Prepaid Data SIM Cards

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to get prepaid SIM cards in Japan on a tourist visa. They are quite hard to find and there’s little information available in English, which is why I thought I’d write this post. Having data on the go is indispensable if you plan to take a smartphone and laptop with you on your trip. There is very little free public Wi-Fi in Japan and the ability to check your e-mail, find your location and map out train routes with Google Maps, and book hotels on the move is a huge advantage.

I bought a 6-month prepaid u300 b-mobile data SIM for 14,900 yen. I’ve since recharged it online for a further 6 month period for the same price. There are no additional usage fees to pay. B-Mobile uses NTT Docomo’s network which has possibly the best coverage in Japan.

I use this SIM in my Australian unlocked iPhone 3GS to access the net on the move. I use a USB cable to tether with my laptop and use this connection when I’m working away from my desk. Uploads and downloads are unlimited but are speed-restricted to 300kbps. That’s fine for e-mail, maps and basic web. It’s not fast enough for Skype (even audio-only) or web video. If you want faster access you can buy the b-mobile 1GB定額 which gives you 1GB of data without a speed limit.

In Nagoya you can buy b-mobile SIMs at Bic Camera (just outside Nagoya Station) or at some of the many small electrical retailers around Osu-Kanon’s Akamon Street. The SIM card I bought required activation by making a simple phone call from a separate Japanese mobile (which you can ask a friend to do for you). However, I’ve noticed that they’ve just released a new product for travellers that doesn’t require activation and they’ve finally put up some information about it in English.

package
B-mobile SIM Package. This is the 6-month prepaid version.
b-Mobile SIM
The actual SIM card.
b-mobile speedtest
Speed is limited to 300kbps. Here’s my speedtest.net result from my tethered laptop.

Cash Prize!!

On my cycle this morning I spotted what I can only assume is a Google streetview car. Here is a photo of it:

Streetview Car
Streetview Car, or mobile 70s disco? We may never know.

My father-in-law is on streetview. He’s standing in his driveway fixing a pump. I kinda like the fact that he is on the internet while he doesn’t even know what the internet is.

Anyway, to liven things up a bit around here I’m offering a cash prize to the first person who can find me on streetview. Good luck! And beware of the ravages of carpel tunnel.

The Relationship Between Hubris and Sloth in PHP

WordPress has kindly informed me that I’ve reached 50 moderately absurd posts. I will now set a public target of 100 posts this year – just so that I can miss it and be publicly humiliated. 🙂

As I recently commented to a friend, I only post in accordance with the following programatic statement:

// PHP Blog Posting if/else statement.
if (Hubris > Sloth) {
    Write New Blog Post ;
}else{
    Drink beer;
}

Microsoft Hates Microsoft

Today I fired up Internet Explorer 6 on XP to test how it renders one of my sites. Before even getting that far I discovered that Microsoft has suicidal tendencies – a fact clearly evident by the following issues:

Issue 1: The homepage of IE6 defaulted to nineMSN, a Microsoft site that promptly causes Microsoft’s own ancient browser to crash.

Issue 2: The Download Center on microsoft.com (you know, where you go to upgrade the browser) isn’t compatible with IE6.

microsoft-ie6
Check out all those PNGs with transparent alpha channels - exactly the type that IE6 can't render.

If even Microsoft doesn’t care about IE6, why should I?