Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Japan. Land of tech I’ve never visited..

Monday, November 9th, 2015

I was asked what place would I ever live that I’ve never visited and immediately what came to mind was Japan. This is not recent feeling either. It’s been there since I was 13. I’ll tell you why.

When I was a kid and getting into tech there were certain things I wanted a lot of. Knowledge and games. Back in the early 80’s before the internet I would get numbers to what were called bulletin boards. It was the equivalent of dialing up a website and just staying there for a while to get what you wanted or learn about interesting stuff. Well, thus came the part of me that was a little bit nefarious. I found through these portals that if you know what to look for and how to look you could find video games that you could download. This opened up a whole new world because it merged the two things I liked. Learning how to do something and getting paid off with a video game. Sometimes one that might not even be available in the United States yet.

Therein lies the crux of my position. The games were sometimes coming out of Japan. Thus coming out of Japan they were in Japanese.  I actually loved this too because my brother and I already had a fascination with Japan. We watched Japanamation cartoons and would turn to Japanese stations and watched for hours only understanding a rare few words that were said.

Fortunately for us we had an uncle that lived in northern California that married a Japanese wife. To our delight they visited and stayed at our house for 3 days and my aunt’s sister came with her visiting Los Angeles straight from Japan. I was about 12 and couldn’t stop being around these ladies. She knew a couple American shows and the extent of her English seemed to Happy Days but it was awesome.

When they left I took it upon myself to find on a bulletin board how to learn Japanese. I later on bought a book on the language and learned how to read the Kanji/Kana character set which really helped me a lot to read the menus on the games. This turned out to be useful as I relearned it when I was 24 and happened to take a temp job at a company that was headquartered in Japan. Once an issue came up with the Japanese version of Microsoft Windows that a certain floor or bilingual workers was using. I jumped up to save the day. To their amazement the young black guy fixed it in Japanese. Made me a star among all the people on that floor that passed me from then on and waved and said hi even if they couldn’t speak English.

My fascination with the country has spanned many decades and I really need to make it a priority to visit for a while. I’ve kept up with a lot of things Japan just because of all of this. I may stick out like a sore thumb because of my skin color difference but sticking out has never stopped me before.

My first love. My guitar.

Monday, November 9th, 2015

I’d decided to do this writing challenge to see how  I could get myself in the groove of writing and it gave me some subjects to talk about. The problem is that one of the subjects was my first love/kiss. I realized that a lot of these things didn’t relate to tech like I thought I could probably make them but that turns out not to be true. You see my first love was my guitar. I left my guitar for a computer.

When I was in 3rd grade I witnessed one of the most beautiful sights that changed my life forever. A girl at my elementary school was sitting on a step and playing a guitar. I was in complete and utter awe at the sight of this. Music just flowed from her hands and it filled my ears and went to my heart. I was captivated. My first thought was one that leads me through life to this day. How can I create this feeling for myself like she gave me. Thus led me on a journey that I am on to this day. Scratching my own itch.

A little background. My mom’s family was heavy into music. My great grandmother had an idea that really held a lot of weight. She felt like no matter what happened in the world all of her family had to know how to do two things because they’d never stop being ways to make money: Typing and playing an instrument. Thus my grandmother, mother and aunt played piano and thus led my brother sister and I to have to take piano lessons as well. Then one fine day I walk in and say I want to take guitar lessons instead of piano. It was still an instrument after all.

After reading how many hours the great players put into learning their instrument I had to get myself closer and closer to them. The greatest players at the time were Spanish sex symbol Charro followed by rockstar Eddie Van Halen. Turned out that they practiced almost 8 hours a day. I felt I wanted to be amoungst the best so I would set out on a course of getting closer and closer to that amount of time. I loved that guitar like no other thing on earth. I bought sheet music from music stores so I could play all the famous rock songs. My teacher was a backup guitarist for the legendary rock group Journey so I felt I was in even better hands. I practiced classical guitar, spanish guitar, rock and gospel till my hands were tired but they never seemed to tire. 3 years of scholarships and playing at various concerts and churches proved I was on the right path.

Many years later Toni Braxton would sing a song called Spanish Guitar in which she would wish that this man would hold her like he held his Spanish guitar. My Spanish guitar could have equal envy for a woman because my reverence for it and caressing of the strings brought me the signs of success that I coveted. Calluses. The sign of every true guitarist.

Our love song wouldn’t last forever though and I have to take the blame when I was 14. Great guitarists could play by ear from just hearing music they could create their own. This took the boring task of learning my scales. Daily going through these scales took long hand training. At the same time I had a mistress in the wings that started to consume more and more of my time. It was computers. I’d been programming since I was 10 but the challenge became more and more pleasing. My awe for Charo was slowly replaced with Bill Gates.

When I entered high school my first love picked up permanent residence under the piano at my house only to be thought of in passing from time to time but it will always be my first love.

My daughter Keila Banks talking in in San Jose

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Next internet superstar.



I thought a quick post was in order. As you might have seen from a previous post my daughter Keila has been speaking at a couple of conferences about being an 11yr old web designer and general computer guru. Here’s the video from the USENIX Women in Advanced (WiAC) computing conference held in San Jose last week June 26th 2013.

My daughter the computer guru

Friday, March 1st, 2013

This past weekend at the SCALE conference I had the pleasure of introducing my 11 yr old daughter Keila Banks as a speaker. In her “Free to be a kid” talk she gave a story of how an 11 year old can use open source software and be a website designer, publisher, programmer and graphic artist using software such as Linux, GIMP and PHP. Well, enough said. Why don’t you check it out for yourself. Feel free to share it to the world!

Marshmallow Game Engine (Day 15 of 20 days of SCALE)

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

The Marshmallow Game Engine is “an open-source game engine focused on 8-bit and 16-bit era 2D video games. This engine will act as the backbone and toolkit for the Marshmallow Entertainment System” ( When I’d first heard of having to review the Marshmallow Game Engine I was assuming there would be something for me to download, so I wandered the site about but came up empty. It’s not like the UI for the site was complicated but I’m known to get lost so if the download link does exist for users to experiment with that’s great, otherwise no problem.

Regardless of that after learning about it I was interested. A quick look at the creators Youtube channel shows the game engine in action. The game works smooth, boots quickly and for those of us who like the nostalgic 8-bit/16-bit consoles it’s something worth looking into.

Guest Post by Hunter Banks

Riot Games (Day 14 of 20 days of SCALE)

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

I’ve never reviewed any subject in any somewhat official manner but for Scale 11x this year I’ll be discussing Riot Games and Marshmallow Game Engine.
First on the agenda is Riot Games, a company I’d become familiar with last time around at Scale 10x. Riot Games is the creator of widely popular MMORPG known as League of Legends. The team responsible for the game that we met at the Scale tour seemed very enthusiastic about their work, some maybe a bit too enthusiastic. One of the presenters was so engulfed in playing the game for two different tours he could barely look away from his screen to demonstrate. Depending on your outlook that could be interpretted as great marketing for a game so amazing and fun you forget your actual duties to play it or as fairly bad press from an unfocused worker. The rest of the presenters for the company were nice and very willing to answer questions about their company so being an optimist I’d say good marketing. (

Guest Post by Hunter Banks

Vuze crashes

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

If you are a user of Vuze (formerly Azureus even though it’s been long enough to stop saying that) then you may be encountering the same problem that I’ve been encountering. Vuze (on all platforms) crashes or freezes when you add a torrent.

The fix is as follows. Go to:  Tools -> Options -> Connection

Under Connection uncheck the box that says “Prompt for selection when a tracker with an anonymous  tracker is added”.

DONE. That was easy. Vuze has already acknowledged this problem and issued a patch but this will work for now.

Blogging to help your marraige and family

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

We are at a rare crossroads in history that can be manipulated for good family relations. I say this because I’ve recently thought about how my family structure works. My wife is a special education teacher to elementary school children. Today I was looking through her blog like I usually do and thought about something. I comment on her blog and to her in real life. It’s like having twice the amount of conversations with your spouse (since we do talk a lot in person). I definitely recommend that husbands always talk to their wives and vice versa but if your spouse blogs then take an interest even if it’s not in your usual line of interest. I know that my wife also tends to read my blog even though I know that she’s not a techno-savvy person.

All my children started off early using computers too. All 4 of my children started with basic screen drawing at 3 years old. They all wanted to be like me and later on their mother or brothers. In true form my daughter has loved watching my blog-aholic wife type on her blog so much that my wife started her a blog. SHE’S 6! Yes, my wife does all the typing but my daughter tells her what she wants and it’s good family time with them.

My 3 sons aren’t so voyeristic. They aren’t the types to blog (even though it comes with a Myspace page). However, with your teens get to the point that you can be added to their friends list on Myspace. I do that with my sons and all the children at my church as well as neighborhood kids. This way you can watch what their doing a little bit too.

I’ll be sitting down for a minute

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

I had a freak accident and broke my leg. Guess I’ll be sitting down and doing more typing. Hope you’re out there and in for some very informative stuff.

Content overload

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

I don’t know if you’re like me but I’m totally overloaded with content.  There’s no one else to blame but myself but I love it. Long gone are the days when I turned on my TV and all 800 channels of Satellite had nothing interesting to watch. Long gone are the days when I’d get into my car and say, “Man I hate everything on the radio (except when I drive my wife’s car)”. I’ve got to say I’m loving the internet a LOT.

Even though it’s been a while that I’ve been doing this I just stopped to smell the roses about content today.  I have a computer connected to my TV so whenever I get tired of whatever I’m watching and the wife is bored I change to the computer’s channel and watch internet/podcast videos and movies.  In my office I have the same setup plus a Tivo so I can catch up on a basketball, football, documentaries, and podcasts whenever the mood strikes. If for any reason I want to work and not watch TV I have all my CD’s converted to our server plus podcasts to listen to. In the car I have a radio with a USB jack for playing from USB stick which I just dump podcasts and music on before I drive.

Look how far we’ve come as a society. I never watch a re-run unless I just want to sit with the wife and kids and watch something again. I’ve got too much content and I love it that way. Who really cares about the writer’s strike when there’s so much good content to watch and listen to.

Who needs the TV and radio networks. I like the internet.