Obihai working with Google Voice once again!

Obihai just sent out an email to all their users announcing that once again Google Voice is now officially supported on OBi VoIP devices.

Google had announced they were disabling XMPP support awhile back, causing Obihai and other VoIP device manufacturers who were piggybacking on Google Voice to scramble for a new free/cheap solution. XMPP access was suppose to be disabled back in May, but I don’t think Google has actually pulled the plug yet. Though that hasn’t stopped me from finding a new solution while we wait for the inevitable.

Yesterday, Google announced they’ve integrated Google Voice into Google Hangouts. Today, Obihai announces that they’re officially supporting Google Voice again. Not sure if that’s purely a coincidence or the integration has opened up some access point that Obihai can now connect to.

Setting up your Obihai device with Google Voice is simpler than before:

  1. Log into and go to your Dashboard
  2. Select your OBi device from the list
  3. Click on the new Google Voice Set-Up button above your service provider list
    Google Voice Set-Up
  4. If this is your first time setting up with new Google Voice, it should prompt you to update your firmware which should take 1-2 minutes
  5. Once the firmware update completes, enter your area code and link it up with your Google Voice account

Tada! That’s it! You’re no longer require to provide OBiTalk with your Google credentials. Instead, they’ve adopted OAuth (similar to how you can use Facebook or Twitter to log into random websites).

Direct Links to Apple’s iTunes App Store Categories

If you ever wanted to post a direct link that opens to an App Store category on iTunes, you’ve probably ran into a bit of trouble. If you right click and copy the link from an app’s category, you’d probably end up somewhere like:

No problem when you try opening it from a iOS device, but if you open that link on a computer browser, you’ll most definitely be disappointed.

You can change https:// to itmss:// and if the protocol is registered, it’ll open up on iTunes. But Facebook and Twitter don’t really treat itmss links correctly. Facebook redirects to http:// and Twitter doesn’t even linkify it.

I have gone on a quest to find the regular http links that’ll open App Store categories and I have found the following. Basically what you’ll need is the MZStore.woa API which calls viewGrouping and figure out what the group id is.

Unfortunately I didn’t look far enough to figure out some of the newer categories: Books, Catalogs, Food & Drink, Medical, Newsstands

So if you know the direct links to the newer categories, feel free to post it in the comments below and I’ll update my post.

How To Fix The Shopping Tote Bag Problem

Safeway Tote BagI generally try to be environmentally friendly, but I just can’t seem to remember to ever bring in my tote bag into the grocery store. Maybe it’s because it’s so infrequent that I ever go to a supermarket. I always have a tote bag in the back of my car, but 90% of the time, I only remember it when I’m checking out. By then, I’m too lazy to just drop everything just to retrieve my tote bag from my car.

I know some stores have a small monetary incentive for you to use your tote bag instead of using their plastic bags, but do people really care about the quarter they just saved by using their tote bag?

What they should do instead is at EVERY entrance of the store, have a giant sign reminding people about their tote bags. When I don’t actually have anything picked out yet, I’m a lot more inclined to head back to my car to get my tote bag.

What would be better is they have some sort of tote bag program, similar to milk that comes in a glass bottle, where you’re charged a nominal fee for the glass bottle, but will be refunded when you return the bottle. So by the time I accumulate 20 or so tote bags, I can just return them all at once. If people like the tote bags, they can opt to keep them and it’ll be cheap advertising for your supermarket.

Toyota Paws

While driving into work the other day, I noticed the logo on the car in front of me said PAWS. I thought it was cute and the driver in front of me was probably an animal lover. But as I got closer, I realized it didn’t actually say PAWS, but said PRIUS instead. Maybe it’s just me, but with a little distance, the R looks like a double-story lowercase a (if you can imagine the bottom closing off) and the I.U looks like a uppercase W.

Prius / Paws Logo

Original photo courtesy of Beth and Christian Bell

Sometimes Humanity Surprises Me Into Believing In It Again

Saw this on reddit and wanted to reshare, but it was too long to tweet: Japan pensioners volunteer to tackle nuclear crisis

Yasuteru Yamada

“I am 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to live,” he says.

“Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop. Therefore us older ones have less chance of getting cancer.”

Someone in the comments posted:

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

A society falls when old men cut down trees whose shade they know they’re not going to need any more.

Which someone replied to the 2nd saying with:

Welcome to the United States

Explosive… Seriously?

I just got this email through our HOA group email and just by reading the title, I knew what it was going to be about.

Explosive thrown on my deck last night

Last night at around 11:30pm I heard as if something hit my window or wall and then heard a bang. There was visible smoke on the deck and it smelled like smoke. Upon closer inspection, I found leftovers from a small explosive (photo attached).

This is very scary and I do not feel safe in this neighborhood anymore. I couldn’t sleep for a long time last night and did not get enough sleep as a result which is ruining my weekend. The Board advised I should call the police which I will do next time (I might still report this incident too).

This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. I hope this is just some kid playing a bad joke rather than a targeted harassment. If anyone’s children were out last night, please talk to them.



What I didn’t expect was how seriously they took the incident. It’s very clear to me some kids got ahold of fireworks and it landing on the porch was probably accidental. Explosive? Harassment? Couldn’t sleep? Ruined Weekend? Seriously?!? Sigh…

Update: OMG seriously?!?!?

Police came over and found a few more scraps of the illegal firework on my deck. They said it’s the type of fireworks that gets out of control and can land anywhere if malfunctioning. Luckily it landed on the concrete part of my patio a couple of inches away from the rug and plants. It could have easily burned my rug if it landed at a wrong spot or hurt me if I was there.

Police requested if anyone saw or heard anything last night or knows something, please report it.


Bad Vibrations

sunlight through clouds Finally got around to fixing my Honda Civic’s brake rotors. If you’ve sat in my car in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that it tends to vibrate whenever I use the brakes. And recently (as in the past year) it’s been making screeching noises whenever I use them, and it’s only gotten louder. The last time I took it into Bellevue Honda for a recall issue, they told me the vibration/noise issue was due to bad suspensions and would cost over ~$750 to fix. When I took my car into Autohaus Vick when my engine light turned on, they told me the issue was because my brake rotor had bent/morphed, which made a lot more sense. To fix that, they told me it would cost ~$350. They told me I still had 40% of my brake pads left and I should come back when I wanted to get them replaced and they can fix it then.

I finally decided that I didn’t want to deal with these vibrations and screeching noises anymore and took it in to get my brake rotors and pads replaced. After prime discount and sales tax, it came out to be $368. The ride is definitely a lot smoother and quieter now. And I’m no longer afraid to use the brakes!

All in all, I think it’s time for a new car.

Health Screening Numbers

Sushi Garden, Vancouver BC
Spicy salmon sashimi at Sushi Garden, Vancouver BC - AWESOMELY DELICIOUS!

Got my health screening numbers today. Apparently my numbers look excellent according to the health consultant.

Body Fat: 15.9% (Recommended: 10 – 20)
BMI: 22.3 (Normal Weight: 18.5 – 24.9)
Total Cholesterol: 153 (Desirable: < 200)
HDL: Cholesterol: 69 (Exceptional: ≥ 60)
LDL Cholesterol: 74 (Optimal: < 100)
Triglycerides: 52 (Normal: < 150)
Glucose: 89 (Normal: < 99)
Blood Pressure: 115 / 64 (Normal: < 120 / < 80)

Looks like the last time I posted #s were back in 2007. Most #s look pretty much the same, though I significantly brought down my body fat and BMI. My HDL cholesterol also jumped up quite a bit. I presume that’s good. Haha.

It’s also interesting to see how some of the desirable/normal ranges have shifted.

I wonder if the reason I didn’t get my #s for 2008 and 2009 was because I was too lazy (my general way of living) or if I was afraid to know the results given that was when I sort of let myself go. Haha. I want to say it’s because I’m lazy, but now I’m not so sure.

Along the way, I also got my flu shot. Derek finally convinced me, even though he doesn’t get them on his own. Haha. Let’s see if I get a slight fever this time as I usually do with flu shots. ;p

The Egg

I first read this story on Digg which posted it as a screenshot of 4chan, but here’s the original source: The Egg by Andy Weir. A very short story, but very deep and thought provoking and definitely worth the 5-10 minutes reading it.

When I was a kid, I had a belief that reality was merely an immersive experience that beings from a higher place (i.e. angels) were partaking. In fact, my belief was that I was the only “real” thing in my reality and everyone else existed only to make my world complete. When we died, we would wake up inside a contraption (which back then really just involved some sort of goggles) and be able to select a new experience (sort of like choosing a new movie). Next to me would be other “angels” enjoying their own virtual reality. I was small back then, so definitely not as thought out as “The Egg”, but this story triggered that memory.

Something else the story reminded me of was why humans are trying to achieve the hand of god (aka the divine move) in games such as Chess or Go. Here are 2 dialogs from Hikaru no Go I’d like to share:

Kuwabara: Sakamaki-san, did you know that Go is a two player game?
Sakamaki: Of course I know that.
Kuwabara: No, you don’t. You can’t play Go by yourself.
Sakamaki: I said, I know that.
Kuwabara: You need two people. A masterful game cannot happen with just one genius. Right, Sakamaki-san? You need two people with equal genius. Two. When you have two, you can finally take a step towards the divine move.

Hikaru: Then the god of Go must be quite lonely. There’s nobody on the same level as he is, after all.
Uncle: Maybe that’s why the god of Go is teaching men how to play and devote themselves to Go. To raise a player who can play equally against him.
Akira: Does that mean Go players of the past and present are all improving together through friendly rivalry?
Uncle: That’s right! With each person affecting the other.
Akira: Sounds like a plan that will take a million years.