Thursday, January 13, 2011

Off the grid for one month

A few site announcements here. First, it may be a bit quiet for the next month because I will be out of Japan and completely off the grid except for a satellite uplink (that won't be used for blogging). When I get back, I'll try to respond to any email, but it may take me a while. I am also temporarily turning on comment moderation.

And please welcome Nicholas as a contributor to SBS. For now he'll be approving comments while I'm away, but he certainly has a lot to contribute regarding linux and android, so I am looking forward to his future posts.


  1. Will you be on a ship or in the moutains? :-)

  2. I'll try and serve you all well :) Also if there is anything in particular you guys and gals would like to hear about let me know. I am thinking about different things to post about.

  3. m(_ _)m

    hint hint google voice and openvpn server config hint hint ;)

  4. Yup on my list :)

  5. How about writing a bit about proxies, tunneling, and whether it is possible to mask what kind of data you are using to avoid targeted throttling and/or repercussions from carriers for using supposedly blocked services?

  6. That's going to be the OpenVPN post I was mentioning below. There is already an android client and it is built in to CM6. Really it won't be an issue at all to setup the VPN server on a machine, but you want to be sure to do it right.

    The biggest issue will be what to run it on. Nicholas had mentioned thisas a potential server, which would be great for a VPN. With today's rate, you're talking about just over 8000 yen. Imagine setting one up back in the US to get a US ip address for all sorts of stuff like google voice, hulu, pandora, last fm streaming - you name it. (hulu would be a problem for most residential broadband with a relatively slow uplink, though).

  7. I have a friend who is on au and was wondering if she'd be able to use her Japanese phone with any US carrier. I'll take a quick answer or a blog post :)

  8. It depends on the phone and what US carrier. If it has 3G you can probably use it but depending on the carrier frequencies you may only get an Edge connection. Also I think you may have a hard time getting Verizon to give you a Sim card since they mostly don't use them except in their world phones.

    But most importantly you will need to get the phone "SIM unlocked" this involves typing in a code derived from your IMEI number. These can be gotten from a website that specializes in unlocking phones for a fee, the carrier if you can convince them to give it to you (I have never tried with a Japanese carrier), or hacking the phone if it is possible with that model (this option can be a bit dangerous if you do it wrong you can brick your phone).

    Keep in mind also that you get a limited amount of tries to enter the code correctly so be careful when entering it in after a certain number of attempts the phone will brick itself. If you don't mind paying around 2,000円 then I would find a site that specializes in doing it and lists your model.

    Sometime later this year all of the carriers in Japan are supposed to start selling phones that are Sim Unlocked but this isn't the case yet.

  9. an AU phone is a paperweight without an AU contract.

    Not going to work with au because it is CDMA-2000. EDGE is GSM. In theory, the only compatible carriers would be sprint or verizon but in reality, the phone won't register on their network. CDMA phones don't use SIM cards. They are are hard coded to register to a particular network.

    This is why KDDI was against SIM unlocking, because they are left out being the only CDMA-2000 carriers.

    AU phones do have an "IC card" that is exactly like a SIM and serves some of the same functions, but you can't take one out of an AU phone and use it in another AU phone.


    That will give you an idea of what you'll be up against. I didn't realize that the US carriers don't even use the IC cards.


    "All AU by KDDI cellphones cannot be used worldwide as they are CDMA only (incompatible with Verizon). The W62S (GLOBAL PASSPORT GSM) has been reported that it can be unlocked, however, there has been no confirmations. The W64S (also GLOBAL PASSPORT GSM) has been software unlocked. SMS and internet does not work."

  12. Oh, wow. I kind of suspected it would be either a long and tortuous road/impossible. My friend isn't one to delve beyond the options screen of her phone so I'll let her know that basically she is out of luck. Thanks both of you for all your help.

  13. Ah, it's called in r-uim.
    I really don't know much about CDMA. That wiki article is wrong regarding switching cards, though. KDDI came out and said that AU phones won't accept another UIM card from another AU phone.

  14. I'm looking for any updates on the bmobile sim (data only):

    I live in the US and will be traveling to Japan in March. I am hoping to bring
    my rooted Nexus One (running CM6.1) with me, and was tempted to order
    the bmobile sim (data only).

    I was wondering if there have been any new reports on how well this
    solution works these days. The comments about it on your blog are
    somewhat dated now. Specifically, here are a few questions:

    1. I understand that the data-only bmobile sim can be ordered by
    anyone, including foreign visitors (like me). Further, I understand
    that the talking version of the bmobile sim requires Japanese ID
    (which I don't have). Can you confirm?

    2. I've heard you can just have the bmobile data-only sim shipped and
    waiting for you at your hotel. Is this true? Any first-hand

    3. Are bmobile data-only sim users over-all happy with their experiences?

    4. I understand that you had problems using skype (poor voice
    performance). Are there any reports of people using SIP clients to
    make voice calls?

    5. How aggressively is bmobile sim cutting off or reducing bandwidth
    to streaming apps, like a SIP client or a video?

    Most hotels that I visit in Japan have good enough internet to allow
    high-quality video conference (e.g. skype) back home, so I think I am
    mostly looking for a solution for walking around.

  15. Thanks so much! What is the current situation with portable mifi devices, specifically those that can be rented by non-residents?