Sunday, August 13, 2017

Twitter shows 안중근's bloody hand emoji for Liberation Day 2017

During this week, any tweets containing certain hashtags related to Korean Liberation Day will trigger a special emoticon to display: the bloodied hand of extremely famous Korean independence activist An Jung-geun.

Twitter promotion of the "Sliced Ring Finger" symbol. Image: Twitter

Here's that hand image up-close:

안중근 의사의 '잘라진 약지' 손도장 모양

Ahn cut off a portion of his own ring finger (the "잘라진 약지") as part of the "signing" of an oath to assassinate a very high ranked official of the Japanese occupation government -- an oath that he kept on October 26, 1909. You can read more about it on Wikipedia.

The emoji will display between August 11~16, 2017. You can trigger it by using one of these hashtags:

  • #광복절
    (Liberation Day)
  • #광복72주년
    (72nd Anniversary of Liberation)
  • #국가보훈처
    (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • #나라사랑
    (Love of country)
  • #독립운동가
    (Independence activists)
  • #대한민국만세
    (Long Live Korea!)

If you want to learn more about the contest held to design this special emoji, check the Twitter Korea blog.

Here's a photo of Ahn:

An Jung-geun.JPG
By Unknown - Japanese book "Japan-Korea Annexation and Korean Independence Movement" published by Roudoukeizai Sha., Public Domain, Link

So tweet your K-pride this week, and let your bloody finger fly.

Finally, you may remember Twitter also offered a special "fire chicken" emoji during Lunar New Year.

Read more ...

Monday, August 7, 2017

Links for April-July 2017

It's time for another link round-up. As always, if you follow me on Twitter, you probably already saw most of these. I should post these more often. This is a monster list.

Unlike today, Haeundae then was a rather remote village, almost an hour by car from the heart of Busan, where I worked as a translator at the Busan Cultural Center of the U.S. Embassy.
Shortly before noon, when we ― about 30 in number ― became a little tired with somewhat hard games under the warm sun and were ready for the picnic lunch prepared by some of the female employees, a police patrolman approached us and started talking with our group's leader.
The leader then shouted, asking us to return to the bus that brought us to the picnic site that morning. We all wondered what had happened and began to leave, some grumbling while others wondered if we had done something wrong.
It soon became clear when we returned to the bus why we had to give up the rest of our long-awaited picnic. Our leader solemnly informed us that earlier in the morning (June 25, 1950) North Korea launched a full-scale armed invasion of South Korea across the 38th parallel, which had divided the peninsula since August 1945.
Sunday clashes developed into full-scale war

According to SKB, there were initially two ways to connect to Facebook in Korea: via a direct connection to Facebook’s server in Hong Kong and via rerouting to a local cache server in Korea operated by local telecom provider KT ... Facebook currently pays KT to use its cache server ... SKB argued that Facebook deliberately cut off its link to KT’s faster cache server last December and has since been clashing over network maintenance issues. KT is currently the only Korean telecom firm that has set up a cache server for Facebook. Others, such as SKB and LG Uplus, have been accessing Facebook’s content using KT’s network. SKB has argued that Facebook blocked SKB from KT’s cache server, diverting its users to the slower Hong Kong server.
[News Focus] Facebook in dispute over Messenger app, network maintenance costs in Korea

Tip: be careful pronouncing "Easter" (부활). With a lazy tongue it comes out as 불알 which is a very different thing. Shock and laughs result.

SuperAction channel apparently celebrating Korean election with a "Good Presidents" marathon. Now: Air Force One. Next: Independence Day

What's the only drink size they allow in North Korea?
A supreme liter
What's the only drink size they allow in North Korea? : Jokes

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RSS feeds for the Korea Economic Daily

Here's a list of RSS feeds from The Korea Economic Daily (한국경제), a Korean English-language newspaper that focuses primarily on, you got it, the business/economics/IT.

This is just a copy/paste of their RSS feeds (from for reference, since feed links these days often disappear from frontpages despite the fact that they still work fine.

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Naver's "X-eye" will filter adult content from live broadcasts

Real quick here. You know, Naver has a lot of neat tech projects going behind the scenes. I read a bit about them but honestly most are too dull to write about here or just not of general interest to an English-speaking audience. But here was something that caught my eye.

Naver uses an AI technique called X-eye to filter adult content from image search results. Big deal, right? But in a recent blog post there was one paragraph that really caught me:

최근 이미지 필터링 관련해 이슈가 되고 있는 것 중 하나는 인터넷 방송에서의 음란 이미지 노출인데, 네이버 X-eye의 경우 증가하고 있는 개인 인터넷 방송 상의 음란물을 실시간으로 모니터링할 수 있다는 장점 또한 가지고 있습니다. X-eye는 곧 동영상 컨텐츠에도 적용될 예정인데, 그렇게 되면 영상의 각 프레임들을 추출해 이미지와 동일한 방식으로 실시간 모니터링이 가능해지게 됩니다.
AI를 활용한 실시간 성인이미지 필터링 시스템, 네이버 X-eye

So, this tech can process live video streams (internet broadcasts), checking frames for nudity exposure, and then block the feed (차단하다) if it goes into over-19 territory. That's pretty impressive tech. Definitely has some censorship and false-alarm sticking points, but imagine the possibilities of this kind of tech:
  • Parent monitoring software, to ensure your teen daughter's videochats with her boyfriend don't get too steamy.
  • CCTV live monitoring. Imagine training the AI to recognize dangerous objects like knives. Still shots could be relayed to precincts and officers dispatched potentially in time to prevent murders like this or even this
  • Scanning Facebook Live streams for people crying, who may be in need of help. 
I don't know, just blue sky thinking through this, but I wouldn't be surprised if these kinds of things become the norm soon. 

By the way, the system would still make use of a  human 검수자 (quality control inspector) to examine image stills flagged by the AI as potentially containing nudity to make a human determination. I can think of a few guys I know who would be perfect for a job like that. 

Update: Oops, apparently this isn't exclusive news. Just realized it was also posted on Pulse News a few days ago: Naver applies AI technology to filter obscene images online - Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea

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English tutoring gigs on a map

If you're looking for a part-time English tutoring gig, here's a neat site called KocoTutor. It displays current listings for English tutor positions in and around the Seoul metro area, but does it on a nice clean minimal Google map. screenshot

You browse the map, you click the pin, you read the details in the pop-up box, and you like it, you click "E-mail" to contact the customer directly. Neat idea if you're a teacher looking for gigs in a specific area, say near your home or near another gig.

I know these kind of job listing boards are a dime a dozen, but this one impressed me enough to throw up a quick post about it. Very convenient and organized. Beats trolling ▷▶Craigslist◁◀ or WorknPlay. The little pop-up boxes contain just the relevant info. No bullshit. And you click through them easily. OK honestly, I just love maps and clicking pins on maps to get boxes, so this thing was right up my alley.

You can do a text search too, but just clicking around the map is simplest. The text results are the same map listings, just in clean sort-able columns.

When you see something you like, click the "Email" link and it will bring up a filled-in mail like this:

Auto-filled application email

Note that right now these listings are all part-time gigs only, and listings expire after 12 days. The admin says you need to specifically register with this site to post an ad, and these are for legit customers or schools, not just dragnetting recruiters. So hopefully you can avoid some of litter of other sites.

Here's the link if you want to check it out:
→ Koco - Hourly English Tutoring Jobs Map

Disclaimer: The guy who made this site is a reader and sent me the link to check out. He seemed like a nice guy, eager to promote his project, so I said I'd do a quick post about it here. That was 6 months ago. I finally got around to it this week. 
You should see all the requests I get for how to get the most mundane K-pop related stuff, like "Ohmona, there was a BTS live stage on Mnet on 2017-04-23 where Suga changed a lyric and I only have the 720p plz how can I get the 1080p" and I sit there looking at these messages wondering if they're even speaking English. I feel for you, kids, but I promise getting an even higher resolution isn't going to make your Senpai 멋진오빠 notice you. 

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Naver Whale browser now in English

Naver's web browser "Whale" is now available in English.

As of the latest beta version, the browser interface is nearly 100% in English. I'm talking menus, settings, everything. Not only that, but the Whale Store is in English and the formerly-defunct English version of the Whale download site is back and totally revamped.

Naver Whale English download page. Image: Naver

If you've been curious about Naver's crack at a Chrome-based browser, here's your chance to dive in deep. But you know me, I love screenshots, so let's take a look.

Naver Whale browser in English

New tab page

Naver Whale - New tab page (Eng.)
Overall, it looks pretty good. Above is the new tab page. Not a whole lot there, but you can see the URL bar tooltips, as others, are in English now.

Context menus

Whale's context menu (Eng.)

All (right-click) context menus are in English. Now we can see that "Belli" really is the name of the "whale tail icon" built-in note storage app (Naver's version of Google Keep). I mean come on, obviously you're storing stuff in the "belly" of the whale, right? Maybe they just went for a stylization. Anyway have fun, Jonah.

Site translation via Papago

Built-in Papago translation of page to English 

Once you're set to English, pages in Korean (like this Naver News entertainment article) will show a little Korean flag in the menu bar, next to the capture tool. Click it, and the browser will offer to translate the page into your language (and give the option of always auto-translating). Here you see the icon is a US/UK flag, and the page has been fully translated.

I think this is really a key competitive feature of Whale, and likely the real reason Papago recently upped their character limit for translations. Good, because Naver's oldie Site Translator sucked. With this, Whale can handle smooth and accurate Korean-to-English translations on-par with Chrome. I can see the legions of loyal K-pop/Hallyu fans adopting Whale en-masse now. Let's see if my prediction proves right. You read it here first.


Whale sidebar Music Player gadget

The little widget/mobile site tools in the Sidebar got translated too, including Belli and Bookmarks and even the Music Player. This is another feature that could potentially be attractive to K-pop fans. I don't have an account with these services so couldn't try it. My friends and I have, *cough*, other ways of getting music. Ahoy.


Whale settings page in English

All the settings are in English too. Here you can see the language settings. They're all like this. Go ahead and dig deep. You can see the dreaded "Plugin compatibility mode" there for all your online banking .exe and Active X files. There are a very few minor elements still in Korean, but I promise you won't even notice them.

Whale Store 

Whale Store in English

Even the Whale extensions store got an English facelift, and noticeably more extensions since the last time I checked it out. See that extension there about popular girl group Twice? Did I mention I think K-wave fans are going to be interested? Otherwise, I don't see many real stand-outs here, but it does now offer extension import/export. I don't have time to see if Chrome extensions can be manually added (some, like Google Keep and Google Calendar, can't be added via Chrome store). I doubt anyone cares too.

How to set it to English

Before you complain that yours is still in Korean, note that you're going to need to make sure you're running the latest version ( beta). I was still running 9.34 so didn't have the language change option.

If you're already running Whale in Korean, there's no need to download a new installer. Either wait for it to auto-update, or visit the info page (whale://about/) and it will download the update and show a button to restart the browser.

Whale "About" page: update downloaded and ready to apply

If you're a Mac user, that's it! It will automatically change to English based on your system language settings. Damn you, Apple users, and your simplistic ways.

If you're part of the PC master race, then after you've updated:

  1. Go to Settings > Webpage > Language (of course in Korean it's 설정 > 웹페이지 > 언어).
    Or if you're using Whale right now just go to this link: whale://settings/webpage#language-setting
  2. Drag the English (영어) option up to the top of the list. Not American English (미국영어), just the plain basic English. 
  3. Click the 3-dot menu icon on the right
  4. Click the checkbox (it says to set this language as the browser interface)
  5. Restart browser (you can easily do it by clicking the 재시작 후 적용 message that appears)

Changing the language settings

By the way, you may notice that under the 언어 추가 setting you can add a large variety of other languages. These are pretty useless right now (they just indicate to the website which version of a page you prefer; it doesn't affect the browser). But it's possible the corresponding interfaces could be added later. Maybe we'll see a Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, or Spanish version of Whale soon.

Why use Whale?

Over on Reddit, there was talk about why somebody would want to bother using this Whale browser, instead of Chrome. I'll repost it here, edited it a bit for clarity.

It really depends on your browsing habits. You might prefer Whale if:

  1. You do a lot of online banking, shopping, or appointment reservations in Korean on Korean sites. Whale has a special "compatibility mode" that helps facilitate plug-ins designed for IE to run on this Chromium browser. Another called "Swing browser" had this feature too. If you're just a normal expat just accessing your bank account, and your bank offers a Chrome plug-in or some .exe file, then you might be OK. But many more minor Korean shopping sites don't have anything like that, so Whale can fill in that gap until all Korean sites go plug-in free (don't hold your breath).
  2. You prefer Papago over Google Translate. Papago is actually decent and has potential. Again, it's more a personal preference.
  3. You really like multi-tasking. I'm fine with just keeping YouTube/Facebook in another tab, but I have to admit having them pinned on the side is helpful when they're essentially acting as background noise anyway for me. And for doing internet research, it helps to be able to take notes right there in the sidebar while seeing the page you're on.
  4. You use the Naver ecosystem already anyway, so all your visited sites, bookmarks, and logins are already synced there.

Whale has a specific audience in mind. It's not going to be a Chrome killer, but it can be a worthwhile Chrome replacement for certain users (i.e. mainly real Koreans). The English version can be a ploy to get more international K-pop fans into the Naver ecosystem, which can then data-mine their history/bookmarks for serving up ads, since that demographic is sometimes obsessed with buying Korean goods.

Download Whale now

If you don't have Whale yet, you can download it from the English download site here:

Or click the cute button bellow.

The installer will run in English, so no problem. Once installed, you can create and sign-in to a Naver account to sync all your settings. All of that in English. Boy, times have changed.

By the way, did I mention Whale may find a receptive audience among K-wave fans? Well Naver seems to agree and ran an entire little SNS contest to encourage (Korean) fans to K-popify their Whale installation

More about Whale

If you want to know more about what Whale is and what it can do, you check out some of my other recent posts:

Or these news sources:

Read more ...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Naver Whale browser running outdated Chrome engine

I'm generally a fan of Naver's new browser Whale, especially since it's based on Chromium. I figured it would be quick to receive crucial security updates. But while fooling around last night I noticed that the browser engine is out of date. 

Screen cap from Whale info page

Whale lists itself as up-to-date in the Whale info page (whale://about/) on Whale version beta. Sounds good, I guess.  

But curiosity got to me and I checked a profiler site to see what data was publicly visible regarding the browser, which included the specific browser engine version: 58.0.3029.110

Whale browser engine version. Source.

The site also pointed out that this made my Chrome installation out of date, so checked the Chrome Release logs to see when that version was applicable. It was released (or at least, announced officially in a blog post for the stable channel release) on May 9, 2017. 

Chrome release post for that version. Source: Google

The most recent stable Chrome engine release, meanwhile, is (at time of this blog post) version 59.0.3071.115, listed as released June 26, 2017

Digging through the Whale Changelog release notes shows that version 58 of the Chromium engine was incorporated into Whale build beta on June 29, 2017. 

Whale change log capture

So there were 52 days between the release of v58 and its incorporation to the Whale code. 

Meanwhile, it's been 23 days since the release of v59, but it's not been added as of this blog posting. 

Now don't get excited. Please note that this is just to inform you, the potential user. Security patches are pushed out all the time, and 50 days is pretty good compared to using IE 11. And note that the other big Chromium-sourced browser, Opera, is also still running engine 58 in its latest version (v45). This is not a huge security issue for the average user, but something to bear in mind. Plus Whale is still in beta anyway. 

For me, Whale's biggest problem is that by default, mouse middle-clicks open in the split-screen Whale "Spaces" thing instead of a new tab. Click behavior inside Spaces is unpredictable too, or else I'm too stupid to figure out the logic behind it. Maybe a little of both. 

Read more ...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Most popular Korean YouTube videos for first-half of 2017 (excluding K-pop)

YouTube released a list of overall top videos for Korea for the first-half of 2017. In other words, these are all Korea-originating videos that were popular worldwide. The list obviously included lots of K-pop stuff (#1 K-pop song of the year so far is Twice's "Knock Knock"). But you can read about those on other sites like here or here. I'll just give you the links to the non-K-pop stuff.

Worldwide most-viewed Korea-produced children's videos

  1. 토이마트 TV ‘Go Go Super Wings, Tayo School is Under Attack by Monster Bugs’
  2. 밀라나 TV ‘Tayo be careful! Tayo Bus in Real Life. Tayo bus falls into River.’
  3. The Little Bus Tayo ‘Tayo the Little Bus is coming with SEASON 4!’
  5. JOUJUYOUNGTOYS ‘[콩순이의 율동교실 2기] 25분 풀버전’
  6. 뽀로로 ‘[뽀로로와 노래해요 3기] 50분 연속보기’
  7. 서은이야기 ‘엄마 내차 그만 좀 타세요!! 전동 자동차 타요 버스’
  8. Toy Jelly ‘Learn Colors with Clay Slime Ice Cream Surprise Cups’
  9. Super Wings ‘[출동 슈퍼윙스] 시즌2 제 1화 - 쿵후 소년과 우주 괴물(홍콩 편)’
  10. TOY GUMA ‘구체관절인형 리나슈슈 폼폼버니 멜리사 박스개봉’

Overall worldwide most-viewed Korea-produced videos (excluding kids and K-pop)

  1. JFlaMusic ‘Ed Sheeran - Shape Of You ( cover by J.Fla )
  2. 1MILLION Dance Studio ‘Shape of You - Ed Sheeran / Lia Kim Choreography
  4. BANGTANTV ‘[FESTA 2017] BTS (방탄소년단) Jimin, JK 'We don't talk anymore’
  5. Things Craft ‘Monster School : BabySitter Part.2- Minecraft Animation
  6. 네티즌 수사대 자로 ‘세월엑스’
  7. Mnet Official ‘쇼미더머니6 프로듀서 싸이퍼
  8. Alien Being ‘Villager & Witch Life 1 - Minecraft Animation’
  9. 밴쯔 ‘I really wanted to eat ramen...5 Samyang ramen! Mukbang
  10. 허팝 ‘방탈출하기! 이상한 방에 갇힌 허팝은 탈출에 성공할 것인가?!’

I always feel like there's a better way to say those headings. "Korea's most popular videos among an international audience?" "Internationally-popular Korean videos?" How would you say 전 세계에서 가장 많이 본 국내 인기 영상? "In the whole world, most viewed domestic popular videos."

Normally I might go through and give a few lines of commentary on these, but the payoff wouldn't be worth me clicking this crap to take a look. So just a shameless copy/paste job today. Plus I hate Ed Sheeran. Weird looking ginger bastard. 

Read more ...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Top Korean searches for first half of 2017

Google released a list of their top Korean search results for the first half of 2017. It's in Korean but I rewrote the list here with my added commentary, and links where appropriate. 

종합 - Overall (Top 20) searches for first half of 2017

  1. 너의 이름은 - Your Name
    Extremely popular Japanese animation film. Many viewers watched it multiple times. 
  2. 도깨비 - Goblin
    K-drama with the highest average viewership among cable channels
  3. 오버워치 - Overwatch
    Highly popular multiplayer shooter game which retained its popularity since last year's list
  4. 문재인 - Moon Jae-in
    Presidential candidate and now President
  5. 리그 오브 레전드 - League of Legends
  6. 원피스 - One Piece
  7. 무한도전 - Infinite Challenge
  8. 아는 형님 - Knowing Bros
    Popular entertainment chat show with men telling it like it is
  9. 박근혜 - (Ex-) President Park Geun-Hye
  10. 던전앤파이터 - Dungeon Fighter
  11. 마인크래프트 - Minecraft
  12. 미세먼지 - Fine dust
  13. 진격의 거인 - Attack on Titan
    Japanese animation 
  14. 리니지M - Lineage M
    Popular for copying the game style of the PC version onto mobile. Ranked #1 on Google Play when it was released. 
  15. 트와이스 - Twice
    Popular K-pop girl group. Released 4th mini-album "Signal." Korea's #1 representative girl group right now
  16. 설리 - Sulli
    Former member of K-pop girl group f(x), and current actress and Instagram celebrity. Appears in a nude scene in recent crime thriller movie "Real."
  17. 프로듀스101 시즌2 - Produce 101, season 2
    Male cast version of last year's popular K-pop girl group reality producing show
  18. 라라랜드 - La La Land
  19. 엠마 왓슨 - Emma Watson
  20. 홍준표 - Hong Jung-Pyo
    Unsuccessful presidential candidate for the conservative Liberty Party. Nicknamed "Korean Trump" for his occasionally unfiltered style

인물 - People (Top 10) searches for first half of 2017

  1. 문재인 - Moon Jae-in
  2. 박근혜 - Park Geun-Hye
  3. 트와이스 - Twice
  4. 설리 - Sulli
  5. 엠마 왓슨 - Emma Watson
  6. 홍준표 - Hong Jung-Pyo
  7. 안철수 - Ahn Cheol-soo
    Unsuccessful presidential candidate for the progressive People's Party
  8. 아이유 - I.U.
    Released her 4th album called "Palette"
  9. 설현 - Seolhyun
    Member of K-pop girl group AOA, and active drama actress
  10. 공유 - Gong Yoo
    Lead actor in recent "Goblin" TV series, classic older series "Coffee Prince," and where I know him from as the main dad in the very well done zombie flick "Train to Busan."

Read more ...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Korea air quality measurement suspension, July~Aug 2017

A large number of air quality reporting stations around the whole of Korea are down between July and August 2017, i.e. right now. So if your favorite air quality monitoring app/widget has been failing to update lately, it may not be the app's fault.

 Notice of air quality reporting suspension. Image: Air Korea

Air quality measurement devices temporarily out of service

This is according to a notice on the Air Korea website, which is the source of most apps' data (including Google's air quality cards, which are now defaulting to a station several km away from me instead of my local one). 

During this period numerous data stations will be temporarily suspended due to a variety of reasons, including maintenance, upgrades, relocations, etc. Each individual station has its own issue and timeline. Some will be back up and running in a few days, some not until the end of August. Check their post (in Korean) and find your local station, and it will explain what precisely is happening. Note that the notice is grouped by maintenance to be performed, not by geography. Here's the link:

AQICN down

Via Reddit, I could notice that the site, whose app has a nice minimal widget, has lost all data for South Korea. Perhaps it's related to this outage, although Naver, several Korean apps, and even my Google card are still showing updates for the nearest functional stations, so I'm not sure why the AQI site shows nothing. Hopefully it will sort that out and be up soon. 

Replacement app suggestions

In the meantime, try bookmarking Air Korea's mobile site (may need to manually tell it where you are; the GPS location didn't work for me for some reason), or check the Naver air quality card.

If you prefer apps with homescreen widgets, the app 대기오염정보 which has a nice simple widget and alerts for particular sources of pollution. I like it better than most other apps, as the widget gives just simple data, but the app itself will show precisely whats causing the pollution, along with some basic weather data:

대기오염정보 can appear a bit complicated, and it's in Korean.

For a nice and very simple/minimal English air quality app that is working in Korea right now, try BreezoMeter. It gives you just a cute elephant and averages the overall quality (note that they seem to show a percentage scale: 100% is perfect air, 0% is chunky air soup. Mine shows air at 33% right now. Not good). No in-depth pollution details, but if you just want to know, "is today's air quality good or bad?" then this is a good app.

Read more ...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Naver Whale browser gets Extensions store

Naver's Chromium-based browser "Whale" now has its own extensions store. You can easily install Whale specific extensions from the page.

Whale extensions store. Image: Naver

Right now, the offerings are a bit bare, and focused on the sidebar feature of Whale. They include things like:

  • YouTube sidebar player
  • Line Messenger 
  • Video player for Pooq, Naver Music, Genie, Mnet (all Korean TV/music streaming services)
  • Facebook "ad free" sidebar browser
  • a webpage highlighter
  • Train ticket purchasing macro
  • etc
That train ticket purchasing macro I think is the "most Korean" of the bunch. When you are desperate to buy Chuseok train tickets, like every other sucker out there, let this macro handle the hassle of repeated clicking at just the right time when tickets go on sale. It will keep trying, and present you with a victorious trumpet blast if successful. You may recall Swing Browser, another Korean homegrown browser, had a similar feature.  

Obviously not a whole lot here, and most are really just loading the mobile versions of sites in Whale's sidebar. But don't forget that Whale can also install Chrome extensions from the Chrome Store. Although vice-versa seems not true: I couldn't get Chrome to install these Whale extensions. 

Check out the Whale Extensions Store here:

And if you feel like trying your hand at making your own Whale extensions, Naver's got you whale well covered. Check out their Whale extension development guide, and register to be a Whale Store developer, here:

Finally, for a more in-depth look of Whale browser, see my other post:

By the way, Whale browser was supposed to be released in an English language version, but I haven't seen any further updates on that, and their former English landing page now 404s. So don't hold your breath.
And that was completely wrong. Whale is now released in English. See here.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Naver's "SmartLens" visual search tool

Naver has released their own visual search tool, called Naver SmartLens (스마트렌즈), which lets you point your phone's camera at a real-life object and get back search results from it.

Promo image for Naver SmartLens. Image: Naver

It functions similarly to Google Goggles. SmartLens will detect a variety of real life objects and bring up various similar results and keywords, which can be narrowed down (in the image) by the user.

It's not a stand-alone app. It's part of the normal Naver search app. Just tap the camera icon in the  normal search bar, to bring up all the other search methods: by music, voice, Chinese/Japanese characters, QR code, or now SmartLens. You'll then be able to snap a new photo, upload a photo already in your gallery, from cloud storage, your blog, etc.

Official examples of SmartLens features

SmartLens keyword results and 'narrowing down'. Image: Naver

Notice on the right, the widest view of the image of a room was selected, and the 3 returned keywords were:

  • interior
  • chair
  • dresser ("서랍장" was a new word for me)

Similar images are displayed below the keywords. In the middle picture, we focus on just the chair, and get:

  • chair
  • fabric sofa

Now we can identify the chair from among the returned similar results, and the left picture shows that chair result, as:

  • chair
  • IKEA
  • 1-person use / single
Cool, now I know to go buy it from IKEA, or likely right online the IKEA website, which I'm guessing is where the chair-only image came from.

If Naver's AI recognizes the item itself, you won't have to go fishing for it like this. It will automatically bring up appropriate content. For example:

Contents Cards in SmartLens results. Image: Naver

Here, SmartLens recognized the dog as an English Springer Spaniel, and the building location as Shanghai. It even identified that coat, including its price and where to buy from.

Other news articles I read about SmartLens suggested that this (the shopping connection) was its real purpose: you see a cute one-piece on a K-drama, and you just have to buy it, so you Naver Visual Search it, and a few clicks later, it's yours. Everybody wins, and capitalism rejoices.

My test of SmartLens

This wouldn't be 10원 Tips without a bunch of screenshots, so let's take a look at how SmartLens functioned for me in real life today. It's available in the Naver app (both Android/iOS) right now. I got the update notification just tonight, so you may need to update yours. It will come to the mobile site version later.

Screenshot times have been tastefully blacked out. (I'm supposed to be working, but snuck into the meeting room. Let's see what we find in there.)

SmartLens board marker example

Board marker test successful. Interestingly, the keyword for board marker disappeared when I "focused" on the marker itself, but the related images clearly indicate what it is. You can either use SmartLens's own suggested "border" of focus area, or resize the square yourself. 

SmartLens oil diffuser example

Diffuser basically worked, but I don't know if calling it a perfume is exactly right. Somebody ought to change that thing. It's running low. But hey, that's not my area. 

SmartLens mug example

Yes, it's a mug. That second related image was exactly right. Though it just leads to a blog post about that particular Corelle mug. I thought the shopping results might come up, with this or especially with the board marker. 

SmartLens Cliffs of Moher example

I had this in my gallery still, since its my phone's current background. It correctly identified it as the Cliffs of Moher. Tapping the keywords here brought up Naver card results (similar to Google's Knowledge Graph card results).

SmartLens speaker example

Speakers check out. But wrong type returned. Again, mostly blog results. No shopping results?

SmartLens Kakao Friends example

It knew these were emoticon characters. I'm surprised it didn't know they're from Kakao (maybe I should have shown it Line characters). It did know this is for a birthday greeting, though. 

SmartLens stapler example

The stapler test failed. It kept alternating between thinking its a mini vacuum cleaner, or an iron, depending on focus box.

Overall not bad. Very handy. This is one area where I feel like Google is running behind. The Goggles functionality should have been incorporated into the main Google search app a long time ago. I guess they're just relying on us voluntarily sharing all our photos with them into Google Photos.

Of course on the other hand, Goggles is pretty good at extracting text from snapped photos. SmartLens, meanwhile, never did seem to catch on to any text, Korean or English.

Anyway give it a try and let me know if you get any shopping results. Here are the main Naver app links where you'll be able to use SmartLens:

UPDATE: Realized too late that Aju Business Daily did a piece on this already: Naver starts test service for AI-based image search
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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Set Naver as default Chrome (Android) search engine

You can set your Android phone's Chrome browser to use Naver for all default search results.  Any queries you type in the Chrome URL bar will bring up Naver results, and highlighting a term in another app and using "Web Search" from the three-dot pop-up menu will also search Naver.

It's very easy to set-up:
  1. Visit Naver
  2. Search for literally anything
  3. Open Chrome's top-right "three dot" menu
  4. Choose "Settings"
  5. Choose "Search engine"
  6. Naver will now be a listed choice.

Here's what you'll see in the settings:

"" option in Chrome Android's search engine settings

That's it! Actually, this works with basically any search engine, including Daum.

You can see I also did this with, which not only protects your privacy, but ensures a fully English-language Google experience no matter where you physically are. Good for folks in Korea who get sick and tired of having to always manually tell it to stop using the domain (or when you're logged out and it reverts to Korean as you're in Korea).

For desktop browsers, you also want to see:
→ 10원 Tips: Set Naver as your browser's default search engine

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Add a Naver share button to your site or blog

Just like Facebook and Twitter have special social sharing buttons you can add to your blog or website to share the page to those services, Naver has a simple sharing button for one-click sharing to either a Naver Cafe or Pholar (Naver's sort of G+/Instagram type photo sharing service).

All you need to do is add a short piece of code, and you'll get a little green Naver "N" box (looks great next to a blue Facebook "F") that opens a share dialog when clicked. The button looks like this:

Naver share button image

Code for the Naver sharing button

Here's the official code to add:

 <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
 <script type="text/javascript">
 new ShareNaver.makeButton({"type": "a"});

Pretty easy. You can customize the size by changing that "type" value from "a" to anything from a~f. The sizes look like this:

Naver share button sizes

What it does

Clicking the button will open this Naver share dialog, letting you choose whether to share the page to a Cafe or Pholar. You'll be asked to log-in after choosing if you're logged out.

Naver sharing dialog. Really meant for Naver blogs, but you can use it technically anywhere.

A good alternative: Naver sharer bookmarklet/link

If you want to use this official Naver method, be my guest. But you'll notice that the sharer, like with Facebook or Twitter, is really just a glorified link. You don't need to call a Javascript just for that (unless you're interested in the SEO or tracking aspects).

So you could also just put the cute little green "N" image on your site and have it link to this:


Same basic functionality. Heck, if you're obsessed with sharing things to your Naver Cafe then you could drag that code to your browser's bookmarks bar and use it as a bookmarklet. No Chrome extension required. Since it's a bookmarklet though, the URL is potentially subject to change, but I doubt it ever will so just go ahead.

Example: Adding the button to Blogger's default share buttons

For now, here's an example using the official Naver code, not my alternative. You can add the N button anywhere in your blog/site, including as a sidebar widget (HTML widget). But on Blogger you can also integrate it right into the into the other sharing buttons that appear in your post footers, so that it will look like this:

Naver share button in Blogger default sharing buttons

To do this, add the code from above into your blog's template (Theme → Edit HTML). Find the following line:

<b:includable id='shareButtons' var='post'>

In this section, paste the code. You can arrange it by placing it between the correct button codes. For example, I placed it between the Blogger "Blog This" button and the Twitter button in the image above. So my template section looked like:

<b:includable id='shareButtons' var='post'><b:if cond='data:top.showEmailButton'>
<a class='goog-inline-block share-button sb-email' expr:href='data:post.sharePostUrl + &quot;&amp;target=email&quot;' expr:title='data:top.emailThisMsg' target='_blank'>
<span class='share-button-link-text'>
<b:if cond='data:top.showBlogThisButton'>
<a class='goog-inline-block share-button sb-blog' expr:href='data:post.sharePostUrl + &quot;&amp;target=blog&quot;' expr:onclick='&quot;, \&quot;_blank\&quot;, \&quot;height=270,width=475\&quot;); return false;&quot;' expr:title='data:top.blogThisMsg' target='_blank'><span class='share-button-link-text'>
<span><script src='' type='text/javascript'/><script type='text/javascript'>new ShareNaver.makeButton({&quot;type&quot;: &quot;a&quot;});</script></span><b:if cond='data:top.showTwitterButton'><a class='goog-inline-block share-button sb-twitter' expr:href='data:post.sharePostUrl + &quot;&amp;target=twitter&quot;' expr:title='data:top.shareToTwitterMsg' target='_blank'><span class='share-button-link-text'><data:top.shareToTwitterMsg/></span></a></b:if>

You'll then want to style it a bit, so I suggest adding some CSS (Theme → Customize → Add CSS) such as:

img#naver { width: 20px; height: 20px; }

Limitations in Blogger

You can do the same for mobile views, however you can't integrate it directly into the Blogger share menu here (not on mobile, and not in the four newest Blogger responsive themes. We don't have access to edit those). However you can still manually add it to the template besides that share menu if you really want to.

Naver share box on Blogger mobile templates

But in my experience this only shows on certain mobile browsers, and importantly, not Chrome for Android as of now. So just use my "alternative" method. Just do it.

Actual Examples

Below are real examples to demonstrate. First the actual Naver code. You should see the green N and it should open share dialog. If you don't see anything, the your browser is probably blocking this javascript call.

Now here's just the image, linked to my alternative share URL. This should appear/work, no matter what:

 Share to Naver

For more on using Naver's share code, and their various APIs, see:
→ NAVER Developers - 네이버 공유하기 개발가이드

Finally, some articles you might like:

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Naver's Whale browser (Mac version beta) released

Good news for Mac users in Korea. Naver's Whale browser, a sturdy Chromium-based internet browser steeped in the Naver ecosystem and already out for Windows PCs, is now available as a beta download for macOS versions OS X 10.9 and above.

Here are some promo screenshots:

Whale browser in macOS dock. Image: Naver

Whale browser on an iMac and Macbook. Image: Naver

If you're unfamiliar with Whale, see my previous post where I go in depth and offer more screenshots than you can handle.
→ 10원 Tips: Naver's Whale browser - my thoughts and a screenshot tour

I haven't used a Mac in at least 10 years, so I won't be able to try it out and post the results here, but you can download it yourself, either at the official download page, or cheekily via this direct link to the .dmg file:

Note that the Mac version is still a beta and there may be bugs.

Read more ...