T-mobile international roaming is great!

It has been a big headache for me to use mobile network in Japan for many years as a short time visitor. In many countries,  it is relatively easy to purchase a prepaid SIM card but not in Japan. They are not available due to the security reasons, prevention of criminal usage. One of other options is to rent a SIM card,  but again this is not a simple option either. It is actually illegal to use mobile phones without the regulatory approval stamp with local SIM cards. But it is legal to do international roaming using foreign SIM cards. What is the difference?  None. You just fell into a crack of out dated regulations. The Japanese regulations simply can’t keep up with technology advancement. 

International roaming can solve some of my problems but it came with a hefty price tag both for myself and folks in Japan. For many years, my solution has been digital detoxing. No phone calls, texting,  looking up things on Google, no Google Map navigation.

Recently,  T-mobile started offering free international roaming text and unlimited data at speed of 2G. This is a fantastic news, so I decided to take advantage of this. 

As soon as I landed in Japan,  I turned on my phone — not literally but as soon as I was allowed to do so. I got a message from T mobile. See below.  

It looks like my phone automatically picked up SoftBank’s 3G network. I could send text messages but I realized I can’t use internet. Based on my previous experience with T Mobile network and a bit of research,  the problem is my APS settings are not compatible with the network. I changed my APS settings based on the instructions found here; https://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-16171. And worked all fine.

It is not the best speed you can get but it is enough to upload photos to SNS, send messages, Googling,  and navigate myself around the town using Google Map. It is without any extra charge,  I can’t complain. 

Are You Living Your Dreams?

Are you living your dreams? I’ve been asked this question frequently by many of people I met. My answer is always “yes.”

 I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was a child but I knew I wanted to live in a foreign country where it snows all winter long. 

Many years later, I moved to the other side of the ocean,  currently living in Chicago where it snows regularly in winter. So, I could say my dream came true. BUT, here is a catch. I like snow but I can’t take long dark winter. The longer I live in Chicago,  the less I feel I live in an exotic place and the challenges of being a foreigner are not getting easier. 

So, the lesson here is, be careful what you wish for. It mat not be what you are looking for. 

For Ishak,


Every May, I make a small flower bouquet and bring it by my friend’s grave side. He is just a friend who I went out dinner with other friends, laughed and cried together, or called middle of night when I was having difficult times, or some times we had disagreements. And I thought this norm for us continues for long time, even we get old we do the same.
For our friendship, there isn’t tomorrow, next week, nor next month. Life is unpredictable. Do it now, don’t wait.

Virtualization and BIOS Update

First of all, do not try what I’ve done in this post. It maybe a dangerous operation and may destroy your computer.

I bought a Lenovo G50-45 laptop about a year ago intending to convert it to my personal develop machine using Ubuntu. The price tag of approximately 450 dollar seemed right for a secondary computer. As soon as I got it, I installed Ubuntu as I intended. The instillation process went without any issues. Great! I was very pleased until one day I decided to install VirtualBox and configure the hardware to support virtualization; AMD-V. I went to the BIOS setting, and I noticed there was no way to enable AMD-V. I didn’t have time to dig more at the time, so I simply concluded that this particular CPU doesn’t support hardware virtualization without further investigation.

A few months has passed since then, now I decided to run Android Studio on it. Again, the virtualization issue came back. This time I did a bit more investigation. I found out that the hardware can support the virtualization. OK! Great! Except that it is telling me again to go to my BIOS setup and enable virtualization.

sudo kvm-ok
[sudo] password for *****:
INFO: /dev/kvm does not exist
HINT: sudo modprobe kvm_amd
INFO: Your CPU supports KVM extensions
INFO: KVM (svm) is disabled by your BIOS
HINT: Enter your BIOS setup and enable Virtualization Technology (VT),
and then hard poweroff/poweron your system
KVM acceleration can NOT be used

I asked my dearest friend, Mr. Google, and this is what I found out.
https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Lenovo-B-and-G-Series-Notebooks/G50-45-Virtualization/td-p/1664345 In short, the BIOS setup utility has a bug and it does not include the virtualization enabler, however, updating BIOS will fix the problem. This solution seemed very simple and reasonable until I realized Lenovo only provided Windows executable. I have Ubuntu…

DO NOT TRY THIS! THIS MAY DESTROY YOUR MOTHERBOARD AND MAKE YOUR COMPUTER USELESS. REPEAT. DO NOT TRY WHAT I SAY FROM NOW. So, I thought if only if I can run a Windows executable on an Ubuntu machine, the problem will be solved. There must be a smart person out there who already figured this problem out. Yes, there was a such a thing called WINE. I tried it, and it didn’t work. Actually, it was great that this didn’t work. Later I learned using WINE could destroy a motherboard to the point requires a new one. Please see this Ubuntu documentation for more details; BIOSUpdate

The document mentioned above also suggests many other ways to update BIOS. However, I haven’t tried any of it yet. Because I simply didn’t have an extra disk that I need to do the operation, most of all it’s a bit tricky thing to do.