New MacBook Pro arrived!

Thanks to Hibikinokai, and especially Walter, my new MacBook Pro arrived today! That more than a week ahead of the promised delivery schedule.

Here are some photos from unpacking and setting up the new MacBook Pro. And some first impression comments. Everything is really great!

First some photos showing the unpacking and basic set up. Everything is so quick. Just a couple of minutes and everything is all working.

First the box it was delivered in. Okay, some of these photos will be boring for many of you, but I like taking photos. And there are people out there who like unpacking photos.


The MacBook Pro box itself. And a view of what’s inside.




And a few photos of the initial set up and showing off the specs and my start up screen. It’s amazingly fast!








And here are some first impressions:

1. The keyboard is extremely nice. I like it better than the Bluetooth keyboard I have for my iMac right now. Some of the Hibikinokai people commented how they like the illuminated keys on the keyboard. I agree it has a very nice effect.

2. The keychain synced via iCloud with my iMac so I could immediately use FaceTime and messages without further set up.

3. No dead pixels! As some of you know, I get really paranoid about new Apple notebook computers. If I find even one dead pixel it gnaws at me and I call Apple and complain until they exchange it for a perfect screen. Well I’m happy to report that I went through thorough pixel tests in white, black, red, blue and green and all the pixels seem 100% perfect. Yay!

4. The speaker seems quite nice. I played some music, and it sounded very beautiful to me. I know some reviews of the MacBook Pro criticize the speaker quality, but it sounds as good or better than any of the speakers I currently have. I was quite pleased with that.

5. The retina display is very beautiful of course. I don’t need to have it turned up anywhere near the maximum brightness. There is a very good illumination range.

6. Because of the SSD drive, start up is very quick. Also it makes no noise at all. And it’s very light. Some Hibikinokai members wanted even lighter versions, but I don’t see how anybody can complain about this weight. I’m glad I went for the 13 inch pro model. I can see this even replacing my iMac with an external monitor!

I will write more later. And I have some technical questions I want to research myself, such as best practices for battery maintenance. But anyway, I love it so far! Thanks, Walter!

I look forward to our first computer lesson for the teachers there next Sunday!

Hibikinokai Christmas Party 2013

Last year I had the pleasure of attending the Hibikinokai Christmas party in Hachioji. Hibikinokai is a non-profit organization for handicapped people in the area who are interested in studying English conversation and how to use computers. It was founded by my friend, Walter Spillum, many years ago, and has scores of members who participate in their weekly classes and seminars.

This year they allowed me to take part more actively,  and I got to lead the attendees in “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and filled in for Walt’s brother Jack in calling the Bingo numbers, because he was unfortunately unable to attend. My friend Dave Fisher was also unable to attend this year because he is laid up in the hospital having his knees looked at. But both will be in attendance next year.

A certain portion of the group are blind, so I got some braille copies printed up, and for everybody else bilingual English and Japanese lyrics. I think the Japanese was ok. Things might have gotten a bit iffy around “Ten lords a’leaping” (especially when I tried to demonstrate) but people joined in and seemed to have fun with it.

Here are some photos and videos from the event. I didn’t get a photo of the amazing magic performance by Hiroshi Takagi (I want to know how he did that trick with the wine in the cups!), and I don’t know if anybody recorded me at all, but here are a few highlights.

The party was on the 10th floor the Create Hall community center near Hachioji Station, where the Hibikinokai meets every Sunday. It was a beautiful, brilliantly clear day, and you could see Mt. Fuji covered in snow from the windows.

2.MtFujiWalt and others signed people in at the reception desk in the elevator lobby.

3.Reception 4.Reception-2

Of course Santa Claus was on hand.


Here is part of the group  of attendees.


This is a panorama of the whole group. Tatsui-san, who is head of the Hibikinokai is in the middle directing the arrangements. If you click this picture you can see the original – which is much larger.


Walt gave a very moving welcome speech. Below the photo is a video of the speech. It’s worth listening to.


The Eight Princes Toastmasters President Aki Kaneko gave us another great welcoming speech.



Hemmi Yasuyo returned again this year with sentimental jazz and Christmas songs. Below the photo is a video of her performance of “Memories.” And if you missed it last year, you have to watch her performance of that Christmas Classic “Bei Mir Bistu Shein.” This panorama is also linked to the large original – click on the photo to see.


After the party, a group of us had a second party (it’s a Japanese tradition) at a cafe near Hachioji Station.

12.AfterParty-1 13.AfterParty-2

And when it was all done we headed home. Here are 4 of us on the train together, getting off at different stops. From left to right, Masae Kashiwagi, me, Saya Suzuki and Koji.


I hope I get to meet everybody again soon! I could not have had a better time, or met a nicer group of people. I feel I made some good new friends. The entire day felt warm and good all around. Thank you, everybody!