anime, life

Takako Ohta 35th Anniversary Live

In my last business trip to Tokyo, I couldn’t buy a flight ticket for my schedule. So, I had to take a plane for three days ahead of my original plan. It was a rainy Sunday morning when I got to the Haneda airport. I took on a limousine bus to my hotel, opened my iPhone and launched Twitter out of my habit. At the very moment, my eyes lit upon a tweet of Takako Ohta about her 35th anniversary live concert.

img_6510Takako Ohta is a Japanese voice actress and singer who is famous for Creamy Mami. I can count three animes of my early days that changed my life into an ot… anime mania: Pastel Yumi, Creamy Mami, and Kimagure Orange Road.

I had known about the live several months ago, but I thought that I couldn’t make it, and almost forgot about it. But when I saw the tweet and found that it was the day, I felt it was a kind of destiny. I went to the live house and asked whether the day ticket was available; the answer was they could know at the open time (6pm). After I dropped by the Hinamatsuri exhibition, JoJo exhibition and Ueno gallery, I returned to the site. There are tens of audience were lined up, and I asked for the ticket again. Luckily enough, I could grab a canceled one.

 

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Creamy Mami(魔法の天使クリィミーマミ), which first aired in 1983. I watched in Korea in 1987. The Korean version had different character names and songs. I watched the original version when I was at college and deeply impressed. It was the first magical girl anime series of Studio Pierrot, and it is two years before Jem (1985, I love it also).

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It was an ordinary small basement hall; I guess the capacity was 50-70 persons. I think I could be considered a young in the audience. However, the passion and the mood in the hall was beyond comparison.

I never imagined I could listen ‘パジャマのままで (Staying in My Pajamas)’ or ‘BIN KANルージュ (BIN KAN Rouge)’ live in my life. It was an accident, but the accident was one of my happiest hours this year. To have good memories that I can enjoy with, it is the most valuable thing in my life.

anime, life

Exhibition: Hinamatsuri

Although I have not done the last cour anime wrap-up, (and I’m not sure I can do that…) I can tell one thing. My best pick of the previous cour is “Hinamatsuri.”

And I got to know there is a small exhibition for Hinamatsuri in Harajuku, Tokyo from a Twitter message of TT. (Takako Tanaka, She is the heroine Hina’s character voice, and to tell the truth, her first job was my last game ‘Sid Story’ when she is in the training school. She is always passionate and diligent, and I like her acting very much.)

 

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It is hard to find the entrance.

I was there last week. It was a small space, but you can see many cuts, character designs, continuities, merchandises and so on. Moreover, everything is free to take pictures. I think it is a brilliant move because it will make viral more easily.

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There are some exhibition-limited goods such as the lovely rubber key holders. The host said to me that it was tough to develop and manufacture this product. I also never have seen this kind of product before.

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The exhibition will be until this Thursday (Sep 27th). The place is Harajuku ACG_Labo. It is a little hard to find the entrance because the building has many entrances on both side of roads, but it is a small building, and I bet you can see the right one anyway. If you enter from the wrong side, you should go up the stairs and exit to the opposite side of the road, and then you can find the right door.

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This is the wrong side. If you take the left-side stairs, you can go out to the right side of the road.

MAP: https://goo.gl/maps/TmhDveZPgz22

life

Saving Private Miyu

Miyu Takeuchi (Miyu for short) is a Japanese singer and a member of AKB48 – an idol girl group. Her debut was in 2009, and it was the start of the golden era of AKB48. But she couldn’t get much attention. Although we don’t know, it might be partly because of her introverted personality, or her artistic nature might not fit the culture of AKB48. AKB48 has a ranking system she couldn’t have taken place inside the cut 100. And she is now participating in Produce48 in Korea.

Produce48 is a competitive audition TV show in Korea. 48 girls from Korea and 48 girls from Japan fall over one another. Only 12 girls are selected for a new project idol group and two and a half year of the contract is guaranteed. The Korean members are idol apprentices who belong to their own agencies, and The Japanese members belong to AKB48 and its related groups.

The Beginning

The first show was aired on June 15th, 2018. I was moved by Miyu’s voice when she performed ‘Dancing Hero,’ and I was impressed when I got to know that she arranged the original song by herself. Crucially, my pick was set for her when I knew about her journal for ‘The Attorney’ – the movie about the (tragic) former Korean president Roh – which was written two years ago. She started the competition from the 39th place and went up to rank 8 at the EP3.

Once the affinity is set to a specific pick in this kind of survival show, it is usually getting reinforced by itself as time goes by. So, I was really shocked when I found Miyu fell to rank 30, which was the edge elimination line of the episode (EP8). I didn’t believe that the producer did not like her, but her airtime share was pretty limited in the show, and it made her difficult to appeal her attractiveness. I wanted to do something to support her, and I got to realize that I’m working in an ad tech company.

Moloco, Inc.

After leaving the gaming industry last year due to my medical issue, I had taken a recuperation, and I started a new career as a software engineer at Moloco, Inc. Moloco is an ad-tech startup that turns big data into ad performance using machine learning. We recently closed the series B, and we were selected for a Mobile LUMAscape company 2018. Our HQ is in Palo Alto, CA., and we have offices in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Seoul, and Singapore.

The recent online/mobile advertisement is no more mere selling/buying ads from a site (publisher). Many parts are automated, and there are ad exchanges (just like the stock exchange) where the bidding for an ad-spot (inventory) should be done in realtime: within 100ms (1/10 second). One of our business roles is DSP (Demand-Side Platform), we provide the real-time bidding for every ad impression (means that an ad is presented to a user) and machine-learning-optimized targeting/pricing with our advertisers. We can handle more than 600,000 bid requests per second, and we process more than 40 billion bids per day, the number is getting increasing fast day by day. We generate more than 100TB of new data daily, and we use the accumulated data for training our ML (Machine Learning) models. Many ad tech companies are saying ML and AI, but we are one of the very few companies in the world which can provide the impression-level ML/AI optimization. My colleague Haden has made a presentation about our infrastructure at Google Next 2018 conference, it is good to watch if you have an interest in it.

A world-best online advertisement infrastructure was at my disposal, with my overflowing passion, and maybe enough… pocket money. So, I decided to run an online campaign for Miyu by myself. We usually do not accept ad campaigns from an individual, so it was not a usual case in my company. I got approval for this campaign as my own personal project in a condition that I would handle whole technical and operational issues; of course the whole budget on me.

The Preparation

I had to establish the seed user profile for the campaign. Although I cannot disclose the details, I intentionally made it to target audiences who were not used to this competition and the idol cultures, but who still enjoyed TV and entertainment (so-called … muggles) in Korea (the voting was available only in Korea). I thought that there would be a very high possibility that the idol fans already had solid picks for their own. With the seed profile, I could establish an initial lift model for campaigns and made it optimized by our most basic CTR(click-through-rate) ML model. While I ran the campaign, I checked some major communities for the competition, but I could find only several mentions about this campaign. Considering the amount of the whole impression, I think the original intention was successfully fulfilled.

The First Run

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First, I wanted to promote Miyu’s story to others. I don’t have any creative (images, videos and so on) for the campaign, I should prepare them by myself. I asked one of my colleagues to make some banners at the expense of my word to participate in Alcatraz Classic… together next year (Are sharks over there?…).
And I needed a landing (where to redirect users when they click the ad), and I made a landing with a Youtube video – not of mine, but I believed it was very touching, and it described the best of her story.

m3_r1I started the ad on Aug 6. After three days run, the total impressions (the number of exposure of the ad) were 470,887, and there are 14,977 clicks. The CTR(click through rate = clicks/impressions) was started from 2.6% for the first day, and our CTR optimization logic worked well and then finally it was 3.1% (accumulated) on Aug 8. During the period, the view count of the Youtube video was grown up by 9,152. Admittedly, it is hard to tell that the increased number was all from the ad, but I think it actually worked positively for the purpose: to propagate her story.

The Second Run with a video creative

Although I thought the first run was successful, there were some limitations. Most of all, the banner ad has inherently very limited story-telling. One video is usually better than tens of images in these days, so I decided to make a video creative by myself. For a video ad, there is a 30 sec limitation in many ad-exchanges. I set the central theme with the mention of her at the second elimination stage (at EP5), and made a 24 seconds cut.

With a video creative ready, I could provide the video, native, and MRAID type of ads. As the video told her story in itself, I could have a chance to land users to the voting site directly.

m3_r2The ad was run from Aug 9, and the total impression was 2,108,695, and there were 86,681 clicks. Although I cannot tell that the all 86,681 users (there might be duplicated numbers, but we usually do not provide the same type of ads to the same user) make a vote for her, the final CTR went up to 4.1%, and I think it was a very successful campaign.

The Re-engagement

m3_r3After launching the video campaigns, I thought that it would be preferable to make another campaign that only re-targeted users who already reacted (clicked) to the previous ads. So, I made one for it.

The result was awe-inspiring. It was only two days run, but there were 81,590 impressions and 10,978 clicks, which means that the CTR was remarkably 13.5%. Because every user had a new vote every day in this competition, I found that the reengagement campaign was another useful tool.

The Result

Finally, during the campaign, there were 2,811,927 impressions and 119,396 clicks over all campaigns. I believe that no one merely thinks that there were 119,396 votes for her. Many might just look over the video or might touch the ad by mistake. However, with my best knowledge from the past experiences, I think it was a very successful campaign; at least I was truly delighted with it.

Although it is hard to disclose the budget that I spent, I can tell that it should be only a fraction of the cost of the billboards ads in the subway stations. I understand that it (the billboard) has a meaning as a monument or a tribute. However, I believe that the strategic thinking and the measurable method are the more critical factors in this type of voting competitions.

And do you want to know the result? Miyu proceeded to the final live stage by ranking 6! (from 30th, 24 ranks up) I’m really pleased with it. I wish my best for her, and I’m really happy to be able to enjoy her one more and final stage.

(Update) The Final Note

At the final stage yesterday (Aug. 31), she couldn’t make her debut. I’m so sorry about it but it is only the competition that ended. It is my greatest pleasure to get to know her this time, and I will support her until her journey continues. I fully appreciate her with the good memories this summer. Lastly, I want to introduce her Youtube channel. (Someday, I want to listen she covers some pleasant songs, something like ‘Kimagure Romantic (気まぐれロマンティック)’)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8RJBf7ftto2R1EKZC3YE0A

 

P.S.: JY sucks.

anime, life

The Summer Triangle (夏の大三角)

Last weekend, I went camping in the Korean DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). The camping site is a renovation from a shut-down school, which is just one mile from the border of South/North Korea. Of course, the place is in the area where a civilian cannot enter, but the Korean government and army established a camping site there, and we can use it with prior approval and a process at the military checkpoint.

The facility at the site is excellent, and the recent mood of reconciliation between South/North Korea makes me comfortable there. But the most exciting thing to me was a different one. That day, there was no moon, and the site should be one of the darkest areas in Korea. That means that it is the perfect point of astronomical observation.

And the feature image is my best shot – the Summer Triangle. The Summer Triangle is famous for many anime fans from the ending theme of Bakemonogatari (化物語 / Monster Story) – “Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari” (君の知らない物語 / The story you don’t know. The three stars – Denev (left in the picture), Altair (right), and Vega (top) – from the start of the TV version of the song form a shape of a triangle in the sky, and this is the Summer Triangle.

The photo is taken by Sony α7R III / Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/15mm. The lens is a manual lens, but it was the correct answer because the full-open aperture and the infinite distance is perfect for astronomical photography. Sony α7R was notorious as a Star-Eraser with its too sensitive noise reduction logic, but I think the new α7R III presented a reasonable result.

I always curious about the Summer Triangle after I listened to the song. It is too hard to watch stars in the urban area in these days. But when I see the sky this time, I could say that “That is the Summer Triangle!” It deeply moved me, and it – to be in falling starlight – must be one of my happiest hours.

life, tech

F8 2018

Weeks ago, I attended F8 2008. F8 is the tech conference of Facebook. In the tech world, it is usual to say a long word with the number of characters: F8 = Facebook. I remember the days F8 was pronounced as [feit], but everyone now calls it just [F-eight].

It is my third time of F8; I have been there 2010, 2011, which was a long time ago. Comparing to other developer conferences of other tech giants (e.g., WWDC, Google I/O and so on), F8 has been a small conference. It has been only one or two days event and space was limited. However, from the last year, it has been held at a proper place of the host’s power: San Jose Convention Center.

No over-night line for F8.

For a long time, the sanctuary of developer conferences has been Moscone Center, San Francisco. My last tech conference at San Jose Convention Center was GDC 2002. However, San Jose Convention center regains its glory days with coming back of WWDC. I’m not sure why they are returning. I prefer Moscone. Everything is convenient to access. Everywhere is within minutes of walks. However, it is true that the area is too expensive in these days for both attendees and the host.

The food was excellent with a lot of hot food selections. It is hard to prepare warm food for thousands of attendees, but the choice was excellent. Not only always-filled quality caffeine (I hate the ‘only decaf available’ time) in tank dispensers, but there were also many experienced baristas, and I can enjoy lovely lattes. The official after party was excellent (as usual for any tech-giant conference) with the Grammy-nominated artist Logic.

demo booths, short sessions, AR scavenger, flooding food
The after party

Several weeks already past and I don’t want to repeat all announcements here. I expected the mood of the event somewhat gloomy due to the Cambridge Analytica issue, but it was a happy event. I want to mention two things.

VR in Facebook is serious

Against other companies, I always feel that there is a kind of ‘grit’ in Facebook. My favorite was Occuls Go. Not because I had my free one, but I was impressed with their milestones and their intention to realize the dream. While many investors get pessimistic in these days, I felt that they have a clear goal to achieve, a detailed plan to get there, and the potential (and budget) to realize it.

The other thing was that they never talked about the money, their earning. Facebook has a robust business model: ad. Although there were some booths about Facebook ads, it was constrained and only for platform developers. They were trying to say just about how they can make more value to their users: the new features. To me, it was their confidence that they can make more money only if they can satisfy their users. And this is also the mission of my company; to let people concentrate on the value of their service without worrying about the monetization.

P.S.: To Apple. Although I couldn’t be selected for WWDC this year, please get back toasters for breakfast. The hard and cold bagel is too miserable and not proper to the name of the Apple conference.

life

In the City

Leaving Seattle with my best memories, I decided to spend this weekend in my spiritual hometown – the City, San Francisco.

I worked in San Francisco 2008-2009 at Cyworld USA. My office was on the Market St. in the area of Financial District. I remember both the energetic moment of the street in my early days and the scary scenery when the Lehman broke.

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I met an old friend who is now working for Uber, and his office is the next building of my old office, and those two buildings are a kind of twin building. For a reason, the system and floor plan are very familiar with me. However, the Uber office is excellent just as other tech-giants offices in Bay area nowadays; our office was also good but honestly not this grade.

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In my old days, I loved to walk down to the Ferry Building through the Market St at lunchtime or in the early morning. It helped me organize my thoughts. There is a local fair around the Ferry Building area on weekends. You can find a great deal sometimes.

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My best place in the City is AT&T Park – the home of San Francisco Giants. As a long-time Giants fan, I bought tickets for three days in a row this time. The first two days, I took the Lower Box seat of the 3rd base side, which was my seat of the old days. Usually, the Lower Box seat is for season ticket owners. The guy next to me was also season ticket owner of this year. It is the best spot to watch the pitcher of the away team.

The starting pitcher of LA (oh.. LA… ) of the first game was Hyun-jin Ryu, the famous Korean Major leaguer and maybe the best pitcher of Dodgers this year so far. I like him. He is a really good pitcher, and he has a same first-name with my wife; it is a neutral name in Korea. But to Giants? No way. It is a privilege and obligation of season ticket owners to welcome the opposing pitchers with warming sounds.

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The food of the City is marvelous. Chicken Tender with Garlic Fries of Derby Grill is the best of the Ballpark. I loved to grab a pizza from Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria in front of the AT&T Park to the ball game. As a steak zealot, Lark is my best steakhouse in the City, and Tad’s Steakhouse is always a reasonable option. But my favorite is the breakfast of Pinecrest Diner in Union Square. This 24hr restaurant never closes it door since its open – 1969. My best is Pinecrest Omelette, but every dish is excellent.

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I love this City. I remember almost every corner of the downtown San Francisco. Many places in my memory are still there. But sometimes, there are some figures that I have never known. There are many new skyscrapers in the City. No Borders, No Barnes & Novel, No Stacey’s Bookstore anymore. The most gloomy scenery for me this time is that my old temple turned to an ordinary T-mobile store. Living in the City is too expensive these days. Rent is doubled or tripled compared with ten years ago. Driving in the City is always a nightmare with traffics and many one-way roads, but I think it is getting worse now.

Time goes by; we have to admit it. With different people, status, and time, the City cannot be the same as my good old days. Nevertheless, the reason this City still has my most affection is this view. The view from the View Reserved seats of the ballpark.
This scenery always makes me at peace. I cannot have found any other place like this except for home.

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