iPhone’s Push Email is Evil

iPhone’s push email service is one of my favorite applications. Oops, sorry, I should have used the past tense form “was”.

The push mechanism follows the old Hollywood cliché “Don’t call us; we’ll call you”. The phone is constantly connected to a server. When a new incoming email is available, the mail system notifies the server, which in turn causes a beep sound plus a vibration to the phone.

push email

At the beginning, it was very cool to receive an email the moment it reaches your email inbox, without having to check the inbox periodically. This essentially transforms an email message into an SMS. It is particularly useful to receive and process a message sent by some important persons, say, your boss, as soon as possible. However, as the consequence of abusing any technology, this later becomes a disaster to me.

I have subscribed to many online services both in Hong Kong and abroad. They are located in a wide spectrum of timezones. And the incoming emails, as a result, come at any time during the 24 hours of one day.

When I am sleeping at night, a push notification can wake me up. When I am busy working, a push notification can distract my attention. These force me to try to turn off the push notification during some critical time periods, but later I found that I often forgot to turn it on and missed a lot of important emails during that time. Hmm, not only the email is pushed to my iPhone, but also my life :-(.

在港申请日本个人旅游签证(Tips on applying a visitor visa to Japan in Hong Kong, for Chinese citizens only)

准备春节期间去日本旅游,最近刚刚申请了访客(Temporary Visitor)签证。总结一下经验,希望对今后需要申请的同学起到帮助。总的来说,由于港日交流较频繁,在港申请比在国内容易得多,体现在财产要求门槛低、申请成功率高。

********关于领事馆********

香港永久居民持有的特区护照(或BNO护照)可以在到访日本90日内免签,大多数香港居民是不需要申请签证前往日本的。因此,在港日本领事馆的业务不多。相比在港美国领事馆,在港日本领事馆的规模很小,位于中环的One Exchange Center(IFC旁边)的46层。不需要预约或排队(当年申请美国签证时,为了抢先,前一天特意住在上环,早晨走到花园道orz)。需要提前查看开放时间。除了香港的假期之外,日本假期(譬如Dec. 23为天皇诞辰)也不开放。

领事馆内的工作人员大多是香港人,包括“签证官”(其实没有签证官,他们只是受理签证业务的工作人员)。讲英语、日语、普通话、广东话均可。我办理签证时,那个阿姨相当友好和耐心,而且似乎很了解CUHK,说不定是从CUHK Japanese Studies系毕业的^^。

目前对于持有中国护照的人士,在港日本领事馆只受理拥有香港居留权(例如学生,工作身份)的。这一点CUHK的学生都通过。

********关于申请材料********

申请签证的目的是商务或旅游,需要出示相应的证明。对于个人申请,需要担保人。担保人可以是拥有日本国籍的居民,也可以是在日本居住(永居与否均可,只要是常住,就像居港内地生一样)的居民,还可以是法人(公司)。

需要提交一系列申请材料。大致可以分为两类:第一类由签证申请人提供,第二类由担保人提供。具体项目领事馆给得很清楚(http://www.hk.emb-japan.go.jp/chi/visa.html#1c),这里就不再重复。需要注意的是,担保人提交的文件也必须是原件(和复印件)。这就需要担保人将原件从日本寄到自己的住所(用EMS,2天就到)。此外,要严格遵循领事馆建议的格式。担保人可以在日本当地的役所(政府相关部门)领取表格。

自己也需要提供存款证明(和国内不同,没有一定数额要求,只要足够支付旅费和路费就可以,HKD 2万足矣)。在职证明可以开学校的certifying letter。虽然这个和领事馆要求的格式不同,不过由于CUHK是相当可信的,因而也OK。

此外对于担保人,还想多讲两句。

自然人担保时,需要其出示日本户籍本复印件(不需要原件),收入证明,在职证明,以及护照复印件。由于这些文件极为隐私,因而领事馆有理由相信有能力出示这些材料的担保人是可靠的,并且和申请人的关系不一般(亲属或好友之类的)。法人担保时,需要出示法人团体登记簿,法人团体介绍,担保信等。对于担保信,内容越详细越好。最好是日语。

行程安排表可以编撰,但是也要令人信服。预乘航班也可以临时填一个。毕竟领事馆也理解申请人无法准确预测将来行程。

********都准备好了,那么就提交吧********

另外,虽然不是必备,但是过去前往发达国家的签注也作为领事馆决定是否签发的参考依据(没有的没关系,有的就不要留过犯罪、延期不返记录)。

提交文件之后,工作人员会逐项检查,也会不时问几个不痛不痒的问题。如果材料齐全,基本上没有任何障碍。香港不受政治影响,申请签证的通过率不是问题。我提交材料之后3个工作日就领到了签证(护照暂时留在领事馆),费用是HKD 250,只接受现金。

If Windows Live Mesh for Mac quits on start, use the following trick

If Windows Live Mesh for Mac crashes on start, delete the directory ~/Library/Application Support/Live Id, and restart Live Mesh.

How to disable cursor blink rate in Mac OS X

A blinking cursor can be quite annoying (have you heard of the Chinese water torture?).

Unfortunately, if you are a Mac user, disabling the cursor blink rate does not go so straightforward as one might expect in Windows.

Now open a terminal. Type in the following command:

defaults write -g CursorBlink -string 0

which disables cursor blink on the global level (i.e. for every application).

As an alternative, we can optionally set the blink period to be a very, very large number. Note that the unit is milliseconds. So 1000 means 1 second. Thanks to this post.

defaults write -g NSTextInsertionPointBlinkPeriod -int 100000000

Now you have a non-blinking cursor in every application^^.

terminal@mac