AF News

Monday, December 8, 2014

ETC Card



Ever wondered how you could use those ETC express lanes coming on/off the toll highways here on Okinawa, or all of Japan for that matter?? Well there is company that is catering to SOFA/Expats living here in Japan by allowing you to get your very own ETC card through them! Normally, non-Japanese nationals cannot get a ETC card, as you need a Japanese credit card/bank account to have one. Well this company just acts a an middle man and takes on all the "risks" of offering you a ETC. You can sign up in your name and with your credit card, and then breeze through those special ETC gates like all the locals, and your credit card gets charged the toll automatically! No more stopping and  rolling down my window  to pay, that is so what the "foreigners" do! Well no more! Well sort of, you still need to get the hardware for the ETC system (can be found everywhere) and have it installed in your car. If you are lucky, you might already have one installed in your car. I do and mine talks to me in Japanese when I start the car, and then when I get near a ETC gate, it starts talking automatically in a cautious voice; probably since I don't have a ETC card in the reader and it is warning me I don't have in there, so don't drive through the ETC gate dummy! Well, this company seems legit and I think it is relatively new, however I stopped short of signing up for one reason. After you get through the numerous signup pages (all online), you get to the kicker, and it is about the "risk" I mentioned earlier. They want a $400 dollar-ish deposit up front, in addition to what ever plan you go with. That is a little steep for me to get going on something I wouldn't use that often to be honest. If I was a frequent user of the toll highways or was on mainland Japan, I would do it, plus as a added bonus you can take advantage of those special ETC campaigns they have every once in awhile. Plus, some of their plans have contracts and I don't like contacts with stuff like this, as even having a contract for my cell phones bothers me. I wish they had just a straight up prepaid ETC option. Like, I will pay any setup fee, buy the actually ETC card, but just let me charge it up when I need to use it. I think on the Japanese side of the house they have something like that, but it is not offered through these guys. Either way, if your needs are different than mine, go ahead and check these guys out, just be sure to read the fine print.
 
 
 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Heavy MACH: Defense New Game Fix!

Heavy Mach Defense iOS
***Updated 04-Feb-16***

Here is my random post of the day!

Long story short, I love this basic iOS game called "Heavy MACH: Defense", however it hasn't been updated in a couple years. Needless to say, there has been two iOS updates since then and there is one glaring bug in the game now...you can't start a new game because the keyboard will not come up when it is time to enter text! This really only affects new downloads/users, as they can't even start a new game, but existing users should not have this issue (unless they try to start a new game again). Anywho, I put my mind to it and I found a way to get going again and it is rather simple (sort of)...

1. Go to this website...


There you will find the link to a saved game file for the this game, with instructions on where to put the file. You can do this with or without a jail broken device. You will have to use programs called DiskAid, iFunBox, etc., for non-jailbroken devices, or you can use the iFile app for jailbroken devices.

Here is the direct link to the saved game file for those advance users that know what to do with it already...I also have the file and I will keep it, just in case this link goes dead in the future too...


2.  You will need to unzip the file with WinZIP or something similar AND then you will have to unRAR it too! I have no idea why they did that, but I suggest you get WinRAR or something to do that, which is free. Just Google "RARsoft". This software can open zip files too. 

2a.  I also just have the save file here, here is the direct link. So you don't have to unzip anything...

MEGA - Mach Defense Saved Game


3.  Once you have the saved file, follow the instructions in step 1., specifically where to put it.  You will need the software mentioned on that site to make that move though. Additionally, the directory names for your iOS apps are just a bunch of random letters/numbers at some point, so it is not as straightforward to find the game folder as I thought. But I just opened each folder, until I found a directory with a folder named "MachDefense.app", but depending on how many apps you have on your iOS device; it may take awhile to find it. You then you just put the saved game in the "Documents" folder, and you are good to go. 

On my devices the location to place the saved file is here....

/var/mobile/containers/data/application/(random characters)/documents

This location for this save works on  iOS 8 and iOS 9 devices.

Finally, I want to note I didn't delete the game/reinstall anything like it mentions to do on that site. I just copied it over and the game loaded the save file just fine.

Well after doing all that, I have a functioning game now! Plus, you will have a crap load of money to spend on upgrades in the game too! Also, I am sure this process with work with "Heavy MACH: Battle", you just have to find a saved game for it somewhere... which I have tried to find, but I can't find one anywhere! So I would like anyone reading this with a saved game for Battle, to please share it with me and everyone else out there, so we can play the game again. Ideally, if you can make a new save/game (iOS 6), please share that, so it will be a fresh start for everyone else using it.

Finally, I apologize to the non-iOS power users reading this, as I just glossed over the finer details on making this happen. However, if enough people want a more detail write-up, I will give it a shot at a later date.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mysterious Okinawa Bioluminescent Bug!

OK, tonight I just saw a blue glowing bug about 2 feet from my patio in the grass! It looked like a small blue LED light glowing in and out, and moving slowly through the grass. After a beer in and enjoying a cig outside, I definitely thought I was seeing things, but it really was some kind of bug. Well I rush back in the house to grab my iPhone and my camera and by the time I cam back out I lost it. But I lightly brushed my foot across the grass where I saw it last, and low and behold it started glowing again! Of course it is dark out and both devices took crappy pics/vids, but I managed to get it blurry pic and video of it glowing. Then I had the bright idea to try and catch it and ran back inside to grab something to pick it up with...so I grab a key. So yea, so I turned on the flashlight on the iPhone so I could find (blind) it, and I manage to get it to craw on to the key after losing on and off in the grass blades, it was tiny, like a 1/4 inch long, but eventually it crawled on the key. So right when I thought I had it, it flew away! I had no idea it could fly, else I would of put my hand around it, but I really didn't want to crush/hurt the guy. So all I am left from this experience is blurry pics/vids and probably a story no one is going to believe. I did a Google search and I found nothing about a small blue glowing bug on Okinawa, just glowing mushrooms, sea life, and even glowing habu eyes! I sat outside for a few minutes to see if it landed somewhere close, but I didn't see it again. If it is a new species, I got dibs! Maybe the recent typhoon blew him from somewhere or maybe there is radiation in my grass...Well I will definitely keep an eye out for it again though, and maybe someone reading this can tell me, "Yea those are everywhere, common, nothing special!" or not...
 
Here are the pic/vid and it looked like it had a small white head and a black body, and of course wings! It really was small, like a 1/4 inch in length and 1/8 inch wide. and even though it is green in the pic/vid, it definitely glowed blue.
 


Okinawa Bioluminescent Bug
 
video


 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Everything you wanted to know about driving/owning a car here in Okinawa...

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief

Joint Service Vehicle Registration Office Orientation Brief
 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

KnCMiner Jupiter Tuning/Cooling

Ok, for those that have KnCMiner Jupiter's, I made a decent tuning guide recently. I have the November and October versions and you can find the info here...KnCMiner Jupiter Tuning/Cooling Guide. This is a picture of what NOT to do...read my page to see what I am getting at...

KnCMiner Jupiter October

KnCMiner Jupiter October


KnCMiner Jupiter October
Und! Did you ever wonder what the bottom of your beaglebone card of your October Jupiter looked like? Behold mortal!....



KnCMiner Jupiter October Beaglebone Card Bottom

KnCMiner Jupiter October Beaglebone Card Bottom

 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Info On Your GOJ Inspection/Road Tax Stickers

***UPDATE: You can also get more details on this topic at my other post here and here***

Disclaimer: If you got your finances in order, skip to paragraph 2 to begin reading about the stickers. All other cases, please pull up a chair to my soap box rant…=)
Now that we have been here a year already (man that went fast!), I had to fork some dough over on our cars’ annual insurance. It was about $536 for both…I will let that sink in for a minute….5…3…6…hundred dollars! Now, depending on your financial philosophy/outlook, that is either a great deal (about $46/month) or you are going to be struggling this month to make ends meet because you “forgot” about this annual requirement. Luckily I have money aside for these expenses, but I am sure others do not, especially our younger airmen/families living on a budget as it is. I have mentioned in prior posts about how expensive it is to drive out here, and that is why I stand on my soap box again to harp on this insurance cost to illustrate to everyone to save money for theses type of expense while you are out here in Okinawa. I have dealt with fellow Airmen getting their cars impounded over expired insurance/not current JCI/Road tax, and then they have to deal with those extra fees and headaches too, all without a car now! And for most when you got down to the root causes of the issue, it was because they couldn’t pay those “out of know where” expenses, and they were trying to ride it out to their “next pay check”. It would have been a non-issue if they saved a little every month, “knowing” they will have to pay insurance again a year later (surprise!). And don’t forget about saving for the annual road tax or biannual JCI too! Like I said it is expensive to drive out here, it just isn’t apparent after you buy your first “everything included in the loan” car out here, since 365/730 days later seems “so far away”. Ok soap box rant finished. So what does this have to do with stickers?! Continue on to the next paragraph.
As I renewed my insurance recently, I started wondering when my GOJ Inspection was due and what not. I wondered because I had to recently deal with one of my Airman getting their car impounded over an expired vehicle GOJ inspection/weight tax (I will explain what this is later) and the resulting confusion to what that is specifically. Well I did some digging on that issue and got clarification finally, but I also got some info on those stickers that are on every cars’ windshield here in Okinawa. I took pictures of the ones on one of my cars….


GOJ Inspection and Road Tax Sticker
Ok, so the large round shaped one is the Road Tax and this color is the current (2014) one. Next year the color will change of course. The smaller box shaped is your GOJ Inspection sticker. This one is telling me that my GOJ Inspection is up August of 2015. I know there is different yellow sticker/yellow plates (Mini Cars) floating around, but I only see them on the really tiny cars around here. Since I don't have one of those cars, I can't really say anything about them. Well Here is some info about the year references that they use here in Japan. It is based off the how long the current Japanese emperor's reign has been going on. The current Emperor Akihito has been in the seat since 1988ish, so just add the numbers to that, and you will get the year reference we are used too. So my JCI 8-27 = Aug 2015 and the Road Tax 26 = 2014. These should be the only stickers you should have on your windshield, however some of you may have one that looks like this too.


Garage/Dealer Service Sticker

Now this one (could be any color) is a garage/dealership sticker that serves no purpose for anything official. It is more of a gimmick to get you to come back to their shops for an "inspection" at the halfway point of your GOJ Inspection window. But I will admit that this sticker made me nervous at first because it is saying I have an "inspection" due next month! However, the Auto Hobby shop on Kadena gave me the low down on this sticker and it is safe to remove if you don't want it on your windshield. Just remember it serves NO official Japanese government purpose and it is just a gimmick used by the local garages/dealerships around here. I scrapped my off with a razor and used GooGone to clean off the residue that was left. The Auto Hobby shop went on to further state that you won't "pass" your GOJ inspection with it on your windshield anyways. I don't know how true that is, but my is gone regardless.

Well, that is about it on the stickers, but I want to go back to my story about my Airman getting his car impounded for an expired GOJ inspection/weight tax. This all started with this Airman getting in a very minor traffic accident and in the process of the police doing their thing, they found out he had the expired inspections mentioned above. Well he didn't actually know that at that time, nor did the MPs tell him exactly what it was either when they towed his car away either. It took some investigation on our part to figure out what was expired and how to fix it. Well, long story short, these GOJ inspections/weight tax stuff is "usually" done at the same time you do your JCI, but my Airman's case was different. He bought his car privately and for some reason his JCI and these other inspections were done at different times. There is no sticker that tells you when the JCI is due, but it is on the JCI paperwork. Also, the GOJ Inspection date should be on your car title. I scanned one of my car's title below...

Japanese Car Title

Now, I circled the relevant blocks and what you should look for. The green circle is the date you bought the car and what year your car is. So for example, 25-8-8 = 2013-Aug-08, is when I bought the car, and 15-9 = 2003-Sep is the year/month of my car. The orange circle is not relevant in this matter, so please disregard. But the red circle is where the GOJ inspection due date is. So take a moment to look at your title, and make your GOJ inspection isn't coming up soon or even past due! They do random paperwork checks at all the gates, and they will tow your car if anything is past due.

Well I managed to snag the printout on the whole GOJ inspection/Weight Tax thing from the JSVRO on Foster and it is below. It tells you how to get it all done, and guess what, it isn't cheap! Surprise Surprise! So now you know why you hear "JCI" time is so expensive, it because the Weight Tax can be up to $200, depending on how heavy your car is. I did some quick math on what it is going to cost me to "own" two cars here in Okinawa next year when I have to do JCI. It is going run me about $1100+ for JCI, Road Tax, GOJ Inspection, Weight Tax, Insurance, and I hope that is it! It actually comes out to about $92 a month, so that isn't bad at all, but that is if I start saving now of course! =)


GOJ inspection/Weight Tax Info

GOJ inspection/Weight Tax Info

Monday, July 7, 2014

Super Typhoon Neoguri!

Super Typhoon Neoguri - 7/7/14
Well, what a way to start the Typhoon season here at Okinawa, why not with a monster typhoon! This is the biggest we have dealt so far, so we have no frame of reference on how big this one will be. Luckily, the houses here are built like tanks and we have plenty of food and water. I just not looking forward to when the power will go out, since it will get hot quick! I have all our stuff secure and I just hope nothing goes flying around and hits our cars. I will post about the aftermath when we get there. Wish us luck!

[UPDATE 7/8/14 @ 0700]



Super Typhoon Neoguri - 7/8/14
Well, I was expecting chaos and destruction this morning, but it is pretty benign outside, as am I sure you can tell from the picture above. The power is still on and I still got the Internet too! Neoguri is lost it's "super" typhoon status as well I think, as it dropped down to a Cat 3 already this morning. There was some spats last night and this morning where it got a little rough and the rain came down, but those spats didn't last long. I can't speak for the rest  for island, but from where I am at now, this typhoon is... "blah". However, it will be another 12 hours or so where Neoguri will be closest to us, and I am sure we will get some weather then. More to come later...if we have power of course!

[UPDATE 7/13/14 @ 1600]



Ok, I have finally got around to checking out the pictures I took of the aftermath of the storm.  As I mentioned earlier, the storm was pretty much “blah”, but as the eye got closer to us, the wind and the rain definitely picked up.  This was the second typhoon we have went through here, and this one was noticeably stronger than what I remember from the last one. Luckily, there was no damage where I was on-base and the power flicker a couple times towards the end of the typhoon, so not too bad. Here is a picture of what it looked like towards the end of the typhoon, from the second floor of my home.

Super Typhoon Neoguri - Kadena
I think that evening the typhoon was supposed to wind down and we would be done with it the following morning. But that didn’t happen!  The next day, early in the wee hours, the typhoon had one last card up its sleeve. Rain, and a lot of it! It was this last parting gift that messed everything up on this island, as there was plenty of flash flooding, and cars/houses getting washed away. I am not sure if there was any deaths, but I would be surprised if there wasn't some on the island. Well, after the rain and wind finally subsided, I went out into to my yard to survey for any damage and to take pictures of anything. I can see Gate 3 and the surrounding area pretty good up from my vantage point and with my 48x zoom camera, took some rather interesting pictures of a new “river” that sprung up near the Camp Shields area and flowed towards the Munitions Gate on Kadena. 

Super Typhoon Neoguri - Kadena


Super Typhoon Neoguri - Kadena


Super Typhoon Neoguri - Kadena


Super Typhoon Neoguri - Kadena


Super Typhoon Neoguri - Kadena


Super Typhoon Neoguri - Kadena


Super Typhoon Neoguri - Kadena


Super Typhoon Neoguri - Kadena


Super Typhoon Neoguri - Kadena


All I can say is “wow” and I hope no one got hurt during that flash flood, because that is what it was. Actually, there were a couple a Security Forces Airmen trapped in their little shack because of the flash flood near the Munitions Gate, and if they didn't have quick thinking comrades, they would of most likely drowned! Well, that is how the story goes, as I haven't verified that as fact, but plenty of the Kadena’s big wigs are talking about it. 

Well, that is about it on this typhoon, and for us personally, it wasn't bad at all. However, there are still people on-base without A/C, power, and even had some flooding in their homes, so I count ourselves lucky. I am sure there will be other typhoons in our future, so we will see how our "luck" plays out in those.

P.S. Get typhoon insurance and/or renters insurance!!!! It is not expensive, and you will have all your stuff covered if the worst happens to you in the beginning, during, and end of a typhoon. Trust me, I know of a couple of military families that suffered some bad typhoon damage and have lost quite a bit of their stuff in the process. Might a well get earthquake coverage too, as there are plenty of those out here too...

[Update 18 July 2014]


Here is the link to the story about those SF airmen caught in their guard shack. It is a pretty dramatic read and luckily they made it out of there alive.


First responders save trapped defenders during Typhoon Neoguri









Thursday, May 22, 2014

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium / 오키나와 츄라 우미 수족관

If you wanted a great place to kill a whole day, then the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is the place to go. It is located up in the northern area of the island and you can take the express all the way until it ends at the 58, however it will still take about an hour to get up there, depending on the traffic. I have a Google map link that will take you to the parking area number 7, which is the closest covered parking area to the actual aquarium, and it is free to park! It is also free to roam around the park grounds and to see the dolphin show, but you just have to pay to get in the aquarium. There is plenty to see and if you have kids, they should be exhausted by the time you leave. The place is stroller friendly and I highly recommend you bring one to cart kids and stuff around. Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen, since most of the park is out in the open. I have the English and Korean park guides here for reference, which has all the fees, show details, and maps. One more thing, you can save a few bucks by buy the tickets at places like Family Mart. Just look at the signs at the stores you frequent, chances are you will see a picture of the aquarium, which will most likely mean they sell the discounted tickets there. It is pretty common, so just look around or ask someone. Enjoy!

Google Map Link: http://goo.gl/maps/pBi6p



Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium 
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

오키나와 츄라 우미 수족관
오키나와 츄라 우미 수족관
오키나와 츄라 우미 수족관

오키나와 츄라 우미 수족관

오키나와 츄라 우미 수족관