A trip to Japan

I typed this up for a friend.
A couple of things about a trip to Japan:
a. Japan Railway Pass
In the past I bought this twice and I used JTB USA (New York Branch)
You need to buy this before your travel to Japan (You can't buy when you get there).  When you arrive and go to the JR station (Japan Railway station) they will stamp your pass.  I don't buy this anymore lately just because my hometown now has a local airport and I just fly directly to that without taking the train.
b. Yen - Dollar exchange
I usually buy yen from a local Japanese resident in DC area by going to the local website.
I usually say I need Japanese yen and propose to use the exchange rate of that morning when I got meet the person.  I am not super sure if this saves money.  Last time I calculated and compared with the exchange rate they use at Narita International airport, the difference was not that great.  But I like the feeling that I already have Japanese money before I leave the US.
c. Flying in and out
Narita is the international airtport, but I notice that recently Haneda is also a possibility.  Haneda is in Tokyo, so if you have a choice I recommend using Haneda.  Narita is like an hour or so away from Tokyo.
d. I think you can also arrange such that you fly into Tokyo but leave from another city in Japan like Osaka.  That way, you can make your trip efficient.
e. A lot of people go to Tokyo and then Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima.

Apple ID recovery

I have an old iphone that I want to use through  my home Wifi for skyping and zooming (www.zoom.us).  It is not connected at all to the phone network system.

The phone worked fine for a while for my limited purposes, but just this morning, it gave me a message "Activation Required" to which  I had to provide my apple ID and password. This happened after ignoring messages that were reminding me to enter a password to the apple account.

(My phone's start button is broken, so I couldn't restart it.)

I didn't remember my password.  The following is what I was told by the customer service representative.

Go to appleid.apple.com

Click on:

Forgot Apple ID or password?

Enter your Apple ID to get started.

You will be going through the pages where you are expected to  enter information regarding i-phone.   Most of these options require that you are an active i-phone user or you have an Apple device.  I don't, which is why I had to call Apple.   If you look close, there is an option (not highlighted by a big icon, so it's easy too miss) for people who don't use any  apple products.  Just find that  and follow instructions.  They will automatically text you a code to your current phone and you will be entering that to the website form.

The activation of a new password will be about 24 hours and this is where I am now.

To get a telephone support (like I did to get information), you will have to navigate from this page.  You enter your phone number and they will call you in two minutes.


How I activated a new Essential phone without visiting a Verizon store

-- October 17th, 2018

I dropped my Samsung Phone and broke it.   I was planning to buy a new phone anyways, so I ordered a ESSENTIAL phone on Amazon.   The price was $340 plus tax, which was substantially cheaper than an i-phone or a Samsung phone (price range $800-$1000).  If you directly order it from Essential website, the price is $499 and the phone comes with accessories (click here).

I always bought my phones at a Verizon service vendor, but my cousin assured me that buying a smartphone online is easy.  My cousin also told me that ESSENTIAL phones are made by Andrew Rubin who created the android OS system.  Their website was sharp looking and Internet reviews were positive.  One review said that Essential phones are compatible with my phone provider, Verizon.  To state my conclusion first:

  • I got the phone started within two hours of receiving it
  • I was able to get it started without calling Verizon or changing options on my Verizon online account.   A Verizon store would charge me at least $20 to switch a SIM card.  I did not have to order a new SIM card from my online account.
  • I needed
    • a small flat screw driver to open the old Sam Sung phone's back cover and a sharp and tiny need-like thing to open the Essential phone's SIM slot (the Essential phone came with a pin to open the phone's SIM slot).
    • a pair of scissors to cut the SIM card to the nano size (my original Sam Sung phone SIM card was one size larger than the nano size).

When the Essential phone arrived the next day, I took out the SIM card out of my old Samsung Galaxy S4.  I had to flip the backside panel open using a sharp object (I used the IFIXIT driver kit tool).  With the new phone, I pressed the SIM card slot inward till it popped out.

The SIM card was larger than the nano SIM card required by Essential ph-1.  Following the Internet discussion, I cut the plastic part of the card to make it small.  I didn't use the size template that people said one should use.  I just used a pair of scissors.  I cut it too small, so I put a Scotch tape on the back of the SIM card to stick it to the slot firmly.  I didn't want the tape to touch the golden side of the SIM card too much, but my understanding is that the only essential part is the center part of the gold side.

I thought hard about which side should be up, but the card can fit into the slot only in one way (because one corner of the card and the slot are both diagonally cut and they only match in one way/direction).

The phone did not start working immediately.  I took the SIM card out and put it back a couple of times.  At one point the phone started receiving texts.  I was also able to send texts.  The phone still did not work.  It started working when I followed the Internet instruction "Disable Enhanced 4G LTE Mode."  This option was somewhere in the setting.

The downside of this product.  As I predicted with confidence on Day 1, I lost an audio adopter (called Type C) necessarily to use the headset.  The essential phone does not take the standard 3.5mm cable that an i-phone or a Samson phone uses.  I ordered a cable on Amazon ($7.89), but the product that came (this) did not work with my essential phone.  I had to pay $15 and shipment fee ($7.95) to order a new one at:

Audio Adapter

So all together losing the adopter cost me 31 US dollars.