Thursday, November 23, 2017

Maintaining Your Car’s Exterior

Vehicles are simply tools to move from point A to point B which have become a necessity in our lives.
A cheap car would suffice, but… why not travel in style?
Taking care of our cars is actually very important in maintaining their value and allowing us to travel comfortably. Here, I will speak on how to care for the exterior paint of your car and point to some resources in the Silicon Valley. Mind you, I am no expert in the car industry and am only speaking from my experience as a car owner.

Simply put, our car’s exterior is composed of the vehicle's body, paint, windows, mirrors, tires, rims, bumpers, mirrors, exhaust pipes, etc. The most visible of these parts is the paint, especially on black cars. In order to care for the paint, in particular, there are a few key points.

Prevent Damage

Things that can damage the paint include:
  • Physical damage while parked (door dings, vandalism, environmental damage)
    • use covered parking when possible, especially when there is risk for damage (i.e. severe weather like storms)
    • park in safe, well-lit areas
    • avoid parking in locations where young people hang out, as they tend to have more time and impulses to engage in vandalism
    • park in less crowded areas of parking lots
    • park next to expensive, well-kept cars
    • when parking, leave room for the driver’s side door of nearby parked cars to be opened
  • Physical damage while driving (accidents, flying rocks/debris on the road)
    • avoid driving behind vehicles which may drop debris, such as dump trucks, especially near construction and road-work areas
    • avoid driving on roads with many rocks
    • in areas with snow, avoid winter abrasives on the road such as winter salt, which can cause paint and trim damage when kicked up by tires
  • Tree sap/bird/insect droppings
    • do not park near trees, as all kinds kinds of trees may drop sap
    • do not park under places where birds may sit (light poles, trees)
    • avoid parking near areas with many bugs
    • wipe off any contaminants from the car as soon as possible, as they can eat into the paint and clear coat if left alone
  • Acid rain, “hard” water, dust, sunlight
    • park in covered areas
    • avoid driving in the rain or dusty areas

For long-term parking or situations where you must park in a nonideal location, a car cover can be very helpful.

Finally, applying car wax and various coatings (X-protect, hard wax, ceramic) can protect the car's paint.

Wash the car properly

Automatic machine car washes are quite risky. The hard bristled brushes they use may operate on hundreds of cars on any given day and can be covered in dust, which can scratch your car easily. Using touchless machine car washes or cloth-based handwashes are the safest option.

Reversing Paint Damage

There are many levels of damage, which can be addressed in various ways, including clay bar, exterior detailing, waxing, paint restoration, and repainting.
For minor damage, SCRATCH-OUT is good do-it-yourself product.

Resources in the Silicon Valley

Below are some businesses I have used and recommend.

Car Wash

Touchless machine car washes

Touchless washes use high pressure water to clean your car with minimal risk of damage. They are quite convenient if you “pre-wash” your car by gently rubbing off debris, run it through the touchless wash, and hand-dry it yourself afterwards with a clean, microfiber cloth.

The below gas stations offer high quality touchless washes:
  1. Chevron N Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View, CA
  2. Chevron, Willow Rd, Menlo Park, CA
  3. Chevron, Mowry Avenue, Fremont, CA
  4. Valero, Thornton Avenue, Fremont CA

Hand wash shops

I haven't needed to use any yet.

Self wash

This can be done at your home or at a self-service car wash location which provides vacuums, soap, brushes, and water.
  1. Thrifty Car Wash, 2080 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040, USA

Paint Restoration

For paint restoration, I recommend MAR Quality Protection (http://www.marqp.com/) in Fremont, CA. Their service is exceptional and they only have five star reviews. I had them restore my car's paint after some bad paint damage using RestorFX and it looks like new now!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Transferring LINE to a New Phone

In Japan, the mobile Naver LINE messaging application is very popular and used by almost all smartphone users. It is similar to WhatsApp, but has more features. However, one major problem with LINE is the difficulty of transferring your data to a new phone. The main missing feature is the ability to transfer chat history to a new phone. I recently spent a lot of time trying to do this, so am writing this guide for people who are looking to do the same thing.

Required items

  • New smartphone
  • Old smartphone with LINE installed
  • A few hours both for backing up and importing chat history

Back up chat history

If you're old phone and new phone are rooted, there is a faster way to do this, but please do a web search for this. Here we assume the phone is NOT rooted.
This process needs to be performed for every single chat you would like to back up, so it will take significant time.
Described in the LINE Help Center, but I will detail it here.
  1. Open the LINE app
  2. Open a conversation
  3. Select "Chat Settings"
  4. Select "Backup Chat History"
  5. Repeat this for every single conversation

Copy files to your new phone

Backed up chat history is saved in the LINE_BACKUP folder. Find this folder in your old phone and copy it to your new phone.

Transfer LINE account to the new phone

The issue here is that you will lose access to LINE on your old phone once this process is complete. This is by design of LINE. The process is detailed in the LINE Help Center, but I will write here.
  1. Make sure your LINE account on the old phone is either linked to your Facebook account or registered by email address
  2. Install LINE onto your new phone and log in (do NOT click transfer account yet)
  3. If you are having issues at this step, please see the Troubleshooting section below
  4. LINE will ask for a 2-step authentication to allow the account to be transferred
  5. (Optional) Before transferring the account, you can try to put your old phone into airplane mode (without internet access). After transferring accounts, your old phone will try to delete all of the data the next time you open LINE. If you disconnect your old phone from internet, you can temporarily keep the old LINE data on your old phone.
  6. Transfer the account

Import chat history

We're not done yet! Now, we need to manually import all of the chat history. This is also described in the LINE Help Center.
  1. Create a new message to one of your friends
  2. Go to Chat Settings -> Import Chat History
  3. Repeat for all friends
  4. Done!

Troubleshooting

I ran into a lot of trouble while trying to transfer my LINE account, with messages such as "An error occurred. Please wait a while and try again" or "エラーが発生しました。後ほどまたお試しください" in Japanese. I tried many things such as:
  1. Installing an older version of LINE on my new Android phone (Nexus 6p)
  2. Linking a Facebook account instead of the email address
  3. Changing the language of my new phone to Japanese
However, none of these worked! Luckily, LINE has a Problem Report Form. I told them about my issue there and they contacted me back with the below message in a couple of days. You may need to submit your problem a couple of times (spaced a part by a few days) or use a different web browser, but it worked!
Dear our valued customer,

Thank you for contacting LINE Customer Care.



We have finished looking into the issue, and believe it has been resolved.

Please try carrying over your account again after restarting the device and then reinstalling the app.

Please see the following Help article for detailed instructions on carrying over your account:
https://help.line.me/line/?contentId=20000098

If you see an error message when verifying your phone number saying, “Invalid Phone Number”, please wait 1-2 days and try the process again.

If the process fails again after waiting for the appropriate amount of time, please contact us with the details of the error.



Again, thank you for using our services, and please let us know if you need any additional assistance.


Kind regards,

LINE Customer Care


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Understanding Japanese Lifestyle

I moved to Tokyo from the US about half a year ago. In my time here, I have had the opportunity to experience Japanese culture firsthand and interact with many Japanese people. Although we are all humans and more similar than different, there are some key differences I have noticed between the lifestyles of Japanese and American people.

How will I lead my life? Like an American? Like a Japanese? Neither and both. My preference is to pick the best from both lifestyles and lead my life in this way. What is best? This is really a matter of opinion.
Below, I have listed some of the major differences I have observed, as well as my reasoning.
  • Japanese people plan things well ahead of time. For example, a dinner with friends would normally be planned 3+ weeks in advance, as opposed to one week advance.
    • Why? This reduces the level of stress because they know what to expect and have time to prepare.
  • They are more humble. They speak less and listen more. Americans are more talkative and boastful, controlling the flow of conversations.
    • Why? This allows them to learn at a rapid pace and become experts of whatever they do.
  • They ask less questions.
    • Why? Not sure. Perhaps to make it easier on whoever they are talking to?
    • Why not? I am able to understand many things because I keep a list of questions and constantly ask people for answers.
  • They are cleaner.
    • Why? Space is tight in Japan. If people were not clean, things like fully packed trains would not be tolerable.
  • They are more honest.
    • Why? Liars need to remember who they lied to and keep covering up the truth with more lies, which takes a lot of mental energy. If you're honest, you don't need to remember and things just add up.
  • They are more helpful and less selfish.
    • Why? They can easily get help from others when they need it
  • They don't often intentionally try to hurt others feelings.
    • Why? Nobody benefits from this. In fact, everybody feels worse.
  • They are fairer.
    • Why? As a society, they don't have to worry as much about being taken advantage of or being ripped off.
  • They are more trusting of others.
    • Why? Firearms are prohibited. Violence is very uncommon.
    • Why not? I am still careful who I trust, as this is safer.
    • Note: Less than 2% of the population is foreigners, so they understand the background/habits of a majority of people they interact with. Understandably, they are less trusting of foreigners.
  • They are very concerned with how the appear in the group and try to fit in.
    • Why? I'm not sure. Perhaps because they can expect support from the group?
    • Why not? I don't care much what the group thinks about me. This gives me a great level of freedom to live my best. The only issue is that this can make it harder to stay in a Japanese group or make friends within the group. People may stop inviting me because I am "weird".
  • They give their lives to the job, working overtime to their humanly limits. Americans on the other hand are more likely to treat work as an exchange of their time for money.
    • Why? My hunch is that it is a habit passed down after World War II. After the War, Japan's economy was very weak and a lot of work needed to be done to restore it.
    • Why not? I prefer the American way because I value my free time and overworking reduces my quality of life (and productivity).
    • Note: Job security here is very good. Once you are in, it's unlikely you will get fired, and, if you do, you will likely get a generous leaving package.
  •  Their average commute to work time is at least double that of Americans.
    • Why? Housing near working locations is limited and expensive and companies generally pay transportation fees. It also seems that commuting is part of the culture here.
    • Why not? I chose to live walking distance from my office, as I don't want to waste time commuting (in a jam-packed train!).
  • They are less direct.
    • Why? I'm not sure. Perhaps because they don't want to hurt your feelings?
    • Why not? I choose to be direct, so we can resolve the situation and move on with no misunderstandings or bad feelings. Many times, I need to do this one-on-one, so we can talk freely without worrying about who is listening. Japanese people are generally okay with this.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Music to my ears/微妙な英語を聞くのは音楽みたいです

While living in the Silicon Valley for over 20 years, I have had the opportunity to study with and work with people from all over the world. Although we all somehow managed to communicate in English, everyone had varying levels of fluency. Interestingly, people from similar regions seemed to share the same grammar mistakes and odd word choices.

However, this is not a bad thing! In fact, listening to foreigners trying to speak English has often been music to my ears. Depending on the person, it would even beat listening to music!

Now living in Tokyo among the Japanese, I hear music almost every day... perhaps my tattered Japanese is music to their ears as well?

Have you had the same experience as me? Have I been having too much fun by myself? Feel free to leave a comment.

-----
20年間以上シリコンバレーで住みながら、世界のどんな国からも来た人と勉強して働くいい経験がありました。みんなは何とか英語でコミュニケーションができましたが、英語の能力は人によって変わりました。面白いですが、同じ地域から来た外国人は同じ文法の失敗をして、同じように変な言葉を選びました。
しかし、これは悪いことではないですよ。私にとって外国人の英語は音楽みたいです(music to my ears)。人によって、音楽を聴くより面白かったですよ。
現在は東京に日本人とともに暮らしていますが、大体毎日「音楽」を聴きます。もしかすると、私の微妙な日本語も日本人にとって「音楽」です。
--
「music to my ears」のイディオムの意味は2つあります:
1.朗報
 例)You got accepted to UC Berkeley!? That's music to my ears! Let's party tonight! ー> バークレー大学に入学だと!?朗報だよ!今晩はぱてぃーしよう!
2.聞いた音は音楽みたいに快適です。
 例) Her voice is music to my ears. -> 彼女の声は快適です。

ちなみに、女性に声が美しいと言いたければ、「You have the voice of an angel」も言えます。直訳は「君は天使の声を持っています」。

読者さんへ:どう思いますか。外国人の微妙な英語は面白いですか。コメントをしてください。