Getting free stuff from stickers on beer cans

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Posted by jamie | Posted in -Featured-, Coupon Codes, Shopping | Posted on 23-05-2009

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If you live in Japan, you may have noticed that most beer cans have a little sticker on them that you can collect, stick on a special flyer along with your address and a 50 yen stamp, and be entered into a draw or just get something for free. It’s not just beer either, a lot of the products here run special point promotions that involve cutting out the labels or barcodes to get free stuff, you just need to look at the packaging a bit. If you tend to buy a certain product then check the manufacturers website for current campaigns / promotions, you’ll be surprised how many they usually run. Before I start, let’s do a quick poll on how many of you have actually bothered collecting these things before.

[poll id=”2″]

What can you get for free or win?

Varies. In the past, we’ve got a cool little shopping bag from Pasco bread stickers that we use everyday now; some small bowls from another random bread company I don’t remember; I’ve had a couple of crates of beer turning up on my doorstep; 1000 yen prepaid gas cards from Gillette… But the real horde is yet to come – since my girlfriend started working in a bar last month, she’s been bringing home beer can stickers every night and we’re sending out a couple a week! I’ll guess we’ll know if was all worth it in the coming months. I’ll be sure to post here with updates.

Filling in the form:

Here’s a breakdown of the form you’ll need to fill out for those of you lacking in . Writing in romaji is fine. I’ve noticed that not all supermarkets tend to stock these special campaign flyers, so you may need to shop around a little. For beer stickers, most liquor stores will stock every kind of flyer.

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Don’t forget to stick a 50 yen stamp (be careful not to waste an 80 yen one like I have before) and post it off.

You may also need to fill in how many entries you want. The key kanji you’re looking for here is “mai” 枚 and “kuchi” 口. MAI is the number of stickers you need per KUCHI, or entry. So, choice A may be 「24枚1口」(24 sticker for one entry) and choice B might be「6枚1口」(6 stickers per entry). You need to do your own math and write down the number of entries on the postcard if you are able to enter more than once on one flyer.

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This Asahi summer campaign has four different choices of competitions to enter. Each one has a different number of stickers for one entry. If you really really want one of the products, you can also pay an extortionate amount of real money AS WELL AS collect half the usual stamps and they’ll just assume you won, but that’s a little ridiculous – the point is to get free stuff here.

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This is for Pasco bread products, it’s actually an old photo and as I mentioned earlier, we got a good quality sturdy “eco-bag” from this campaign that we use everyday now. We didn’t even have to send this one off – just take it to a participating supermarket.

Final word:

If you’re a fickle shopper like me who doesn’t mind changing brands of coffee or bread everytime there’s a new promotion, you can get some really cool stuff for free. The stickers on the beer cans are always worth collecting even if you don’t drink alot – the actual stickers don’t have an experiration date, but the flyer does, so keep them stuck on your fridge if you don’t think you will collect enough in time. It’s also quite inexpensive but effective anti-retail therapy for those of you who like to shop to relax!

Please let me know in the comments if you’ve ever won anything off of these kinds of promotions, I’ll be very disappointed if you none of you have even bothered. Free stuff people, come on!

Also, if you’d like to enter one of the promotions but you don’t understand part of the flyer, feel free to ask away in the comments or mail me a picture of it to [help] AT [gaijinstuff.com] and I’ll see if I can clear something up for you.

Guide to Safe Torrenting: Mac OsX

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Posted by jamie | Posted in -Featured-, Uncategorized | Posted on 09-05-2009

I guess this a little off-topic from the usual money-saving strategies, but lately I’ve been hearing from a lot of people who have received letters from their Japanese ISP with regards to having downloaded something illegal from the internet. I’m not going to get into the legalities of downloading movies and software here; let’s save that for another post. I would however like to show you exactly how you can protect yourself from ever getting a nasty letter threatening to cut off your internet if you don’t leave those torrents alone.

The Theory:

Firstly, let’s look at the reasons why you’re getting caught, and then I’ll show you exactly how to set up your torrent clients to make you safer:

1. You downloaded from an evil peer: Torrents are a peer-to-peer network – that means that rather than downloading from a central server, your file is coming from 1 or more other people on the internet (usually quite a few). Believe it or not, there are evil companies out there that are paid by the RIAA and movie corporations to infiltrate the peer-to-peer torrent network and pretend to have the movie you’re looking for. They advertise themselves on the torrent network, and then you when you connect to them and attempt to download the movie from their computer, they record your IP address. Then it’s just a simple case of sending a letter to your ISP saying “IP address x.x.x.x attempted to download movie X, here is the proof”, and your ISP takes it from there. This is the single biggest reason you will get caught. What can you do? Don’t worry. There are kind people on the internet (hackers) who make lists of these evil companies and all their evil computers, and it’s pretty simple to use these lists to make sure you don’t ever go near one of those evil computers. Essentially, we can set your computer up to automatically get a blacklist of evil peers every day, and that’ll make you 99% safer instantly.

2. Your ISP is spying on you: You have a constant stream of data coming in and out on your internet connection. Your ISP can of course look at this stream of data, and can tell pretty much what you’re doing. If you’re downloading a movie via torrents, they can tell – they might not be able to tell what movie it is, but they can tell that your downloading it via torrents. This isn’t usually a reason to worry, as most ISPs don’t go around spying on their customers for fun – but if you’re constantly streaming an above normal amount of data, then they’re going to want to know why. If they flag you and find out you’re downloading movies, or even hosting your own high traffic web-server, you’re likely to get a threatening letter.

3. Bandwidth limits: You may have a 100mbit connection, but that doesn’t mean you can use all of it all the time constantly. If everyone did that, your ISP would go broke in a second. That’s why many ISPs in Japan and America are implementing certain limits that when you go over them will either automatically cut off your connection or set off a red flag for further investigation somewhere. In America these limits are ridiculous – something like 20gb a month in some cases. Luckily, this is Japan and the limits are actually quite reasonable, but you should be aware of them. My own ISP for instance – “OCN” – has an upload limit of 20gb per day, which isn’t really a limit at all. However, they did send me a warning saying that if I went over that limit, they would be consequences.

Even if the worst happens, and you get a warning letter, you still have 2 chances left (in most cases), so don’t panic quite yet.

How To Protect Yourself: Mac OsX

I recommend and will be teaching you how to do these steps with a native OsX torrent client called Transmission. It’s the fastest and easiest to use in my opinion, and it has all the functionality we need to make you 99% secure in your torrent downloads.

Once you’re installed and set up your download directory, go ahead and open up the apps preference panel. If you’d prefer a visual guide to this, there’s an HD video below of myself explaining the steps involved.

1. Click on bandwidth tab. You’ll notice you can turn on a limit for both upload and download if you need to, but you’ll have to find out your own ISP limits. If you’re living in Japan, chances are you don’t have a limit but I would still recommend setting one so you don’t set off any alarms. As my own upload limit is 20gb/day, I have my upload speed set at 200k/s, which is more than enough. If you are constantly downloading then I would really suggest you turn on both an upload and download limit, or you may find yourself racking up terabytes of bandwidth (at which point, it is pretty much non-profitable for your ISP to keep providing you with internet).

2. Click on peers tab. On the part that says “encryption”, check both boxes for “prefer encrypted peers” *and* “ignore un-encrypted peers”, all your torrent traffic will be unidentifiable by your ISP. Your outgoing traffic is automatically encrypted by Transmission, but by setting these you will ensure everything coming in is too.

3. On the bottom of the same tab it says “blocklist”. You’ll need to download a list of bad IPs before you can turn this on, so go ahead and click on “update” button. It may take a few minutes. Then enable the other two checkboxes for “block bad IPs” and “update weekly”.

Congratulations, you’re now safe! Happy torrenting, and good job on choosing OsX!

If you’re using windows and you’d like a video walkthrough too, let me know in the comments and I’ll put one together. The steps are basically the same, but Windows requires some extra software to do the bad-peer blocking so it gets a little more complicated.

Institutional Waste: The English Department Buffet Lunch

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Posted by jamie | Posted in Trash | Posted on 09-05-2009

I am continually shocked at the amount of waste produced by institutions such as universities and schools, especially when one would expect the minds at the forefront of society to be the first to change the wasteful habits of humanity. Last week, our department held it’s annual freshman seminar, which basically means a bunch of speeches by students who studied abroad, a big buffet lunch, topped off by badly designed and very not fun “get to know your teachers” game. Not once was I consulted regarding the event, which is a shame since I ran a series of very popular childrens camp programs and have rather a lot of experience with event planning. It seems to me that so very little thought was put into the event, it’s such a shame when something wonderful could have been done.

The buffet lunch – the primary consumers of which I should say were 18 year old girls that tend to watch their weight very carefully – consisted of huge tables of random cold pizza, cold burgers and sandwiches and other finger foods. Very typical affair with sub-standard food, but the proportions were shocking. The portions were piled high and it was quite obvious from the start that no one would be eating that much. In fact, it seems it was planned on from the start – one teacher had even had the forethought to bring plastic trays for everyone to take home leftovers. Here’s what I brought home, sorry I didn’t take any pictures of the actual tables of food – but imagine about 5 times this amount PER PERSON being leftover and you’ll get the idea. That’s for 100 or so people, by the way.

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Really, it made me sick to think that so much money and so much food could be wasted – I’m sure these girls aren’t paying extravagant tuition fees to have them frittered away on horrendously bad quality food and blank videotapes

Not only was the food wasted, but the opportunity to make an enjoyable event that might be remembered by the freshmen for the rest of their university career was wasted by failing to consult the rest of us.

Submitted to Food Waste Friday @ FrugalGirl. Frugal Girl is one of my inspirations for starting this site, so do please go check her out.