Becoming an e-Estonian

Estonia, one of Baltic countries becoming independent of the Soviet Union along with Latvia and Lithania in early 1990s, is one of IT conscious countries with significant numbers of IT-related startups including Skype. Estonian government is making its best efforts to make a "digital country" by inviting IT engineers to a number of offshore development sites in Europe's IT market. 

The government issues Estonian citizens an ID card, just similar to a Social Security Card in the United States, which enables holders to offer one-stop services including taxation, online banking, issuing medical prescriptions, and more. In addition to offering an ID card for real residents, it started the e-Residency scheme, which is available for not only residents within Estonia but people who don't really live in Estonia. In this scheme, an "e-Residency Card" is issued to the "e-Residents" of Estonia and similar services to those for real residents are offered "electronically" with the card via their computers.

e-Residency card

Application for an e-Residency Card is easy. First you have to visit the application page of the e-Estonia website at https://apply.e-estonia.com/. And then you can apply for the card by filling in necessary information in the form of the web page and paying €50.99 online by credit card. You can make the card to be sent to any Estonian Embassy outside Estonia so that you can pick it up at the nearest Embassy without flying to Estonia. About one month from the online application the card will be ready, when you will receive notification by email.

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Asterisk at home

I set up Asterisk 1.8 for my home phones in the old server once used to a file server. Registered an IP deskphone and IP softphone installed in my iPhone5 to the server, and successfully placed calls to each other, talked to each other, listened to voicemail while unregistered one party.
It was tough to set up outbound/inbound call configuration to/from the PSTN. I managed to do it and now I can talk to anybody with my IP phones!

iPhone5

I got iPhone5. I kept Sony Xperia Android phone, but iPhone is easier for me to use, with wider variety of accessories sold all over the world than Sony.
I haven’t got any Softbank’s nano SIM card, so I went to the nearest DoCoMo shop to get a DoCoMo nano SIM card for it, but they didn’t have any. I visited some other DoCoMo shops to ask for one, but none of them had it. Without a nano SIM card, it couldn’t be activated and it was just a small plate.
A DoCoMo shop in Tochigi-shi thankfully said they had a nano SIM card for iPhone5, although most DoCoMo shops in Tokyo said they didn’t have any. When I drove to the shop, there were dozens of people waiting in queue. A shop clerk said I should wait for one hour and a half to be served, but I actually waited 30 mins or so before being served. I managed to get one, put it in my iPhone I had bought before, and had it successfully activated.
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Scanning paper

I got a paper cutter and a document scanner so that I can digitise dozens of books I have in the bookshelf. I’m working all day to send them into the cloud.
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Off to Hong Kong

Gate 14
I’m going to Hong Kong tonight. I last visited there six years ago. I’ll be back to Japan on Sunday 6th.
Action items in Hong Kong: to get SIM-lock-free iPad2 and, if possible, iPhone4S at Mong Kok; registration of new address and passport number for my account of HSBC; and sightseeing at Stanley, Aberdeen and Lamma Island.

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Apples I’ve ever used

  • PowerBook 1400cs (Oct 1997 – )
  • Power Macintosh 6100 (Mar 1999 – )
  • iPod nano (Dec 2005 – )
  • MacBook Pro (Oct 2009 – )
  • iPhone 3GS (Mar 2010 – )
  • iPhone 4 (Dec 2010 – )

….thanks to Steve.

My current mobile devices

I bought Blackberry Curve 9300 in the middle of June for my main mobile phone I’m using on a daily basis, and switched an account from b-mobile into NTT DoCoMo again by the Mobile Number Portability service. The b-mobile SIM card was what I got together with an iPhone 4 Hong Kong version, but the iPhone 4 was not so good for telephone because its voice quality was not satisfactory and the manoeuvre was a little bit complicating. It’s just for web browsing, taking pictures and motion videos, playing games and other utilities, not for talking. I think the best device for voice calls is that of Nokia, but Nokia doesn’t sell any mobile phones in Japan any longer. Out of the phones available in Japan, Blackberry is for me. That’s why I’ve got Blackberry again.
Another reason why I chose Blackberry again is that it has a real QWERTY keyboard on the device, not displayed on the screen. You can type the keyboard to enter text, and doing this is much easier than touching the virtual keyboard on the screen. So I’m gonna use it for text messaging and email writing besides talking on it. Text messaging will be much more convenient because sending SMS to other carriers will be available next Wednesday.
Although iPhone is not so good for a telephone, it’s the best for a camera and a communicator with plenty of applications. I’ve got a Softbank SIM card too, so I still use iPhone4 used so far on a main basis with the Softbank SIM card inserted in it.
Now I’ve got three mobile phones carried with me —- Blackberry Curve 9300, iPhone 4 and a mobile phone my employer tells me to keep. Next I want to have some tablets like iPad or Galaxy Tab 😉

Japan’s mobile environment today

Sorry for not updating the blog for a long time. These days I’m hanging out in Facebook and Twitter, rather than writing blog entries. Please visit my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/masayuki.kawagishi or follow @_Yuki_K_ on Twitter 😉
I see that the world of mobile phones are rapidly changing for years. Nokia, one of the dominant mobile phone manufacturers, is disappearing and Apple is expanding the market with iPhone, its flagship mobile phones with a music player, games and other applications all-in-one. Following apple, various mobile phone manufacturers, from Samsung to small makers in China, are releasing smartphones with Android operating system developed by Google.
In Japan, I think that mobile phones are rapidly “globalised” for recent years. A few years ago all you could see here was the “Galapagos” handphones sold only within Japan and unavailable once you brought them out of Japan. But recently in the train or on the streets you see the same devices as those seen in the rest of the world — iPhones, Android smartphones and even Blackberry phones (very rare though).
More than that, this month I had a good news showing Japan’s globalisation of the mobile phone environment. A news says that from 13 July this year you can send text messages (SMS) to the mobile phones of the different carriers from yours. That is normal in the rest of the world, but that isn’t here in Japan — if you have a mobile phone sold by NTT DoCoMo, you can send SMS only to NTT DoCoMo users, not to au, Softbank or any other carrier’s users. As the SMS gateways are closed to different carriers, you can rarely see here such services as balance enquiry, network configurations, service registrations and purchasing something by sending text messages to service providers as you can see in Singapore, Hong Kong or some European countries. The opening the SMS gateways will probably enable you to have such services even in Japan in the near future.
Japan and the countries other than Japan don’t stand in opposite. Japan is an extension of other countries, and any country is an extension of Japan. It is essential that anything available in the world is available in Japan too.

I’ve got iPhone4!

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It’s a little bit late, though.
I had used Nokia N82 with Softbank Mobile’s SIM card as a main mobile phone so far. I had told my friends the phone number of it. But it had been kind of inconvenient because it had had narrower signal reception areas than the mobiles of NTT DoCoMo so if you had gone underground or deep into a big building you couldn’t have had it communicated. More than that, (it’s the situation peculiar to Japan, though) you can send SMS only to the mobiles of the same carrier as yours. Most of my friends had NTT DoCoMo mobile phones, so I’d wanted to change the carrier of my handphone into NTT DoCoMo.
NTT DoCoMo had released Samsung’s Galaxy S handphones in November and they had been very attracting for me, but they had been in so short supply in those days that I couldn’t have got any. I’d given up waiting for one.
At that time, Japan Communications had begun releasing b-mobile’s micro SIM cards together with unlocked iPhone4 imported from Hong Kong. JC had been selling the imported iPhone4 to its customers on hire purchase. JC was providing mobile phone service using NTT DoCoMo’s network, so if you had a mobile with b-mobile’s SIM card installed you could use it in almost the same manner as NTT DoCoMo, including sending and receiving SMS to and from NTT DoCoMo’s phones.
That’s why I purchased b-mobile’s micro SIM card called "b-micro talkingSIM" and iPhone4. Prior to the purchase I had cancelled the contract with Softbank Mobile and had the phone number used in it reassigned to the new micro SIM card so that I could use the same phone number as that I had told to my friends.
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The b-mobile SIM card was completely the same as NTT DoCoMo’s, but you had to set up b-mobile’s original APN, user name and password manually to the iPhone4 to have it activated. Besides, you could set up configuration of tethering, which only JC allowed its customers to use while NTT DoCoMo didn’t.
I cut the micro SIM card off the frame, put it on the micro SIM card tray of the iPhone4, inserted the tray into it, plugged it in my MacBook Pro where iTunes was operating, and turned its switch on.
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A couple of minutes later the iPhone4 was activated with no problems. Applications were downloaded from iTunes to it, and the sync of other data including contacts and email accounts was successful. Of course, SMS can be sent to friends with NTT DoCoMo mobile phones!
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A gadget: it’s Q-SIM Dual SIM Card, which allows a normal SIM card together with a micro SIM card to be installed in iPhone4, so that you can use two different SIM cards in one iPhone4. Two SIM card slots are connected with a thin link, one of which accepts a micro SIM card and the other a normal SIM. By sandwiching the micro SIM card plate of it with a micro SIM card and a micro SIM card tray, putting it into iPhone4’s micro SIM card slot and folding the rest of the link so that it reaches the back of iPhone4 which is put into a included case, you can use two different carriers in one iPhone4. Auto-switch between the two SIM cards is also available.