Page 7 of 23« First...56789...Last »

Getting an apartment in Japan

August 10, 2013 •

When I came to Japan to work at pixiv this year, I knew this was going to be my first time in the country where I’d have to actually find a proper apartment to live in. When I came here on my working holiday, I spent the first half of it living in accommodation provided by the company, and the second half was traveling around Osaka, home-staying with Japanese families (Excellent fun, by the way!).

Making things a bit more interesting, I also had a few criteria for the apartment of my dreams:

  • pixiv have a policy where they can add help subsidise your apartment rent, providing the apartment is within a certain distance from the office (So, the closer to the building in Sendagaya, the better!)
  • Since I knew I wasn’t planning to stay in the longterm, ideally the place would be pre-furnished.
  • IDEALLY (but not necessarily), I would like a place that wouldn’t require me to commit to a 2 year contract (And then having to pay piles of money to cancel down the track)

A few weeks before leaving Perth, in probably the most stereotypical way of looking for apartments in Japan, I started my search on GaijinPot.com. I’d heard from a few people that it’s not unheard of for landlords to refuse new tenants purely because they’re not Japanese before, so I figured if it was listed there, they should all be okay.

There ended up being quite a few interesting places on GaijinPot. There was one particular one that I especially liked the look of since it had a loft above the kitchen where the bed (I like lofts. XD) So I sent a message to the realtor and asked that (given my set of criteria above) whether it might be possible to rent that one when I got to Japan. I promptly received a reply from a realtor from Tokyo Best Realtors explaining to me that although that particular unit DID require a 2 year commitment, if we met up once I arrived in Tokyo, they’d be able to help me find a much better suited apartment. I agreed and we scheduled a meeting on the first Saturday of me arriving in Tokyo (free of charge!).

When I actually arrived in Tokyo, I was expecting to start working at pixiv straight away, so I was a little nervous at imagining how I was going to manage full-time work, out of a hotel, while at the same time searching for an apartment (To the point where I was wondering if I should have committed to an apartment before coming to Japan). Interestingly/thankfully, when I arrived at the office, I was informed that it was necessary for my employment registration (including bank account registration) that I have a permanent address before I could actually officially start work. So with my newfound free time, I was looking forward to securing an apartment as fast as possible.

On the first Saturday of being in Japan, I went and met Mr Taka Nomura of Tokyo Best Realtors in a café in Shinjuku to discuss apartment options in the area. Thankfully, he spoke absolutely flawless English, so it was very easy to get down to business (I doubt that I could have done that with my Japanese!).

Mr Nomura explained to me that there is actually a central database of available housing in Japan, accessible only via licensed realtors, and that although online sites like GaijinPot display a good number of apartments, the central database has the most comprehensive list. After showing me the database, he told me that even if I couldn’t get a furnished apartment, it IS possible to rent a full furniture set in Japan (on a yearly basis), so it’s not completely necessary to search for furnished apartments. Anyway, after doing a little bit of searching in the general Shinjuku area, we discovered that there were actually 2 short-term apartments that were available for rent on an ongoing basis (ie you could cancel at any time). One was quite small, but close by, and there was another one that was further away, but a lot bigger.

As it looked like time was going to be of the essence, we left the cafe to go check out the smaller apartment to see what it was like. Since I was actually expecting something tiny, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was actually quite open and felt rather roomy; more than enough for my needs. On top of that, it was still in the range of the pixiv housing subsidy. So without doing too much thinking, I told Mr Nomura that I would definitely like to rent this apartment. Mr Nomura said he’d contact the landlord and see if they’d accept my application.

A few days later, I received an email from Mr Nomura saying that the landlord approved and the apartment would be mine once I’d paid the initial invoice, which consisted of all of the initial setup fees such as cleaning, lock fitting, and remaining rent for the month. After paying that straight away, I had another meeting with Mr Nomura to sign the contract and receive the key, and that was it! The place was mine!

Overall, the process was very quick. It took less than 2 weeks to go from having absolutely no idea what to do, to receiving the keys to my new apartment. I was very impressed at Mr Nomura’s handling of the whole process. He was extremely professional and meticulous in explaining all of the details, and was always extremely prompt when communicating via email.

After this experience, if I was going to do this again, my recommendation now is to most likely bypass GaijinPot and just meet with a Tokyo real estate agency directly once you’ve arrived in Japan. Since they all have access to the same database, you won’t find different places at different agencies, and so it’ll boil down to how the agency will treat you. At this point, I’m very glad to vouch for Tokyo Best Realtors as their service was absolutely amazing.

If you have any questions about this post, feel free to follow me on Twitter, or like my Facebook page!

Hello world 2.0!

August 3, 2013 •

Blimey, it’s been a fair while. How’s everyone been?

As you may or may not have noticed, a couple of things have changed slightly around here. I’ve been hard at work on this for a couple of weeks now, and I’m really happy that it’s finished and online. :D

A lot’s happened this year. A LOT. I’ve been learning a great deal of new things while working at pixiv, I’ve traveled Japan, I’ve bought and played with some amazing new hardware, and I even took off to California for a week to hang with Google. Oh yeah, and Apple just announced a new version of iOS that turns iComics on its head. ^_^;

And all this time, I’ve been keeping notes on all of this to make them as good blog topics. But sadly, there has been a bit of a “thing” that’s been holding me back somewhat.

The thing holding me back was my old blog theme (Pictured above).

I designed that theme back when I first got it in my head to start a blog, sometime in mid-2008, back when Firefox was the hip cool browser, Chrome was just about to go live, and  Internet Explorer 7 was king of the internet. ^_^;

Needless to say, times have changed since then. Not only has browser technology leaped forward since then (Making things like hand-drawn shadows a thing of the past), but the hardware we consume web content on (ie smartphones and tables) has evolved to an amazing degree.

And whenever I thought about blogging about all of these amazing topics this year, I could’t help but feel ashamed I’d be doing it on theme that was designed for the web 5 years ago (Especially if the post is about design itself). ^_^;

So, after researching the trends of the design of other blogs, and putting together a new design tailored for my own vision of this site, I am now proud to present my re-fitted blog.

It differs from the old blog in quite a few aspects:

  • Professionalism
    My original blog theme was designed with the intention of being really casual and personal. But given the types of posts I’ve ended up writing these days (iComics announcements, iPokédex legal discussions, code techniques etc), I decided the blog needed a much more professional air about it.
  • Much more simplified design
    The old blog design was quite visually chaotic. This new theme does away with all structural graphical elements to portray and very flat, clean design.
  • Removed a lot of the clutter
    You probably don’t need to see my Xbox gamer card, or my Twitter feed, or a break-down of posts by month. This new design strives to only portray the bare minimum of necessary content.
  • No more comments
    I’m still up in the air about this, so I might bring it back. But sadly, even though there are some great comments attached to these topics, for every 1 good comment, there were 3 spam comments trying to promote their wares. Since the majority of people who read my blog follow me on Twitter (or we’re mates on Facebook), I figured I can leave the conversations there instead. (Don’t worry. They haven’t been deleted!)
  • Fully Retina/HiDPI Capable
    After buying a MacBook Pro with Retina Display this year, I’ve pretty much resolved to convert all of my websites over to HiDPI as soon as I can. This new theme is fully HiDPI capable, and all blog posts made from now on will support it as well.
  • Responsive
    As I find maintaining a separate mobile site quite logistically challenging, using the magic of Twitter Bootstrap and a fair bit of testing, this new theme is capable of re-arranging itself to cater for the screen dimensions of any device it is displayed on. :)
  • New domain name
    Turns out having to tell everyone there’s a dash in ‘www.tim-oliver.com’ when explaining the URL is kind of annoying. I was absolutely ecstatic when I discovered TimOliver.com.au was still free. And I’ll be making sure it goes to good use. :D

The blog still needs a little work. Each post has to have a ‘featured’ image inserted into it, and so I’ll be working through that, sorting the posts by priority.

In any case, I’m really happy with this new theme, and I hope you’ll find it a bit easier on the the eyes over the previous one. XD

Have a nice weekend!

Sup from Japan!

February 13, 2013 •

Japan Flag

G'day everyone!

Sorry about the delay, things have been absolutely crazy lately. XD

Due to various circumstances, I've ended up with a bit of spare time, so I thought I'd give this blog a bit of love. :D

So, in case anyone missed the memo, I'm in Japan right now. ^_^ After applying last year, and making it through 2 interviews, I accepted a job to work at pixiv as a mobile application developer. I arrived here last Thursday and have been settling in since. I haven't started work yet as there's still a few logistics involved with getting set up beforehand (Really important things. Like choosing an awesome email address. XD). However, I've already gone and met my team and had a look at the kind of projects I'll be joining/potentially spearheading. Sadly, I can't publicly talk about them until they've been announced, but trust me when I say, they're pretty damn awesome. :D

In a sad, sad, tragic, horrific series of events, I'm currently without a laptop; my MacBook Air's keyboard kicked the bucket a few days ago. Figuring that now would be the best time as any to go without a laptop for a few days, I handed it in to the Shibuya Apple Store and have been rolling on just my iPad since then.

It's definitely a bit of a different experience coming to Japan to work, instead of on travel. Obviously, there's a few more things you have to worry about like setting up a bank account and working out a short-long term accommodation plan. Also, things that are pretty easy to manage when on a quick stay, like renting a SIM card for your mobile phone become a little more complicated. These are all excellent topics for more blog posts down the track.

In any case, I've still got a backlog of posts I want to write from 2012, so I might spend my laptop-less time updating this blog with all of these incredibly late posts. XD

Take care everyone!

Pixiv Logo

 

Happy 2013!

December 31, 2012 •

Holy smokes! We’re on the last day of 2012 already! Blimey that was fast!! O_O

I hope everyone had a fulfilling 2012; one not of regret but one of good times, and sharing them with friends and family.

As always, I like to make a quick note of my personal achievements throughout the year, just as a bit of reflection on how I spent the year.

  • Signed a mortgage and bought an apartment (Holy crap!!)
  • Attended GDC in San Francisio, during March this year as an official rep of UberGames. XD (Still going to write a blog about this!)
  • Shook hands with a person from the Pokémon company and had a little chat about iPokédex (More on that later. Maybe.)
  • Attended talks at GDC by game dev veteran people like Notch and Tim Schafer. (Yeah, not much to say about this. It was beyond epic)
  • Got offered a job at an amazing company in Japan (More on that later. Maybe. :) )
  • Was one of 1500 developers to attend the Apple WWDC and witness the unveiling of iOS 6 and the Retina MacBook Pro firsthand. (Shiny. Sooo shiny.)
  • Attended Perth’s first Startup Weekend and built a shippable product in under 48 hours. (Oh god. The pressure. XD)
  • After 11 months of development, I shipped version 1.0 of iComics on the iOS App Store. (Feels really good. Trust me. :) )
  • Presented a talk on HiDPI web page practices at (what is most likely) the final AUC /dev/world/ conference. (Video coming to my YouTube soon! :) )
  • Spent the entire year researching web technologies and started putting to good use on a new iteration of the UberGames site (Coming VERY soon)

I like to treat each year as one of personal growth, and try my best to best what I did in the previous year with each one. Some absolutely amazing stuff happened this year, and I think I definitely outdid 2011. :D

As always, I’ve got a pile of goals I want to strive for in 2013.

  • Lose weight. Like seriously. I gained like 4kg in the silly season this year. >_< Thankfully, thanks to the nutritional research I did this year, and certain changes that may be happening next year, this may be possible.
  • Learn more about corporate development practices. As someone who is mainly self taught in programming, hearing all these mysterious things like ‘agile development’ and ‘unit testing’ this year has made me realise I should learn more about development logistics.
  • Learn more about low-level coding. I’d love to learn more about how various CPU architectures works on their native level.
  • Start a new games project. This has been in the works since like 2007. We gotta start this thing. Seriously. XD
  • Make iComics the #1 DRM-free comic reader on  the App Store. This WILL be hard. But I am determined. :)

As always. I hope everyone else had an amazing 2012 and have great plans for 2013. Happy holidays everyone!

Happy 2013! :D

26. ಠ_ಠ

December 10, 2012 •

Me at 26. XDIt’s been a week or two ago now, but I thought I’d do my obligatory birthday post.

I like to do birthday posts every year. Advancing in age is one of the best excuses you get to party, and I always cherish the times I spend with my friends and family during this time. I was considering doing a reflection on all the crazy crap that happened this year, but I’ll save that for new year’s eve.

So. Roughly this time last year, I turned 25. Criminey. Turning a quarter of a century old was scary enough, now I’m more than a quarter of a century. They say that 27 is when all the crazy crap actually happens, so I’m going to leave that for now. XD

As always, it was an awesome weekend. For the outing with my buddies, we tried out a cool restaurant in the southern area of Perth called Tsunami (The irony of that name right now isn’t lost on me. ^_^; )

Tsunami was a rather interesting place. As you’d expect they had a wide range of Japanese dishes, but there were some interesting flairs about them. For example, the sashimi we ordered came with stone blocks heated to 400C for which you could cook the fish on (Which I’m guessing is for the less adventurous when it comes to eating raw fish XD). Either way, the food was amazing, and I’d definitely want to go back there again. :)

After dinner, we all went back to my house for cake and ice cream. Overall a very nice evening. ^_^

On the following day, I had lunch with my parents and my grandmother at a restaurant near our house. Dad’s gift to me was some kind of sponsored merch from work, which he called a ‘care package’. I’m pretty sure he was given that merch against his will. XD

Anyway, as far as birthdays go, I couldn’t ask for more. I’m so glad I have so many friends and family I can spend the day with.

Now I just gotta make 26 as awesome as 25 was. XD

iPokédex. Now one year.

July 15, 2012 •

Hey everyone.

I almost missed this, but thankfully I was somehow reminded of it last Friday.

As of the instant this blog post was published, iPokédex has officially been offline for precisely a year now. Wow. That was fast.

I thought I’d just quickly say, thanks again for all of the support everyone has given me. It was thanks to all of this kind feedback that made me think it was something worth pursuing.
(Also, even though it’s taken down, please stop asking for an Android version! XD)

I can’t really say anything for certain right now, but thanks to my trip to GDC earlier this year, iPokédex making a comeback isn’t fully off the table at this point. And as such, I haven’t given up. :)

However, there’s nothing I can do about it in the immediate present, so right now, I’m continuing my work with iComics. :)

In any case, fingers are still crossed! Don’t give up hope! :)

Page 7 of 23« First...56789...Last »