Monday, January 11, 2016

Cannot Connect to

Last time I went to the Philippine embassy to get my OES, I was given this sheet containing a link to "". The lady advised me to start using this website as the embassy will soon stop processing manual applications and everything will be done online.

Problem is, it seems I cannot connect to the website. I trade last year (December 2015) and I tried again this year (January 2016) and I get the same error message.

Doesn't matter when I try from Safari or from Chrome or even from my iPhone, I get the same message. I do have friends who have successfully used the service, so I'm guessing I am doing something wrong here.

Has the link changed?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Yiruma - River Flows In You

Yiruma is a recent discovery while I was searching the internet for pianists who play relaxing music. Yiruma's style reminds me of another famous pianist, David Lanz, in that their music are both relaxing and beautiful even without the overly complex piano routines. When I ran into Yiruma's "River Flows in You", I loved it immediately.

Luckily, a quick Google search gave me a PDF file containing the piano sheets, which looks consistent with how Yurima played the piece as released in his First Love album. Searching YouTube for his live performances would show that in later performances, he has made several changes to the original piece. There is even a video I saw where he was also singing to the piece.

My favorite is still the original and that's why I sticked with the piece that matches the original recording, when I took it upon myself to learn the piece.

I recorded this cover using the ballad grand piano setting of the Yamaha P-255. I read from the manual that the ballad grand piano, more than the default grand piano, is better suited for relaxing piano music such as this one. I have to agree as the trebles are more muted.

Hope you like it.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Yellow Tokyo

The other day, I took a day off from work to run some errands, getting my OEC from the Philippine embassy, and renewing my Japanese International Driver's License, both in preparation for my visit to the Philippines. The weather was amazing with clear blue skies, so I decided to bring my trusty camera with me hoping I could take some street pictures after I finish running my errands.

Luckily, it was the peak of autumn so all the Ginkgo trees that line the streets of Tokyo are in their photogenic yellow form. From Kanda where I renewed my Japanese International License, I walked towards the imperial palace, where I saw this guy possibly wearing a traditional police uniform. I assumed he was a police guy because the horse has the police mascot on his forehead.

Having the bright yellow ginkgo trees for his background is a pleasant bonus.

I then walked towards Hibiya park where luckily there were momiji trees (Japanese maple) in their autumn best. The leaves make for a good foreground to the bright yellow ginkgo trees. Red over yellow.

I also like how the leaves are lit up by the autumn sun.

Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
Lens: Olympus 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II

Fifteen years living in Japan and I still never tire of the four seasons and the distinct character that each season brings.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cloud Atlas Theme (Sextet) using Yamaha P-255

The theme song from the Cloud Atlas movie, is one of my favorite piano pieces. It starts slow and relaxing but gradually picks up pace. I did some customizations to this version by adding some strings midway (thanks to the Yamaha P-255), and by returning to the slow and relaxing part after the crescendo.

I played this one sing a Yamaha P-255. Audio was recorded separately via the keyboard's save as audio file feature, and was later added to the video taken by my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera. This ensures there is no background noise and the audio you hear is nothing but the music.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Moneytree Review

I have been using Moneytree for a couple of weeks now since I posted my first blog about it, and I believe I am ready to give my short review.

Who Moneytree is for?

This is for both Japanese and foreigners living in Japan, who want to manage their personal finances including expenses, on their Apple gadget. This is for those who want to keep it simple but still keep in track of their personal finances.

Who Moneytree isn't for?

This is not for people who are not living in Japan or who do not have Japanese bank or credit card accounts. This is also not for people who are not comfortable entering their bank or credit card details in the Moneytree app.

This is not for Android users as it looks like its iOS only, as of this writing.

What are the good points about Moneytree?

Once you enter your bank and credit card details, it would automatically synchronize the data on Moneytree with the data from those institutions. This means you will always see an accurate picture of your accounts, and no more need to manually enter every transaction from your bank or credit card accounts.

It is also good to know that Moneytree has the backing of Japan's biggest banks, namely, Mizuho, Mitsubishi-UFJ, and SMBC. Of course, it supports other banks and credit card companies as well.

Entering manual expenses is possible and simple.

What are the bad points about Moneytree?

If you have banks not in Japan or if you also want to monitor expenses not in Japanese yen. I tried creating a manually maintained cash account in US dollars but looks like it is not possible.

Will you be using it from now on?

Yes. Love the simplicity and the automated synchronization with the banks. Coming from MoneyWiz, I needed some getting used to not having to enter every expense I made, but I quickly got used to it as it's definitely simpler.

I do miss the ability to keep track of my non-Japanese yen cash but that is one sacrifice I am willing to take in exchange for the simplicity and ease of use.