conky and Numix and managed to get something that I really liked in about an hour. Here’s a screen shot of my current desktop environment:

My current desktop environment. XFCE with Numix and Conky.

My current desktop environment. XFCE with Numix and Conky.

My desktop wallpaper came from:

Japanese TV

I was often forgetting how far through Japanese shows I’d gotten, then I found a service called MyDramaList which seemed to fit perfectly. It’s basically like TraktTv but specifically for East Asian shows.

Anyway, so what have I been watching?

Seikei Bijin

Seikei Bijin means Artificial Beauty and that’s, pretty much, what this early 2000s show is about. At the beginning of the first episode Saotome Honami (the main character, who is played by Yonekura Ryoko) gets back to Japan after a trip to America for some extensive plastic surgery.

She spends most of the series getting back at men who are only interested in her because she’s attractive. This is all while working as a model for a photography agency, which makes it a little double faced I guess.

The first episode grabbed me with it’s combination of outright stupidity and stark realism, then it seemed to lose it’s way for a few episodes (basically repeating the same story twice over), but it picked up again.

The theme song aint half bad too:

Nobunaga Concerto

Nobunaga Concerto is one of them “character is flung back in time and meets a famous person who happens to look just like them, and they agree to switch places” types of shows.

The big draw here being that high school student Saburo (played by, then 32 year old, Oguri Shun) is flung back in time during a high school trip (he falls off a wall, after asking a girl out on a date). How far is he flung back in time? Around 500 years to just before the Sengoku Jidai. He promptly swaps places with Nobunaga Oda (who decides to go chill out at a Buddhist temple for a bit) and runs the clan for most of the 11 episodes of the show.

This one is quite silly in places, and poignant in others. The music is written by Taku Takahasi of M-Flo fame, too.


Shinzanmono means “new comer” and is the tale of Detective Kaga Kyoichiro (played by Abe Hiroshi) taking on a murder case in the Ningyo-cho area of Nihonbashi, Tokyo. The whole series involves a single murder case, and the story is very much character driven. Each episode revolves around Kaga learning about eahc suspect and ruling them out of the murder case. Story wise it’s very slow moving, which gives the characters room to breathe and grow.

The acting in this one is top notch (and not just because Abe Hiroshi is one of my favourite actors), and the story is really well told. There are occasional bits of sillyness, and a fair bit of poignancy.

Here’s the theme for Shinzanmono:

I’ve even watched the 2 hour special episode and the Shizanmono movie (which I almost never do unless I really like the show).

Podcasts… again!

I’ve written about podcasts in the past, so I wont waffle on too much here.

I’ve ramped up my podcast subscriptions recently (although I’m keeping a space open for when We’re Alive: Lockdown is released), which means that they have replaced music on my commutes and trips about town.

A couple of new podcasts have been added to my list:

This doesn’t include the Japanese language ones, though. I’m using them to keep my listening comprehension up (immersion is one of the best ways to pick up new words in a language – remember that scene from 13th Warrior?)

This means I’ve got a rolling list of things that I listen to throughout the day, and learning quite a bit too (as long as it’s sticking – which I think it is, because I’m more of an auditory learner than visual).


You don’t need me to tell you how good this movie is. If you haven’t seen it, then you really need to. If you’ve already seen it, then you need to see it again.

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Jamie is a .NET developer specialising in ASP.NET MVC websites and services, with a background in WinForms and Games Development. When not programming using .NET, he is either learning about .NET Core (and usually building something cross platform with it), speaking Japanese to anyone who'll listen, learning about languages, writing for this blog, or writing for a blog about Retro Gaming (which he runs with his brother)