Archive for January, 2006

Jan
24

Starting to like my new job

Posted by on Tuesday, 24 January, 2006

Well, after a month of not doing especially much at my new job, part OTJ, part everyone-is-too-busy-to-give-me-work, January has been a huge improvement. Slowly I have been handed over some of my main responsibilities, and slowly I have been getting into the new job and the new company.

It hit me today, wandering through the office, that I finally am starting to like it here. It’s always tough in the beginning at a new job, and you think “why did I come here?”, “I don’t know anything, how can I be of use?”, “boy, this company is different from my previous workplaces” etc. But recently, the place has been bustling with activity, a sort of activity I have never ever seen at any of my previous jobs. There are people having meetings, talking, running around, customers coming and going, consultants en masse brought in, and tons of people from corporate HQ. It just gives the air around here a certain feel of energy and excitement. It makes me want to work, even though some of the individual tasks I do are not that exciting, you get a feeling that you are part of something huge, something that is moving forward, quickly, and that so great.

Jan
21

New cell phones from au

Posted by on Saturday, 21 January, 2006

Japanese cell phone operator au (KDDI) presented their “Spring Lineup” of new phones yesterday, and there are a few quite interesting models! The link goes to the au page presenting the seven new models – it’s in Japanese, but there’s some amazing Flash work done, and you can at least check out the pictures.

The phones released are:

W41SA from Sanyo, W41S from Sony-Ericsson, W41T from Toshiba, W41CA from Casio, W41K from Kyocera, W41H from Hitachi, and Neon. Neon is a quite interesting looking phone, designed by Naoto Fukasawa who is a designer from the Japanese design company PlusMinusZero.

New Sony Ericsson phone W41S

Being Swedish, I am of course interested in the newest S-E model, W41S, which looks darn nice, and has some good specs too. You can check the details of W41S here (in Japanese though). In short, it weighs 119g, has 250 hours standby, 240×320 TFT screen (24bit color), 40 MB memory (can be expanded via Memory Stick Duo to 2 GB), 1.3 Mpixel camera, stereo virtual surround speakers, support for mobile SUICA (use the cell phone to pay your train fare), can display non-mobile webpages, and has a wide range of functionality when it comes to downloading/transferring music back and forth between the phone and your pc.

Jan
20

Don’t break the Trademark Law in Iran!

Posted by on Friday, 20 January, 2006

(I know Trademark Law is not Copyright Law, but it’s the closest tag I have….)

I just found this on our company’s brand portal and I thought it was hiliarious. It’s taken from a list of Asian countries detailing how their respective Trademark Laws work:

Iran

Law on Trade Marks, 1931

There are unfair competition provisions. The Islamic Penal Code provides for lashing and imprisonment.

Wow! Talk about a tough stance against trademark infringers!!!

Jan
19

Frustrations in Japan Part 1 – Immigration Office

Posted by on Thursday, 19 January, 2006

Frustrated!?

Coming to Japan for the first time can be a very strange and frustrating experience in many cases. Further, if you start living here you will find more things that definately will surprise and upset you. That is why I intend to present to you a series of posts describing things that probably will frustrate you upon coming here, or starting to living here long term for the first time. For some of the things I can offer workarounds and tips on how to ease through without frustration, but in many cases you just have to accept the circumstances and have patience! (The inspiration for writing this post came from a thread over at the Outpost Nine forums regarding Japanese vs. American customer service.)

The Immigration Office

Don't give up!

If you’re going to stay in Japan for more than three months, you will encounter the dreaded Immigration Office. This is where all visa and residence status issues are handled, and you will probably have to go here at least once a year if you’re staying in Japan for a longer time. If you’re leaving Japan temporary for a trip (vacation for example), you have to go here to get a “Re-Entry Permit” (i.e. permission to re-enter the country without nullifying your VISA) and that is probably the most common reason for people having to go here.

First of all, if you have never been to the Immigration Office, if you can, go scout the place out first! It is located a ten minute bus ride from Shinagawa station. (Here is some information in English.) The first floor has an information desk (they speak English; probably the only people in the whole building who do, which is strange seeing as these people cater only to foreigners!) where you can ask questions on how to proceed with your specific case, collect forms, and get some quick counselling. There is also a convenience store here, in which you can buy food, drinks, or snacks to keep you happy during your wait (and you WILL have to wait). The second floor contains the actual immigration counters, and they are divided into sections depending on case type: re-entry permits, work visas, permanent residence, etc. As I said, if you can, go ahead of time to scout out the place – find the desk you need to go to, get the proper paper work, fill in as much as you can ahead of time, and most importantly: buy the necessary tax stamp at the convenience store on the first floor BEFORE you line up for your case on the second floor! Yes, all tasks will cost you money, and due to some unknown reason (maybe it’s a hassle for them to handle money elsewhere than the store) they will not accept payment at the actual immigration counter, but you have to purchase a stamp at the convenience store and affix it to a certain immigration form. Whatever you do, don’t forget this! I have seen many newcomers line up, wait for 30 minutes, only to find out they have to go down and buy a stamp, and get back in line (from the beginning!). Also, don’t forget that they do stop their services at noon for an hour lunch break!

Now, if you have prepared well by getting the forms, scouting out which desk you should head to, and bought the stamp (or you can buy the stamp while you wait for your turn) then it’s time to do your business! Arrive early in the morning, about ten minutes before they open! (Whatever you do, never, ever go on a Friday afternoon, it will be packed!) When they open the doors, walk briskly (or what the heck, RUN) to the counter in question, and get a queue number. In some cases you can just go up to the counter and get a number yourself, but in some cases you have to first line up to get a queue number from one of the staff! If you were fast, then you will only have to wait a few minutes, but if you were slow, you will wind up having to wait for 30 minutes or more. If you arrive later, you may have to wait over an hour for service! The work visa department is probably the worst one, so be prepared! I believe the Immigration Office in Tokyo is probably worse than average, because the one in Kobe (the only other one I have had experience with) was not too bad or crowded.

As I stated earlier, the staff at the Immigration Office are not very good at English, so if you have questions to ask regarding your case, be sure to brush up no your Japanese, or bring a Japanese acquaintance! The staff at the counters are not unfriendly in any way, but they are under a lot of stress due to the extreme amount of cases they have to process quickly, so they can be perceived as not very helpful. You have to deal with that! Don’t get upset at the staff at the counter if you feel frustrated about filling out a certain form you had forgotten, or having to go to the convenience store to buy a revenue stamp – it’s not their fault! Also note that getting a re-entry permit, or simply moving your visa from one passport to another is not an ordeal at all, especially the re-entry thing, since there is a special section for that which often is very quick and smooth.

Jan
17

AIC changes name to…what?

Posted by on Tuesday, 17 January, 2006

One of the biggest consumer loan companies in Japan, AIC (pronounced ‘aiku’) which is partially owned by Citibank, recently changed its name to DICF. Oh well you say, what’s so interesting about that? Well, DICF is pronounced ‘dikku’ – which would be the japanese pronunciation of dick as well.

Great naming there, Citibank!

Aki Higashihara

I almost choked on my coffee when I saw the TV ad featuring well known model Aki Higashihara exclaiming:

– Aiku is now called Dikku!