Category Archives: Blog

Guide to Shopping and Importing from Japan

If you ever keep yourself up-to-date with the latest news about products in Japan I’m sure there are a lot of exclusive items you’d want to get a hold of.

So, here’s a guide with a list of services I’ve used over the years and a number of things you should be aware of if you’re in the UK.

Fees, Fees, Fees – Foreign Exchange, Customs and Courier Administration

As you know, everything in the UK is sold with VAT (Value Added Tax) which is 20% of the item value. When you import something, this is added to your items too:

  • Anything classified as a “gift” such as something you’re sending to a friend and is over the value of £39.
  • A “commercial good” which is something you bought from a shop and is over the value of £15.
  • The total value of the goods in the package is over £135.

The only exceptions are food and books which are exempt from this.

Other than customs charging VAT on your import goods, the courier such as Royal Mail or Parcel Force will also slap on an extra “administration charge” for handling the customs clearance procedure. This has been a minimum of £20 from my experience.

It’s why whenever you buy an item from overseas via a site like eBay, you often find the item underpriced to something like “1USD” to avoid custom charges! It’s risky to do this of course. You can get yourself into trouble and you also won’t be able to claim the full insurance that some P&P (postage and packaging) services offer such as EMS of course.

So, check what the custom fees are in your own country before importing. It will be at your own risk if you choose to use the same tactic as some oversea sellers to avoid import duty.

As far as P&P is concerned, EMS is the fastest but also the most expensive. Just shipping a PS3 game (or regular blu-ray disc) can cost £15 but you can get it as fast as the next day after shipping. If you don’t mind waiting a month or so, some of the sites listed offer economy delivery by ship which is the cheapest at around £5 for the same item but doesn’t offer tracking or insurance.

Other than customs, admin fees and P&P, you also need to take into account the foreign currency commission charges your bank will make which, is usually in the range of 1-2%.

In other words…

Import Good = Goods Price + Foreign Currency Commission + P&P + Customs Charge + Admin Fee

So, as you can see importing isn’t cheap! But if you are undaunted and think it’s worth it, here’s a list of sites I’ve used

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Theme Hospital on a Modern Windows PC

15/12/2012 UPDATE

To save you the hassle of going through all these technical tweaks, try Corsix-TH instead. It is still in its early development stages so you’ll spot the odd bug but from what I’ve tried so far, it is easier and a lot more stable than using these tweaks and supports today’s modern screen sizes. No more funny colours and blurry graphics to look at!

It’s very simple to setup. Install your copy of Theme Hospital or simply copy the whole “HOSP” folder from the CD. Now install Corsix-TH and let it know where you copied the folder. Then you’re ready to run the game!

Would be nice to have the cutscenes ported over too such as the board and opening animation but, oh well. Keep up the great work, guys! =)

Been feeling like playing Bullfrog’s classic “Theme Hospital“. It really is a brilliant game despite being over 10 years old and I highly recommend you try it if you haven’t already! You run a hospital trying to cure humorous fictional diseases like “Bloaty Head” by popping them like balloons, “Slack Tongue” or “Invisibility”. Then there’s the receptionist announcing the odd lines over the intercom in a sarcastic voice like, “Patients are asked to be patient,” “Patients are here at their own risk,” or even “Patients are reminded not to die in the corridors” every so often. Some hospital, eh? The game still plays (and looks) amazingly well for its age.

However, it doesn’t look like it’s getting a remake any time soon even though Theme Park got one on the DS. I tried getting the Playstation version via PSN but it’s very poor, lacking music and has poor controls.

Eventually I decided to try and get the more superior PC version but the catch was, it’s so old Windows Vista and later isn’t supported. That said, there are ways you can get the game running if you look around such as using the legit DOSBox emulator. There have also been people who have suggested installing the legit Windows XP Virtual Machine provided by Microsoft.

Or, if you want to avoid the hassle of installing more software just to get Theme Hospital running in Windows 7 (or perhaps Vista too), here’s how to get it up and running on today’s PCs.

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World War Z in Glasgow | グラスゴーでの「ワールドワーZ」撮影 | 格拉斯哥的「世界大戰Z」

The production of World War Z has been underway in the city of Glasgow for the past few weeks. It’s a US$30 million movie based on a novel of the same name and stars Brad Pitt. Apparently they chose Glasgow over the real Philadelphia because of the tax breaks here which means it would be cheaper to film.

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Essential Android Apps

It’s been a while since I upgraded to an Android phone and I thought I’d share some of the apps that I find invaluable.

The downside I find with Android is there are fewer quality apps i.e. well designed user interface, few bugs and fulfils its goal well. And to top it off, they’re usually buried beneath a huge range of rubbish and spam because there is no approval process for developers unlike for Apple’s iOS. That said, I really like all the widgets available for customising the homescreens with and there are some great "Live Wallpapers" on the Market.

Note that these apps were installed on an HTC Desire. As Android phones have various combinations of hardware, they might not work with your phone.


3G Watchdog

A brilliant ad free little app that keeps track of your data usage with a small widget (top-right, in the left screenshot) to show how much of your quota you’ve used up for a set period of time. If you use a lot of ad supported apps or go online a lot then this is very much a must since some mobile service providers charge a premium once you are over quota..

3G Watchdog Widget     3G Watchdog

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AMP3 Player’s Surprise Santa Sack 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Readers! Up to anything this year?

Me, just some quality gaming time. As I mentioned before, I haven’t really had any time to game since starting full time work so these days it takes me a lot longer to finish a single game which is why you don’t see any reviews any more. However, it’s not a bad thing because it’s only now that I’m busy, I can appreciate these holidays and the weekends.

Anyway, I digress.

It’s that time of year again and I decided to try another “lucky bag” Surprise Santa Sack from – The kind that is supposed to be filled with random goods that adds up to more than what you pay.

Looks like they changed the bag this year and was offering bumper bags that let you know what was in them. I was actually considering against buying the original again because of the junk I got last year.

However, I gave it another go in the end and had a little pleasant surprise when I opened it.

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