Living in Japan as a language student

Last year, 2016, me and two friends moved to Japan together. However, I was not very good at blogging about it.  From now on, I’ll be writing down my memories from that time.


Why did I move to Japan

Since about early 2011 or so, me and my two friends Marcus and Erik were talking about wanting to visit Japan together some day. We decided that it would probably be a good idea to do right after we would graduate from university (which would be in 2014). In 2013, we started planning more in depth about what we would like to do, what we would like to see and how long we would like to stay. Unfortunately we didn’t see it work out at the time, since staying for longer periods would make accommodation expensive, and staying for shorter periods left us wondering if the expensive (from the perspective of university students) flight tickets were worth it.

Studying Japanese

While I was studying computer science at the university between 2011 and 2014, I took some basic classes in Japanese at the local study circle, and Marcus joined me as well.

By the end of 2014, I found an ad about studying Japanese at a school in Japan trough a Swedish travel agency. They were having an information event soon and I decided I might as well check it out, since I did have an interest in studying Japanese. I asked Marcus and Erik what they thought about it, and we all went to the event. The idea of moving to Japan and studying Japanese sounded pretty good, although it’s obviously more expensive than going there as a tourist.

Deciding and getting ready to move

Come summer 2015, and we all had decided to move to Japan. I wanted to move there for a whole year, but we decided to initially only sign up for 6 months since it felt more comfortable in the case that we’d like to get back to Sweden earlier. Tuition for 6 months was about $3250, which was not an issue since we could take a students loan from CSN. And each month we would get students allowance and an optional students loan, just like if we had decided to study in Sweden.

We had a couple of different language schools to choose from across Japan. We wanted to stay in Tokyo, and the school that the travel agency suggested to us was KAI Japanese Language School. Dealing with visa’s and accommodation was pretty straightforward. Our travel agency helped us a bit with the process, but overall we didn’t have such a great experience with the travel agency as we had liked.

Moving to Japan would require me to take leave from my work. Luckily, the law is pretty straightforward that the company cannot deny my request for unpaid leave if the reason is to study, so there were no issues to take a leave instead of having to resign.

Getting to Japan

Getting to Japan was easy enough. I had found us some cheap, one-way, youth tickets from Gothenburg to Tokyo at Finnair, for $300 per person. The flight went mostly well, unfortunately it was a nightmare for me. A couple of days prior to the flight, I had caught a cold which made my nose stuffy. Apparently this is not a good thing when it comes to pressure differences. On the decent to our first stop in Helsinki, I developed an intense pain above my eyes, like nothing I ever felt before. It even got to the point that I passed out for a short while. On the much longer decent to Tokyo, I was prepared that it would probably happen again, so I managed to deal with it without passing out. We later learned using nose spray when flying with a stuffy nose is a good idea.

Arriving at Narita Airport, immigration was a breeze. We had expected it to take a while since we figured we had to deal with visa stuff. We didn’t manage to fill in our “entering the country”-form that we got on the plane so we had to deal with it right after we landed. In the maybe 15 minutes it took us to deal with that, everyone had already passed immigration, so we could just pass trough and get our residency cards.

We headed into Tokyo using the skyliner. We were set to meet with the staff from the share house company at Nippori station. Before that we decided to get something to eat from a nearby Mos Burgers. I enjoyed it albeit being pretty tired after the flight. Erik on the other hand didn’t have much of an appetite at the moment.

Finally at our new home

Meeting up with the landlord went well. Being escorted to our new home by one of the staff was nice. I wasn’t very happy with the contract signing since the contract was in Japanese only. But we didn’t have much choice other than to sign. The rooms we were renting were really small and very basic. My room was the biggest at 12sqm, which I paid $700/month for. In total there were 12 rooms over 5 floors. One floor being common space with living room, showers and kitchen. The first day was spent mostly unpacking stuff and getting something to eat.

The first goal was to notify our ward that we had moved in. Dealing with this, we got help by one of the landlord staff. Fill in some papers, wait some hours, and it was done.


Stay tuned for more 🙂

Mini Bead Koishi Komeiji

Made this a while ago, but forgot to make a post about it.

Original artwork.

Mini Bead Flandre Scarlet

A weekend about a month ago I went to the local hobby store to buy some more bags of Hama beads, the glow-in-the-dark ones to be precise, in case I would find something interesting to do with them.

Turns out the store had a 25% discount on everything that weekend. Nice I thought, sadly it isn’t very useful for me since 3 bags of beads is quite cheap so the savings wouldn’t be very much. When I was in the bead section, I noticed they now stock Hama mini beads in various colors. Hama mini beads are half the size of regular beads (2.5mm instead of 5mm), meaning one could make higher resolution bead art without having them taking up a very large space (and would obviously look better at close range). In the end, I bought all of the mini bead colors they had, and various Hama Midi colors that I didn’t have yet. It got pretty expensive but I did a really nice saving after all.

The store only had about half of the colors Hama makes, and I wanted all colors for more freedom, so I had to order the rest directly from the Hama web shop, which includes a pretty expensive shipping fee (could get 7 bags of Hama Midi beads at the local store for the cost of shipping).

The first project I made was a design of Flandre Scarlet I found. It was quite a lot of work to get all the beads at the right places, and ironing was really hard since not all beads would melt properly and it would fall apart a bit, but I guess I need more practice.

The source of the bead design I used was by MagicPearls.

Cirno Bead Art

I recently got the idea to start creating bead art to pass time and calm down a bit after work, and I thought I’d share what I make here on my blog.

This one I didn’t really make now, but I did it at Dreamhack last summer. However, obviously I should put it here as well!

The story about this one is that I was working security at Dreamhack Summer 2015 together with a friend, and we were allowed to do everything when we weren’t on our shifts. There was this activity corner where people could create bead art. Having about 3 hours until our shift, me and my friend decided to give it a go, and obviously I wanted to do something Touhou-related, and I found this Cirno that were pixelated, perfect! However, it was so big that I didn’t manage to finish it in time for our shift. I asked if I could come back after my shift ended at 1am, but since it was the last day they told me they’ll pack everything down by 8pm. Feeling down, I went to my shift, leaving Cirno unfinished on the table. Luckily, about 1.5 hours into the shift we had a small 50 minute break where me and my friend rushed back to complete the Cirno.

Making Suwako Moriya’s Hat: Part 2

A continuation of the previous post, Making Suwako Moriya’s Hat: Part 1.

So it’s been a while since I posted about this, but now it’s done (and have been for a while), so let’s continue! If you only want to see a demo, there’s a video in the end.

After doing some basic stuff with coding and the 8×8 matrices, I took a little break while being busy with some other things. When I finally got some free time, I started on the other end, making the actual spheres that would be the eyes. I figured the easiest way would be to 3D print spheres.

My first try was to make a sphere, and have pipes going from the surface down to the LED matrix that would be placed in the middle of the sphere.

The first sphere I designed, with pipes to each LED

The first sphere I designed, with pipes to each LED

I used 123D Design to create a dome with 64 pipes to the edge. Was easy enough, just that I didn’t have any way to print it… Then a friend suggested 3DHubs to me, a site where you can find people near you that prints your models on their 3D printers for a fee. Unfortunately my sphere was big and the pipes used a lot of material, and the price was just too expensive. That’s when I got the idea to cut down the pipes to be shorter, but not too short, the matrix still has to fit inside. Doing that saved loads of material, and I could get it down to 180SEK ($21) for one dome at the cheapest place.

Unfortunately it was very hard to print right and still took a long time, and I quickly discovered that it didn’t really work as I had hoped, the pipes were leaking light, as can be seen in the video below. It’s also really really huge.

I decided to give up on the 8×8 matrix, the spheres were just too large and too expensive to print at higher detail. I decided to try with a 6×6 matrix instead, but I couldn’t find that dimension and figured I would have to create one myself. A friend of mine had suggested buying LEDs from Ali Express, and I bought loads of the same chip that’s used in NeoPixels for cheap, about $16 per 100 LEDs. These come in blocks of 10×10 LEDs, unless they break while shipping. Which they did. I ended up using superglue to glue LEDs back together to create a 6×6 matrix.

The only issue was soldering. I never soldered in my life, and I didn’t want to spend too much on tools. All I got was a cheap solder iron with adjustable temperature and inaccurate hands. It was extremely frustrating experience and took almost a week per matrix since I couldn’t stand working on it for too long (having to desolder several times, since the solder pads were really close to each other). I think I spent around 5 – 6 hours of soldering on each matrix. And since the solder pads were so close to each other, I couldn’t use straight wires since they would break however I tried, and had to bend them. I was really worried the soldering would break during me walking around.

From previous experience using white, thin pipes didn’t work very well. My next idea was to make a thin, white dome and a solid inner part made out of black material.

The inner part

The inner part

It was still quite expensive to make, but it worked a lot better than the old model. Unfortunately, the brightness on the surface wasn’t very great, it worked in a dark room but would probably be near invisible outside.

I started looking around for ideas, and that’s when I found the best thing possible, in the local hobby chain store. There was this clear Christmas ball that had an inner wall in the middle that could be removed. And amazingly, it had the exact same dimension as the sphere I made for the 6×6 matrix, meaning it would fit just perfectly!

Unfortunately, being in the middle of the summer, it wasn’t in stock. But they had it in their warehouse, and a week later I could go and collect them. I bought some white, acrylic spray paint and painted one side of the inner wall white, and the inside of one of the domes white, but prior to painting I drilled a small hole for the wires to enter the sphere. Placing the LED matrix on the wall and closing worked alright, but needed some effort. I didn’t have to use any glue or anything, since the wires would actually fit just enough into the dome that it would push the matrix against the wall. After some testing, it worked really great and it was extremely bright. Nice!

Well then. Now we have the LED matrices and the eyes. What about the hat? This was a bit harder.

I figured I would buy some thick paper in the same hobby store, but how would I cut it? Since Suwako’s hat isn’t really a top hat, I can’t just roll it up. Luckily, I figured if I made a cone of a specific size and cut that in half it would work. Said and done, after doing some calculation, cuttings and gluing, I had a Suwako hat. But the paper looks really ugly and doesn’t look as a proper hat at all. I got some fabric, but how would I cut the fabric and wrap it around the hat? Since I had already assembled the paper, I figured it would be a bit harder. And I wasn’t very happy with the hat either, as it was a bit smaller than I had hoped, since the papers dimension was a limiting factor (the store only had sheets of 64x46cm).

I went to a store that specializes in paper and paper products, and found a thick sheet of paper that were 100x70cm, perfect. But I wanted to do the perfect cuts too, and be able to visualize the hat before assembling. Back to 123D design we go!

Model of the hat

Model of the hat

I modeled up a hat with the dimensions I wanted and made hole for the eyes. But how do I make a template out of it? With Pepakura Designer, of course! Pepakura is a software to import 3D models and make paper crafts of them by unfolding the 3D model onto 2D. Usually I’d guess it wouldn’t be used on this kind of scale, but it’s worth a shot! Unfortunately, it didn’t like the STL’s that 123D Designer exported. There were tens of thousands of faces, and Pepakura warned for this. The resulting unfold was rather messy. I talked to a friend of mine on Steam that I makes paper craft and I’d figure also know about Pepakura. They looked at it for a bit and cleaned it up, and I got back the template. Thank you!

Obviously I didn’t have a printer that could print to a 100x70cm sheet, but luckily Pepakura can split a template up into several A4’s, that I assembled and cut out from the sheet, and cut out some bigger parts from the fabric. After some work, I had a hat assembled. Unfortunately I’m rather bad at creating stuff with my hands so the hat got a bit skewed but it wasn’t very noticeable. Inserting the eyes were quite hard to get right, and I had to have the matrix powered on to know the correct orientation. Unfortunately the hole wasn’t always oriented properly with the eye (using the arrow eyes for orientation), but that was easily fixed in code later, as long as the arrow pointed top, left, right or down and not in between. Unfortunately it was a bit hard and I didn’t manage to get it completely right, but it still turned out alright.

Then, back to the code! I had most things worked out, except for the Android app. And it was only a few days left for the convention. It was some hectic days, but after a while, it was all done!

Going to the convention was a weird experience, since I got there by taking a 4 hour bus. But to get to the bus I had to take the local tram to the larger bus station. Some people looked a bit confused at me, but no one really cared at all. Hat in action

It worked really well during the convention, but it was rather heavy and uncomfortable to wear, since the hat would press down and bend my ears at all time. Sadly, my fear of soldering slightly came true on the second day, when one of the eyes started acting up, where the colors wouldn’t be the proper color or the LEDs weren’t bright. A friend at the convention suspected it being a power issue, and might as well, but after accidentally putting the hat down a bit too hard, it started working again!

It was fun and I enjoyed making it, but I’ll probably make something that’s easier on my ears next time! Source code is still available on GitHub!

Complex data structures with node-ffi

I recently got tasked with creating a node.js wrapper around one of our C libraries at work. Since I already created a java wrapper around the same C library, I knew what I needed to do and started looking into some options, which were to either create a node addon or using node-ffi. I was tired of writing stuff in C (a language I’ve barely used) since I made the java wrapper in JNI, I chose to try node-ffi.

Node-ffi was really easy to get started with, as long as your library functions used primitive datatypes. However, our C library uses a lot of structs, and that’s where things got complicated. Fortunately, there is the ref-struct node module, which makes it easy to define a struct. However, we had some string maps and string arrays that consisted of a struct holding a pointer and a length, something like this:

On the javascript side, it would be mapped like this:

Easy enough? Here’s where I got stuck. The C library would return a struct with a length of 7 (len set to 7).

You can probably get the issue, how do I get all of the elements? It took me quite a while, but here’s how I did:

This will create a javascript object of the StringMap, using the keys as object keys.

Let’s check the documentation for ref.get(buffer, offset, type). It accepts the buffer holding the data, an offset and the type. What we have to do is to iterate over the pointers, in steps of 4 bytes on 32-bit systems and 8 bytes on 64-bit systems. Using ref.sizeof.pointer we can get the correct size. This can also be used on a string array made the same way (a struct containing a pointer to a string (char *) and a length), just skip the key and push the return value of ref.get to an array).

But what about a struct containing an array of a different struct? Here it becomes complicated.

And on javascript:

The language struct takes 24 bytes to store on a 64-bit system (3 fields * 8 bytes). If you try to use the same code as we did for our string map:

You soon notice it will throw an exception that the passed in buffer needs to be at least 24 bytes. I assume it refers to language, so I tried to pass in a buffer with a size of 24 or more, or do a ref.alloc(language) since the documentation said it would create a buffer with the correct size and the correct type set. However, that would throw an error “could not determine a proper “type” from: [0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,32,2,75,1,0,0,3,0,91,44,93,23,0,0,0,0]“. Well, not really helpful. I tried reading the documentation and trying out various things, but nothing worked. Then by sheer luck, when I was ready to give up, I managed to stumble upon one of the fields:

What the hell? So turns out that when calling ref.get with the type of ref.types.CString, we can get the values of the strings. They seem to come in the same order as the struct is defined, so at offset 0, we get the id field of the first struct, at offset 8 (element 0 + size of CString on a 64-bit os) we get the name field of element 0, at offset 16 we get the code field of element 0, at offset 24 we get the id field of element 1 and so on and so on. In this snippet, 3 is the number of fields in the struct, and is valid if each field is a string. If a field is something else than a string, you obviously need to make changes to the offset calculations and the size parameter (the last one).

This means you have to recreate your data structure and this may not be the correct way of doing it, but at least it works, and I hope it saves you from any headaches :D.

Making Suwako Moriya’s Hat: Part 1

Suwako Moriya and her hat

Suwako Moriya and her hat

Some months ago, around October, I was Skyping with a friend late at night and we started to talk about Touhou, Suwako Moriya and Arduinos. Having wanting to do something with Arduinos for a long while—my last project being my RFID-enabled door lock—I decided make myself Suwako’s hat, but with LED’s inside the eyes of the hat. My plan is to wear it at NĂ€rCon, Sweden’s largest convention.

The next day I went to a local store that sold Arduinos and a small variety of different components, and bought myself an Arduino Uno and a small 8×8 LED matrix to test with. The staff at the store didn’t know what color it was since it wasn’t specified anywhere, but it turns out it was a red LED matrix, not exactly what I wanted since I wanted RGB, but it was good enough to test some ideas with.

Next up was finding something to make the eyes from, where I could mount the LED matrices inside. It was hard to find, but in the end I found a Gashapon-style vending machine at my local food store that had large enough capsules to fit LED matrices inside. I bought two of them and planned to paint them white.

The LED matrix had some issues though, when put close to a surface, the dots would bleed together, not creating the effect I want.

I decided to continue with just creating something with LED matrices and worry about the actual hat and eyes later on. Since I didn’t like the LED matrix being single color, I decided to take a look at RGB LEDs. That’s when I found NeoPixels, and while the same store I bought the original matrix had some NeoPixel products, they didn’t have the 8×8 RGB NeoPixel Matrix. Fortunately a Swedish online store does stock them and other Adafruit products, so I ordered two 8×8 NeoMatrix and I had them two days later. Hooking them up to the Arduino wasn’t all that hard but I had to replace all my code so far to use the NeoPixel and NeoMatrix library instead.

These things are bright!

These things are bright!

One issue though, according to the specifications of the LED matrices they use a lot of power, about 60mA per LED that’s set to full brightness on white, that’s 3.84A for one panel and 7.68A for two panels, if all LEDs were set to full white! Fortunately I wont be using all LEDs at once, but even 32 LEDs on full light (16 LEDs on each panel) would end up at 2A. An AA battery for example would discharge in about 1 hour at that rate, but I don’t expect to use full brightness (the above picture is at 3% brightness), so it’ll probably last for a while. Since I’ll be wearing this hat for 4 days at NĂ€rCon, having it powered on when I’m not sleeping, I got myself two 12000mAh USB battery packs just in case. The plan was to use both batteries at the same time, one powering one of the LED matrices and the Arduino itself, and one powering the other matrix. So I ended up buying two mini-USB breakout boards to tap into the power of the batteries, unfortunately I never got it to work since I don’t think those battery packs are made for stuff like this, only one of the LED matrices would power on (occasionally, both matrices would power on), and with my limited knowledge of electronics I couldn’t figure it out, perhaps it was an issue with how I connected the grounds. In the end I decided to use only one battery pack for everything while the other is charging.

I started making a simple animation with regular eyes that randomly looks around. The plan is to have different kind of animations and different kind of eyes, as well as different colors.

But having it work on its own is boring, right? Remote control! I bought a cheap IR receiver and control set at the local store, planning to use that to control which eyes are on and what colors, but that only gives limited options and would be awkward to use. So I head back to Lawicel, the Swedish retailer of Adafruit stuff, and bought the nRF8001 Bluetooth LE chip! The plan is to use my OnePlus One to control eyes, colors and other stuff, and when that’s implemented I would head on to make an Android Wear app for my LG G Watch R so I can control the hat from my watch. Implementing Bluetooth was quite hard at a first glance, especially since I don’t really know C++. I found some examples that I tried to modify to fit my project, but it just wouldn’t work, the LED matrices would just flash and misbehave. Took me a week of thinking to figure out what was wrong, and in the end it turns out I had ran out of RAM, since the Arduino only has 2KB of RAM and I was storing the eye patterns in a bad way, using around 192B RAM, which I later could optimize down to only 24B after someone in #arduino pointed out that I should use bitshifting instead.

Android app draft

Android app draft

The Android application is currently pretty much a draft and not much to see. When it’s done you should be able to select which eye to draw on each matrix or to enter random mode. You should also be able to select the color, or put it in fade/random color mode.

The hard part for me would probably be how to make the actual hat and eyes. For the eyes I’ve been thinking 3D printing would be my only choice, and I have to find a makerspace that would let me use their 3D printer for this. I have done some 3D modeling in Autodesk Maya trough my high school years, but it was quite a while ago and this time I’d have to use something free like Blender. The fact that I never done anything to be 3D printed before makes it even harder. My idea so far is to make a sphere that can be taken into two parts, much like those Gashapon capsules. I’m uncertain on how to solve the color bleed issue, but the plan was to have small pipes from each LED on the matrix to the surface of the sphere, but I’m unsure if that would work.

I have released all the source code on GitHub, but be warned I don’t know much about C++ and electronics like these, so there might be some weird stuff going on.

Lastly, below is a video of my progress so far with “random mode” and color fading. It still needs a lot of tweaks, obviously the eyes should not change that often. Currently it has a 3% chance of changing every tick, and there are about 50  – 60 ticks every second, so it changes pretty fast, but it’ll be updated later on to a much saner value. Stay tuned for part 2!

Piratpartiet – Konsten att bredda för snabbt

Existential Crisis Cat

Var det en bra idé att anvÀnda katter i valmaterialet?       KÀlla: felloffmybike

This post will be written entirely in Swedish unlike my other English posts. You are free to use Google Translate if you’d like to read it in case you don’t understand Swedish.


Nu har det varit val, och det gick som det gick, men valresultatet i helhet ska jag inte ta upp hÀr. Utan det Àr specifikt om Piratpartiet resultat och kampanj jag ska diskutera.

Efter tvÄ val sÄ kan vi se tydligt att nÄgot inte fungerade. I EU-valet blev vi övergivna av vÄra tidigare vÀljare och i riksdagsvalet Àr siffrorna inte klara Àn. Vad gick rÀtt? Lite. Vad fick fel? Mycket. Beroende pÄ hur man ser det.

Det finns en sak jag irriterat mig pÄ över Piratpartiet sedan jag blev aktiv ett Är sedan, och jag tror det Àr en av de största anledningarna till att det inte gÄr sÄ bra. Det handlar om kommunikation. Sverige förstÄr inte problemet vi försöker lösa. De vet inte hur det pÄverkar dem. Det Àr hÀr Piratpartiet missar stort. Det hjÀlper inte att sÀga att vi Àr emot massövervakning. Det hjÀlper inte att sÀga att vi Àr för att bevara nÀtneutraliteten. Inte förrÀn folk förstÄr hur de blir pÄverkade, vad problemet Àr och dÀrför förstÄr man inte meningen med Piratpartiet.

Varför röstar man inte pÄ Piratpartiet?

Det Àr ett uppenbart problem som man mÄste lösa, men det Àr ett extremt komplicerat problem och det finns tusentals anledningar till problemet, och flera olika lösningar.

  1. Jag förstÄr inte Piratpartiets politik
  2. Jag tycker inte Piratpartiet Àr seriöst
  3. Piratpartiet Àr ett enfrÄgeparti
  4. Jag har inte sett Piratpartiet tillrÀckligt
  5. Namnet Àr ett dÄligt val
  6. MissförstÄnd över vad Piratpartiet vill

Denna lista Àr bara nÄgra fÄ anledningar varför folk har valt bort Piratpartiet sedan partiet skapades. Under de senaste fyra Ären har Piratpartiet fokuserat mest pÄ nummer tre, att bredda partiets frÄgor. Jag tycker man borde ha fokuserat pÄ nummer ett först.

Valde folk bort Piratpartiet för att det var ett enfrÄgeparti, eller för att de inte förstod problemet Piratpartiet tog upp?

Jag sjÀlv tror pÄ det senare. FörstÄr man inte problemet eller hur det pÄverkar en sÄ Àr det lÀtt hÀnt att man ignorerar det, eller helt enkelt inte ser det som problem alls.

Visst Àr det bra att ha flera frÄgor, men det Àr vÀrdelöst nÀr de inte Àr tillrÀckligt tydliga eller fokuserade. PÄ senare tid har Piratpartiet blivit nÄgot av en Jack of all trades, master of none, eller tusenkonstnÀr.

“”Jack of all trades, master of none” is a figure of speech used in reference to a person that is competent with many skills, but is not necessarily outstanding in any particular one.” — Wikipedia

Piratpartiet har valt att bredda istÀllet för att fördjupa sig i de frÄgor de redan hade. Effekten har blivit att Piratpartiet har mÄnga Äsikter men Àr inte sÀrskilt fokuserade i nÄgon av dem. Vissa av Äsikterna delas av andra partier redan och dÄ blir det svÄrt att fÄ folk att rösta pÄ oss istÀllet. Vissa av Äsikterna Àr rÀtt kontroversiella och ifall de inte förklaras pÄ rÀtt sÀtt sÄ skadar det partiet istÀllet för att hjÀlpa. Till exempel avkriminalisering av lÀttare droger, basinkomst och fri nedladdning hÄller de flesta borta ifall de inte förstÄr vad, hur och varför.

IstÀllet för att bredda Ànnu mera sÄ mÄste vi nu sÀtta oss och fokusera pÄ att utbilda. Vi mÄste fÄ det svenska folket att förstÄ varför massövervakning Àr ett problem. Vi mÄste fÄ det svenska folket att förstÄ varför vi mÄste vÀrna om nÀtneutraliteten och integriteten.

Saken Àr den, dessa problem Àr svÄra att förstÄ utan förkunskap. FrÄgar du nÄgon med examen i datavetenskap och nÄgon i ett icke-datarelaterat Àmne kommer du fÄ olika svar. Datavetaren vet (antagligen) vad du pratar om och ser problemet, medan den andre kanske förstÄr konceptet men ser inte problemet med det.

Ta massövervakning till exempel. Vi tycker massövervakning Àr fel pÄ grund av att alla pÄverkas och rÀtten till privatliv försÀmras. De tycker att massövervakning Àr rÀtt för det har möjlighet att förhindra brott, och missar vÄran poÀng helt och hÄllet, eller avfÀrdar den eftersom de inte ser hur de kan pÄverkas av det (men jag har ju inget att dölja). Massövervakning Àr en term som nog alla förstÄr, men inte nödvÀndigtvis problemen bakom.

Ta nu nĂ€tneutralitet. HĂ€r blev det genast svĂ„rare. Jag vet att jag sjĂ€lv hade problem med termen mĂ„nga Ă„r sedan. SjĂ€lva termen sĂ€ger inte mycket om vad exakt det handlar om. FrĂ„gar man en person pĂ„ gatan om vad den tycker om nĂ€tneutralitet Ă€r det verkligen inte sĂ€kert vad du syftar pĂ„. HĂ€r krĂ€vs det att man förklarar det. Har man mot förmodan koll pĂ„ vad termen betyder kan det vara svĂ„rt att se varför internetleverantörerna inte fĂ„r bestĂ€mma över nĂ€ten — för det Ă€r vĂ€l Ă€ndĂ„ en tjĂ€nst man bestĂ€ller och den som levererar tjĂ€nsten Ă€r den som kan sĂ€tta reglerna, eller?

Jag hoppas ni förstÄr poÀngen. Vi mÄste bli bÀttre pÄ att utbilda det svenska folket pÄ dessa omrÄden, och det behöver göras pÄ ett sÄdant sÀtt som inte krÀver förkunskaper. Det finns mÄnga sÀtt att göra detta, och det behöver nödvÀndigtvis inte vara kortfattat heller. Visst blir det svÄrt att fÄ folk att ta in mycket information, men det finns alltid vÀgar att gÄ. Ordna förelÀsningar, hÄll en kurs, skriva artiklar, böcker, skapa podcasts, video mm. MÄlet Àr helt enkelt att se till att alla har tillrÀckligt med kunskap, sen sprida politiken.

Och dÀr kommer andra problemet med Piratpartiet in: kommunikation. Piratpartiet har svÄrt att nÄ ut och det knyter ihop med det föregÄende problemet jag diskuterade. Folk vet inte att Piratpartiet existerar och vad vi vill, dels för att vi inte syns och dÀr vi syns Àr inte dÀr folk tittar. Piratpartiet lever i sin egna lilla bubbla som Àr nÄgorlunda ljudisolerad. Ibland kan man höra saker komma ut ur bubblan, men oftast stannar allting inom bubblan.

Att synas i media Àr svÄrt, men till slut mÄste vi hitta ett sÀtt att fÄ media att skriva om oss. Att skriva artiklar pÄ en blogg hjÀlper inte ifall det inte nÄr ut till alla. Att dela nÄgot pÄ Facebook hjÀlper heller inte mycket sÄ lÀnge det faktiskt inte sprider sig ordentligt. Med tanke pÄ hur Facebooks algoritm fungerar, Àven ifall du har 600 kompisar kanske bara en handfull ser vad du skriver i deras nyhetsflöde (och har ju bara en kort tidsperiod att faktiskt se inlÀgget).

Jag har sett mÄnga bra diskussioner och argument i Piratpartiets Facebookgrupp. TyvÀrr sÄ dör de dÀr de startar. Man sitter alltsÄ och diskuterar saker med personer som redan hÄller med om Äsikten, och Äsikten kommer sÀllan ut till meningsmotstÄndare eller övriga. De som lÀser Piratpartiets Facebookgrupp Àr ju redan (oftast) Piratpartister, sÄ att kampanja för sig sjÀlv skapar ingen spridning. Det hjÀlper dock med att utveckla politiken, dela förslag och utbilda oss sjÀlva, men som sagt sÄ hörs det inte. NÄgon som inte Àr intresserad av Piratpartiet kommer inte sitta och lÀsa Facebookgruppen.

Valkampanjerna har varit allt för korta. Och dÄ menar jag verkligen korta. Vi kanske startade samtidigt som alla andra partier, men det Àr just det, vi kan inte starta samtidigt som de etablerade partierna. Jag sjÀlv började kampanja inför EU-valet i oktober 2013, men eftersom det inte fanns nÄgot EU-material fÀrdigt sÄ blev det svÄrare. FrÄgan Àr ifall vi inte behöver ha en konstant kampanj. AlltsÄ, inte kampanja i en mÄnad sen praktiskt taget dö ut till nÀsta valperiod. Se till att valmaterial finns klart, och kampanja varje eller varannan helg, eller till och med en gÄng i mÄnaden. Jag tror ni förstÄr min poÀng. Det gÄr inte att vara inaktiv i 4 Är, utan behöver ha ett stÀndigt kampanjande.

Vi mÄste fÄ folk att prata om massövervakning, integritet, nÀtneutralitet och allt annat vi tycker. Konstant. Ingen ska fÄ glömma. Och dÄ ska vi inte enbart nÀmna termerna utan Àven sÄ utförligt som det gÄr beskriva dem ocksÄ. Ju mer folk Àr medvetna om problemet, desto enklare gÄr det att sprida Piratpartiet och utbilda. Det gÄr inte att vÀnta till nÀsta katastrof eller nÀsta avslöjande och bli högljudda dÄ, vi mÄste konstant vara högljudda.

Nog om det, jag tror ni förstÄr vad jag vill fÄ sagt: fördjupning, utbildning och kommunikation Àr vad som krÀvs.

Nu till valmaterialet. Jag kan kort sÀga att jag inte gillade det mesta av valmaterialet. Budskapen var ibland otydliga, motiven och den grafiska designen var verkligen inte iögonfallande. Jag gillade dem helt enkelt inte. Sen kom EU-valmaterialet som faktiskt sÄg snyggt ut. Snygga affischer med klara budskap och man ser personerna man röstar pÄ. Samma gÀller flygbladen, valmanifesten och övrigt inför EU-valet.

Sen kom materialet inför riksdagsvalet och vi Ă€r Ă„terigen ett steg bakĂ„t. Internet gillar katter, eller hur? Och hĂ€r blir det Ă„terigen att tala till oss sjĂ€lva. De som inte Ă€r insatta i den specifika, lilla kultur som Ă€r “vi Ă€r internet, vi gillar katter”, kommer inte ta det seriöst. Jag har hört flera kommentarer frĂ„n icke-piratpartister ifall vi Ă€r seriösa med vĂ„rt valmaterial, att de inte tycker att Piratpartiet ser seriösa ut med valmaterialet. Inget illa menat till de personerna som skapade dessa, jag vet sjĂ€lv hur svĂ„rt det kan vara att skapa nĂ„got snyggt, men ibland behöver saker vara enkla att tyda och uppmĂ€rksamma samtidigt som de ser professionella ut (och ha relevanta motiv, för i slutĂ€ndan har katter inget att göra med vĂ„r politik).

För att avrunda det hela, Piratpartiet behöver verkligen jobba med fördjupning, utbildning och kommunikation under nĂ€stkommande fyra Ă„ren. Ingen ska fĂ„ glömma oss och alla ska veta vad vi vill. Jag hoppas att jag inte trampar pĂ„ allt för mĂ„nga tĂ„r med denna text för det Ă€r inte meningen, utan jag vill föra fram mina synpunkter pĂ„ hur partiet ska bli Ă€nnu bĂ€ttre. Jag kommer sjĂ€lvklart fortsĂ€tta vara aktiv Piratpartist – no matter what!

A new phase

What happened to me, and why was my site down? Well, I was busy with other things.

During the spring I was busy with doing my final thesis (which can be read in English here or here). That took a lot of my time and many hard weeks later I finally got my Bachelor of Science with a Major in Computer Science (in Swedish: Filosofie kandidatexamen med huvudĂ€mnet datalogi). So I guess I’m a web developer with a degree now!

Right after receiving my degree, I got a mail from someone at my university, offering me a job as a research assistant in the field of open source and open standards! At first, I was uncertain about it and was considering declining since I didn’t have a place to live after the summer (I didn’t pass the requirements for my student apartment any more), but I decided I would go to the interview to see what it was all about.

I left the interview with a couple of their previous research papers and I was invited to a second interview, leaving me some time to decide. I was still uncertain, but I was still thinking of declining since I didn’t where to live. However, at the second interview, I decided I would take the job. The pay was good and certainly better than nothing at all. That’s when the hunt for somewhere to live started.

Finding something to rent is pretty much impossible if you haven’t been in the queue for long enough. I’ve been in the queue at the company that ran the student apartments for three year, but you had to have been in the queue for five years before even having a chance. Even at other companies it was impossible, since I hadn’t placed myself in their queue previously. I looked far and wide, in all the nearby cities, with no luck.

I tried looking for renting apartments as a “second hand renter”, I would rent an apartment from someone who rents it from someone else. I did not get much replies on the mails I sent, and the ones I got was a bit dodgy and some sounded like a scam.

After about a month of this and still having nowhere to live, I got desperate. Then by chance, I was looking at apartments that you “buy” (called “bostadsrĂ€tt” in Swedish, it’s a type of apartment where you “buy” the apartment in an auction, but you don’t own the apartment, you own a share in the company owning the apartment and the right to live there. You still have to pay monthly.). I had disregarded this option in the beginning since they usually involve a huge investment (in Skövde, it’s not unusual for a one-room apartment to cost 200 000SEK ($29000), being a newly graduated student, I didn’t have anywhere near that).

I found an apartment in a nearby town, 20 minutes away by train, that was being sold at an opening bid of 15 000SEK ($2176) which I could definitely afford. The auction had been open for 7 days already with a bid at 25 000SEK ($3628), and was about to end, when I called them and requested a visit.

It was pretty close to the train station, which was pretty good. The apartment however was small and old. It was on the 3rd floor, no elevator but that didn’t matter. The walls in the room needed to be fixed since the previous owner had made huge holes in the wallpaper, but I knew about that since before since it was stated in the ad. The kitchen was small, could barely fit one person in there. Same with the bathroom, almost no place to move around. But I had no choice, I needed somewhere to live. So I made a bid at 27 000SEK ($3918).

All previous bidders left, and I thought I was safe, until a new bidder came. The price went all the way up to 51 000SEK ($7400). Luckily I got the GSoC stipend last year which I still hadn’t spent as well as some other savings from previous work and an Android app contest I once won, I managed to buy the apartment, but it was just on the limit.

The whole move has been quite stressful. It all started back in July. My old apartment had a terms of notice of 3 months, meaning I had to cancel the apartment 3 months before I move and I’d still have to pay the rent for those 3 months. June and July are free months, so if you are smart, you cancel the apartment in April and you can leave it in July, unfortunately I wasn’t smart and cancelled it a month too late. However, if the new renter would be interested in moving in in August instead of September, then I don’t have to pay the rent.

So I made all the preparations in hope I wouldn’t have to pay for August. I needed a place to move my stuff though, and my mothers friend offered his storage for free, in a town about 130km away. So we moved all of the stuff there, which cost me 1600SEK ($232). Then it turns out the new renter didn’t sign until September, so I had to pay rent anyway, about 4500SEK ($653). Then we had to move all the stuff back to the new apartment when I got access to it, which again cost me about 2000SEK ($290), and I bought some new furniture at IKEA for roughly the same price.

I finally got my stuff moved in but I couldn’t put up much of my furniture since we need to paint the room and it would be a hassle with the furniture in the way. I decided I will do the painting myself together with a friend, since it would be extremely expensive to have a painter do it, so I hope it turns out okay (I chose a light blue paint, btw). I’ll try to document the process and post it here later when it’s done.

Enough of that though. Today marks 2 weeks at my new job. I don’t really know what to say about it. I’m collecting data about how Firefox implements various open web standards. So far I’ve read the Web Storage and the Indexed Database specifications and I have read a lot of bug reports and tried to summarize them. To be honest, it’s a lot to read and it isn’t particularly fun at times (but it’s still interesting). I had rather wanted to code something, but I knew what I was getting myself into, but I still think it’s great experience and good money right out of college. I’m still unsure what exactly I’m supposed to do, and I have a hard time to focus, but it’ll probably get better when I’m more used of it and have a clear path. It’s only a short-term position until the end of the year anyway, then I have to decide if I should sell my newly bought apartment and move somewhere else (closer to webdev jobs) or stay and do some freelancing or something I can do from home.

Varför jag kommer rösta pÄ Piratpartiet

Jag röstar pÄ Piratpartiet i EU-valet

This post will be written entirely in Swedish unlike my other English posts. You are free to use Google Translate if you’d like to read it in case you don’t understand Swedish.


Ni vet sÀkerligen att det Àr valÄr i Är och inte enbart riksdagsval utan Àven EU-val. Med det sÄ kommer det sjÀlvklara valet om vilket parti man litar pÄ som tar upp de Äsikter man sjÀlv tycker Àr viktiga i dagens samhÀlle. Vissa kommer rösta pÄ det de alltid röstat pÄ, vissa kommer rösta pÄ de som Àr mest aktuella idag och vissa kommer inte rösta alls.

MÄnga av mina vÀnner vet sÀkerligen att jag Àr Piratpartist och dessutom aktiv inom partiet (dock inte lika aktiv som andra, men har pÄ senare tid försökt att bli mer aktiv). Jag har suttit som vice kommunledare i Piratpartiet Skövde nÀr det fortfarande existerade och sitter som sekreterare i Ung Pirat Skövde och möjligen kommer jag sitta i fler styrelser i framtiden.

Varför Àr jag aktiv inom Piratpartiet dÄ? Jag Àr en webbutvecklare och hela mitt yrke gÄr ut pÄ att internet Àr fritt och tillgÀngligt för alla dÀr alla har lika möjligheter. Ifall folk blir avskrÀckta frÄn att anvÀnda internet, kvaliteten sÀnks eller att internet begrÀnsas helt och hÄllet blir hela mitt yrke nÀst intill vÀrdelöst dÄ det inte kommer finna nÄgon att utveckla för. Det Àr möjligt att det aldrig gÄr sÄ lÄngt men ser man vad som sker med internet idag i flera lÀnder sÄ Àr det dit det Àr pÄ vÀg.

Massövervakning

Jag Ă€r helt emot massövervakning. Massövervakning har inte mĂ„nga fördelar, ifall nĂ„gra fördelar alls, för privatpersoner. Det kommer inte att förhindra brott förutom de kriminella som Ă€r dumma nog att planera sina brott pĂ„ en öppen plattform. Även ifall e-mail eller andra “privata” meddelanden ser ut att vara privata sĂ„ Ă€r de likstĂ€llt till att skicka vykort pĂ„ posten — alla som hanterar meddelandet kan lĂ€sa det. Det enda sĂ€ttet att skydda meddelandet Ă€r genom stark kryptering och dĂ„ har man direkt gjort massövervakningen helt vĂ€rdelös.

Har man rent mjöl i pÄsen sÄ har man inget att frukta

Fel. Det leder till sjĂ€lvcensur, att man avstĂ„r att delta i diskussioner som skulle kunna vara kontroversiella eller helt enkelt pinsamt ifall personer som inte var avsedda att höra diskussionen hör den. TĂ€nk dig att du sitter i ett rum med en person du vill diskutera nĂ„got viktigt med som enbart angĂ„r dig och personen. Du vet att du aldrig hade vĂ„gat sĂ€ga det du skulle sĂ€ga ifall det fanns andra personer i rummet. Men nu helt plötsligt sitter en FRA-arbetare i rummet, dock har han sagt “lĂ„tsas som jag inte Ă€r hĂ€r”. Du och personen byter rum och FRA följer med. I slutet av dagen fick du aldrig sagt det du ville sĂ€ga. Ju mer övervakat internet blir ju mer kommer den situationen uppstĂ„, dock kommer det kanske inte vara uppenbart för alla att det Ă€r nĂ„gon som (kanske just nu, kanske senare, kanske aldrig) lyssnar. SjĂ€lvklart kan man inte vara hundra pĂ„ att nĂ„gon kommer lĂ€sa det man skriver, men vad vĂ€ljer man oftast, det sĂ€kra före det osĂ€kra eller tvĂ€rtom?

Vad ifall det du sa igĂ„r helt enkelt blir olagligt idag? Helt plötsligt blir du flaggad för Ă€nnu mer övervakning för att du diskuterade nĂ„got som var helt lagligt nĂ€r du sa det. Är du sĂ€ker pĂ„ att det du precis sa kommer tolkas lika av alla? NĂ„got som Ă€r helt okej enligt dig och dina kompisar kanske startar en hel utredning om ditt liv i bakgrunden. Sarkasm fungerar inte sĂ„ bra pĂ„ nĂ€tet, vad ifall nĂ„gon missförstĂ„r dig? Vad ifall det du sa Ă€r taget ur kontext? Det har redan hĂ€nt. Ett automatiserat övervakningssystem kommer inte kunna veta vad som Ă€r sarkasm och vad som inte Ă€r, det kommer heller inte kunna utgöra kontexten pĂ„ samma sĂ€tt som en mĂ€nniska kan.

Du kan heller inte veta hur systemet fungerar och ifall det fungerar och anvĂ€nds pĂ„ rĂ€tt sĂ€tt. Vad ifall den sittande regeringen vill fĂ„ bort de som sĂ€ger emot dem? DĂ„ blir det vĂ€ldigt enkelt att ta reda pĂ„ vem som Ă€r emot dem — de har ju trots allt en databas av det du nĂ„gonsin sagt (kanske inte i dagslĂ€get, men det gĂ„r Ă„t det hĂ„llet).

Men Facebook, Google och andra företag samlar ju ÀndÄ in information? Ja, men du kan avstÄ frÄn att anvÀnda deras tjÀnster. Du kan inte avstÄ frÄn att anvÀnda samhÀllet.

/u/161719 berÀttar om hans erfarenhet av massövervakning.

Censur

Censur Àr oftast dÄligt. Det börjar bra med nÄgot alla nog hÄller med borde censureras, men det blir snabbt en nerförsbacke. Till slut finns det inget som hindrar en nation frÄn att censurera information kors och tvÀrs.

Internetleverantörer i Storbritannien införde inte lÀnge sedan censur mot all pornografi pÄ nÀtet. Man kunde fortfarande komma Ät porr ifall man kontaktade sin internetleverantör och sa Ät dem att man ville titta pÄ porr. Vilken sorts databas hamnar man i dÄ?

Deras filter var helt automatiserat och censurerade alla sidor som nĂ€mnde svartlista ord som till exempel “sex”. Detta fungerade inte alls dĂ„ massvis med sidor blockerades felaktigt (till exempel sĂ„ skulle majoriteten av svenska sidor blockeras ifall de referera till siffran sex, till och med spel som League of Legends blockerade dĂ„ nĂ„gra av filnamnen rĂ„kade innehĂ„lla bokstavskombinationen sex).

Vissa internetleverantörer gick till och med sĂ„ lĂ„ngt att de implementerade filter som blockerade “olĂ€mpliga” nyhetstidningar och andra sidor.

Detta kanske inte Àr fullt sÄ aktuellt i Sverige i dagslÀget men det Àr definitivt aktuellt pÄ EU-nivÄ och risken finns fortfarande att Sverige ocksÄ kommer att gÄ ett liknande hÄll i framtiden.

 Straffavgift för lagringsmedia

Priset pÄ teknik och hÄrdvara Àr redan högt i Sverige. Copyswede hjÀlper till att göra det Ànnu dyrare. Privatkopieringsavgiften var en gÄng menad för att ersÀtta artister varje gÄng du kopierar ett kassettband. Det Àr urÄldrat och det Àr inte mÄnga som gör det lÀngre. NÀr du köpte en hÄrddisk senast, köpte du den enbart för att lagra musik pÄ? Bara för att möjligheten finns sÄ ska man inte behöva betala extra för det. Det hela Àr orimligt och till och med elektronikbranschen fÄtt nog.

NĂ€tneutralitet

NÀtneutralitet innebÀr att alla sidor pÄ och anvÀndare av internet ska behandlas lika av internetleverantörerna. Internetleverantörerna ska inte fÄ stÀnga ute konkurrenter av internetleverantörens tjÀnster. De ska heller inte fÄ göra sidor lÄngsammare. De ska heller inte fÄ göra om internet till samma modell tv-industrin anvÀnder. I USA vann internetleverantörerna nyligen rÀtten att fÄ bestÀmma vilka sidor deras anvÀndare ska kunna komma Ät och till vilken hastighet. I Sverige har vi inte detta problemet Ànnu (vad jag vet) men det Àr viktigt att förebygga att det inte hÀnder. Det har redan varit pÄ tal frÄn flera mobiloperatörer att blockera till exempel Skype, men Àn sÄ lÀnge vet jag inte ifall nÄgon faktiskt har en riktig blockering.

Summering

Det Àr viktigt att vi ser till att internet förblir en öppen plattform dÀr alla kan kÀnna sig sÀkra. Man ska inte behöva oroa sig över att bli övervakad konstant och man bör ha rÀtten till ett privatliv pÄ nÀtet dÀr staten inte lÀgger sig i. För att veta mera lÀs gÀrna Piratpartiets valmanifest inför EU-valet.

Jag vet att det Àr svÄrt att förstÄ hur man blir drabbad och du kanske inte kÀnner dig drabbad sjÀlv, sÀrskilt ifall du inte anvÀnder internet lika mycket som jag, men vi Àr mÄnga som blir drabbade av detta. Jag kommer göra allt jag kan för att övertyga andra om varför man bör rösta pÄ Piratpartiet och det hÀr blogginlÀgget Àr starten till det hela.