Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Naver Maps coming in English for 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics


I tweeted earlier about how Naver Maps (and Kakao Map) will release full English versions of their apps coinciding with the upcoming 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics:

Naver intends to release an English version of its map app at an unspecified date, and will build on user feedback to also release a Chinese version. Kakao will likely release an English version in December, and will also upgrade its Kakao Navi to provide voice navigation in English.
Naver, Kakao to Release English Map Apps Ahead of Upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics | Be Korea-savvy



That article seems to be citing a Korean-language Yonhap News article source, which was actually the only article I could seem to find about this. And that quoted paragraph you just read above is literally all the info that's public right now, as far as I can tell. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, here's a nice thorough English guide to using Naver Maps:
🔗 [S. Korea] How to Use Naver/Daum Maps to Find the Fastest Route to Arcade Stream (or Anywhere) | Smashboards

Read more ...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Naver Blogs get new Instagram style theme on mobile


Title says it all. Naver Blogs has a new theme called Album View that makes users' blog posts appear as little square thumbnail images that coincidentally mimics the look of Instagram.

Naver Blogs Album View. Image: Naver

I actually really like it. It's like an refreshed, updated version of Google Blogger's "Flipcard" or "Snapshot" dynamic templates. They have another one too for writing-focused blogs. Click the link in the picture caption if you're interested.

Naver has done a good job of keeping blogging relevant in Korea. Some people criticize Koreans' reliance on blogs for information, but come on, like citing Wikipedia is much better, or that random thing some guy said in a Facebook group.

Plus, from my tinkering, most Naver Blog desktop templates are pretty bad. Mobile ones look good though, which you can set from the app, in much the same way as the Wordpress app. But nobody cares about this stuff but me so </post>.

Read more ...

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Twitter shows a 달토끼 (Moon Rabbit) emoji for Chuseok 2017


Little bit late on this, but if you hadn't noticed, Twitter is now displaying a cute emoticon of a rabbit silhouetted in front of a full moon, to celebrate the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) harvest festival.

Examples of the Moon Rabbit


Here's an example from SK Telecom:

SK Telecom wishing you a HAPPY #추석. Image: Twitter

That's mildly funny. They're making a pun, which literally says "The thick rich smell of ham frying up... I'm sending you a happy Chuseok!" but "happy" and "ham frying" sound similar in Korean (햄볶 vs 행복, hambok vs. hengbok basically). Like I said, a mild and safe joke for a corporate entity to display. Throw in some innocent fresh faced male idols, and bingo, you've got a winning business tweet.

How to activate it


To activate it yourself, just tweet with one of these hashtags:

  • #추석 (Chuseok)
  • #한가위 (Chuseok in old Chinese naming style)
  • #보름달 (Full Moon)
  • #MidAutumnFestival
  • #Chuseok 

But do it quick, because this will only work from Sept 29 to Oct 9 so you've got three more days.

I did a quick check of the hashtag page myself just to look for another sample. Here's one from Virginia politician Ed Gillespie who clearly knows his state's demographics.

Chuseok well wishes from @EdWGillespie

Completely unrelated, but it was pointed out to me that until the recent Las Vegas shooting tragedy, the biggest lone-wolf type mass shooter in US history was in fact the Korean who perpetrated the Virginia Tech massacre. I didn't check the stats though.

Anyway here is the icon it is bringing up:

Image: Twitter

Why a rabbit?


You might be wondering: what the heck does a rabbit have to do with Chuseok?

Well, Chuseok is based on the lunar calendar so always falls on the full moon, and there's an old Korean legend that the features of the surface of the moon, when seen from Earth, look a bit like a rabbit making 떡 (rice cakes). See the comparative illustration here showing what cultures saw. Basically just like Westerners saw a Man in the Moon, Koreans and apparently several Asian nations saw a rabbit. See, Asians have been doing the whole cute kawaii/kiyomi animal thing for centuries. Boring Westerners and our bland ideas.

UPDATE: the Google Doodle shown in Japan for this Chuseok features the Moon Rabbit making rice cake.

Google's Japanese Thanksgiving doodle. Image: Google

From their explanation:
Today’s Doodle depicts the legend of ‘Tsuki no Usagi’, the rabbit who lives on the moon. Japanese folklore tells the story of the Old Man of the Moon, who wants to know the kindest animal. He disguises himself as a beggar and asks for food. The monkey brings him fruit. The fox brings a fish. But the rabbit, unable to find anything but grass, offers to jump into the fire to feed himself to the Old Man. Thus the rabbit proves himself to be the kindest and is taken to the moon, where he now lives. If you look hard enough, you may be able to spot his long ears as he bends over his pestle, grinding moochi (rice cakes).
Mid-Autumn Festival 2017 (Japan)


Other Twitter Korea emoji


Add this to the list of other Korean holiday emojis Twitter has been showing, including some I posted about:



Thanks for reading. Happy Chuseok folks.
Read more ...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Cute Chuseok images from Kakao Friends


Here are six adorable wishing-you-well images for you to send to your Korean friends this Chuseok, courtesy of your favorite Kakao Friends.




Wishing you to spend each day of this Chuseok full of blooming happiness with your loving family!


Wishing you a spirit as bountiful (strong, healthy, bright, etc.) as the full moon, all the rest of the days of this year! 



Wishing all your desires/wishes come true this Chuseok!  


Wishing you a Chuseok as full/bountiful/plentiful as the bright full moon! 


These are all pretty flowery language, so I tried to strike a balance in my translations between accuracy and English understanding.

Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving, is a harvest celebration, so you'll notice the common theme among these is something about the bright full moon (upon which Chuseok is based). In Korea, the fall full moon is symbolic of a bountiful and plentiful harvest, so most of these are some variation on that theme. Personally, I think the last one is my favorite. For the most pleasant Chuseok, get stuffed!

All images sourced from: 
Read more ...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Twitter ups character limit to 280 but not for Korean


Interesting post from the official Twitter blog today. They crunched the numbers and scientifically came to the same conclusion anybody who tweets in Korean had already known: you can say a lot more in 140 characters of Korean than English.

Twitter's character limit counts one Korean character, which is really a whole syllable, as one "letter." Meaning you can actually cram in 140 syllables in Korean, but just 140 letters in English. Consider how my name, Sam, would take up 3 of your 140 limit in English, but 샘 takes just 1. That's a savings of 300%! Or something.

Anyway, in regards to this consideration, Twitter is holding back its new raised character limit from the CJK languages.

Here are the two relevant quotes from their official blog post:

We're going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean).

We see that a small percent of Tweets sent in Japanese have 140 characters (only 0.4%). But in English, a much higher percentage of Tweets have 140 characters (9%). Most Japanese Tweets are 15 characters while most English Tweets are 34.
Giving you more characters to express yourself

They include this handy illustration that shows the character count of the same tweet in 3 languages:

  • The English version uses 140 characters
  • The Spanish version uses 154 characters
  • The Japanese version uses 67 characters


Image: Twitter


Twitter posted the same content on their Korean langauge blog too. Here are those same two tidbits for your Korean friends:

트윗 글자수에 더 많은 제약을 받는 언어권을 위해 280자로 트윗 제한을 늘려보는 것입니다. (위에서 설명드린 이유로 일본어, 한국어, 중국어권은 이번 시도에서 제외됩니다)

일본어 트윗의 경우 0.4% 만이 140자 전체를 활용합니다. 영어 트윗을 보면 훨씬 높은 비율은 9%가 140자 전체를 사용하고 있습니다. 일본어 트윗 중 가장 많은 비중을 차지하는 글자수는 15자 이내인 반면 영어 트윗은 34자입니다.
트윗 글자수 확대에 대한 우리의 생각

You will notice that they focused on Japanese for their examples. But the same thing is true in Korean.

Consider for example these headline pairs from article translations in the Chosun Ilbo. Assume you were going to post these on Twitter. How would they compare? Both headline pairs are identical in English and Korean:

Prosecutors Seek to Extend Park's Detention (43 characters)
검찰, 박前대통령 구속 연장 요청 (18 characters)

Fitch Rating Firm Assess N.Korean Risk (38 characters)
피치 '북한 리스크' 평가 위해 訪韓 (20 characters)

In each case, the Korean version conveys the same information in much less space. So apparently Twitter feels it's unnecessary to bump up the limit. Makes sense I guess.

This could all be a moot point anyway, since it seems like most Korean newsmakers take to Facebook rather than Twitter. I don't even like Twitter anyway. I never forgave it for what it did to RSS.

Read more ...

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Daum Mail app gets major update to v.3.0


The Daum Mail app got a major overhaul this month. It's updated to version 3.0 and basically looks and works a lot more like the Google Inbox app now. Here are a few promo screenshots from the official Daum blog to get a look.

Daum Mail app promo screenshot. Image: Daum

Daum Mail app promo screenshot, showing new email list style, and attachment adding and previewing. Image: Daum

Among the new features are:
  • Cleaner, sleeker style
  • Attachment previews
  • Set reminders
  • Quick replies
  • Kakao Friends emoji

So, basically Inbox without the cute characters you know and love.

For reference, here's what the old app used to look like as version 2.0 rolled out:

Daum Mail app v.2. Source: Daum

Anyway I don't use Daum at all, so I can't tell you anything first hand. I'm just passing on the info.

Download the Daum Mail app here if you're curious:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.daum.android.mail

Read more ...

Find Starbucks in Kakao Map, get a free drink coupon


If you've opened KakaoMap recently, you've probably seen this pop up:

KakaoMap 1st anniversary Starbucks promo 

KakaoMap 1st Anniversary Event


Just like they did back in July to celebrate the launch of KakaoNavi, Kakao is now celebrating their first anniversary with a free Starbucks drink

What you'll need


You'll need both the KakaoMap app, and the Starbucks app. You'll also need to be logged in to your Kakao account in KakaoMap, and be a "My Rewards" member in the Starbucks app. 

Don't worry if you don't have a Starbucks My Rewards card yet. It will give you a chance to make one, though I've never done that in Korea so I don't know how easy/hard a process it is. I'm one of those sickos who either drinks the 200 won vending machine coffee or else pours himself a nice stick of Maxim Mocha Gold from the giant Hefty bag they sell. 

What to do


Here are the official details in one giant infographic (click it to view it full size and up close), then I'll mention more about it.

KakaoMap Starbucks free drink instructions. Image: Kakao


How to get your free drink


Here's what you'll need to do to get your free Starbucks drink. This is all in the infographic above so check the imagery there if it helps. I'll just outline it here.

  1. Open KakaoMap
  2. Either tap on one of the Starbucks logos you'll see there, or else do a search for a nearby Starbucks (you can just type "Starbucks" in English).
  3. Do a route search to get directions to a Starbucks, any Starbucks
  4. A pop-up will appear (I just tried it; verified it works) with a button to click to open your Starbucks app
  5. Log-in to the Starbucks app, and a special event button will appear there to get your coupon

Details


  • Don't forget you'll need to be logged in to both apps.
  • If you already have a Starbucks My Rewards card, it will add one "star" (whatever that is) to your account.
  • If you're making a new card, you will get an e-coupon for either a free tall drink or a tall Americano.

Event duration


  • Monday Sept 25 ~ Sunday Oct 1 (so hurry up).
  • Winners will be notified by Tues Oct 17, 2017

Enjoy!


These kind of gimmicks seem like more hassle than they're worth. But if you've already got the Starbucks app up and running here, then it doesn't hurt to just download KakaoMap, do a single search, and boom, free credit. Erase it after that if you want .

Anyway just passing on the info.
Read more ...

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Howdy Mr Trump! Funny Korean banner supports US action against NK


I found this amusing banner over on Reddit this morning:

Korean conservative banner supporting Pres. Trump  

It reads:

양아치는 정치인 개잡놈들! 한넘도 믿을넘없다
북핵 공포로부터 보호 받을 수 있는 길은 미국뿐이다.
Hi Mr. Trump! 머하노?
Just bomb North Korea. We Korean believe you.
- 구국 동지회 / 부산 애국 연합

Just for fun, let's go through it piece by piece.

양아치는 정치인 개잡놈들!

양아치 is a great word. It's usually used to refer to bullies, gangsters, thugs, punks, etc, but it means something more like "trash" or "beggar" or "piece of shit." A 잡놈 is a mixed blood person, which of course is itself offensive (no comment...) and adding 개 or dog intensifies it. So basically, the sign is addressing these piece of shit mangy mutt politicians in office today. And you thought Trump's "bad hombres" comment was harsh.

As a sidenote: "mutt" doesn't seem to pack the same punch in English. So maybe something like "halfbreed" would suit it better? With two centuries of multiculturalism, I feel like these insults don't strike Americans as strongly as they do here. We're not talking N-word status, but this is pretty darn insulting.

한넘도 믿을넘없다

A straightforward "not a single one of you can be trusted!" Many of these hardline supporters feel that the current liberal government has too close ties to the North, and are essentially secret communists.

북핵 공포로부터 보호 받을 수 있는 길은 미국뿐이다

There is only one single way to be protected from the terror of 북핵, presumably 북한 핵폭탄, North Korean nuclear bombs. That one single way? 'MERICA!

Hi Mr. Trump! 머하노?

The message suddenly get friendly now that they're addressing a perceived ally instead of political enemies. This was one of those weird dialect terms I didn't know. I had to ask around and apparently it's a Gyeongsangdo version of 뭐해요? And of course Gyeongsangdo is the heart of the conservative party in Korea (and not coincidentally, where this sign was displayed). So what would a heavily accented deep Red Stater say for a friendly "How are you?" or "what's up?" I'm going to go with "howdy!"

I'm also going to assume that they are using 믿다 in the English in the same was as the Korean, so more like "believe in" or "depend on" or "trust" rather than just "believe".

- 구국 동지회 / 부산 애국 연합

The sponsors of the banner are the 구국 동지회, literally the "Save the Country Party," a.k.a. Korean Tea Party, a.k.a. Make Korea Great Again, and the 부산 애국 연합, the Busan Patriotic Association.

So putting it all together, we can translate the whole thing like this:

HEY YOU TRASH MUTT POLITICIANS! NO ONE CAN BE TRUSTED.
THE ONLY PROTECTION FROM THE TERROR OF THE NORTH'S NUKES IS AMERICA!.
Hey Mr Trump! Howdy!
Just bomb North Korea. We Koreans trust you!
 - Busan Patriots Parties

Now I'm not a political expert, but if you ask me, I think a lot of these guys are still especially upset with how the whole impeachment of former President Park Geun-Hye went down. Still, one thing's for sure: you won't ever find people as staunchly devoted to America's superpower status as elderly Korean conservatives. And to be fair, there's a deep seated reason for that gratitude and trust. Whether that attitude is still applicable to modern Korea, or to modern America, could be another story.

But can all agree this poster is funny.

Read more ...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Incheon airport real-time arriving passengers location display kisok


Incheon International Airport has installed screens in the arrivals lobby that display, in real time, the location of arriving passengers, to give you a more accurate idea of how long until your party will be walking out the gate.

Think of it like Harry Potter's Marauder's Map.

Background: I just now noticed it


For some background, I was over at Incheon airport earlier this week to pick somebody up. While standing at the arrivals gate, a kiosk screen caught my eye that I hadn't noticed before. Tucked a short ways back from the arrivals gate, sort of in the middle 90 degrees from the normal smaller flight info boards, was this screen. I assumed it was just another timetable board showing all the flight times and gates. But when I took a closer look, I noticed it was more.

Shot I took of the airport real-time arrivals kiosk. Sorry for the low quality. 

What it shows you


This thing shows a real-time map of all arriving flights and passengers. You can see:
  • Animated airplanes circling above the 3D airport rendering, labeled with flight names. 
  • The airplanes land, and taxi, and reach their gates.
  • Little colored stick men, representing the arriving passenger groups, wander the various stages of arrival on the airport map, labeled with flight names.
It dawned on me then how convenient this is. Instead of standing around mindlessly watching hoards of people coming through those doors like a chump, I could see right on this screen the progress of the stick man labeled with my friend's flight number. When the stick man got close to the final gate, I knew it was time. Sure enough, his passenger group came out within two minutes.

Arrivals Location Guide kiosks in service a year already


I must be slow on noticing this, because it looks like it came out over a year and a half ago, though I don't see anything about it in English news media. Maybe I just don't know what to call it. The Korean article calls it a 입국여객 수속단계별 위치 안내 디지털사이니지  or just a 도착승객 위치안내. "Arrivals Location Guide" sounds good.

Anyway my photo stinks but here's a good clear close-up.

Arrivals Location Guide. Image: Korea Duty Free News 

There are 5 "steps" the kiosk will display:

  1. 착륙 전 - Pre-touchdown, still in the air
  2. 착륙 - Landed, taxiing to gate
  3. 탑승구 도착 - Plane arrived at airport gate, passengers disembarking 
  4. 짐 찾는 곳 - Baggage claim area
  5. 입국장 도착 - Arrivals hall, aka will be walking out the door any moment


Why is this useful?


This could be very convenient in a few situations, like:

  1. You arrived a few minutes late to pick up your buddy. Damn. Did he come through yet? Is he just wandering around? Check this kiosk. Ah, he's still at baggage claim. Phew. 
  2. You arrived on time, but you're starving. Do you really need to stand here scanning the faces of every traveler, or do you have time to grab a bite at that nice noodle place? Check the kisok. Ah, he's just deplaning right now. He'll be at least another 10-15 minutes. Time to get my grub on. 


More real time info


If you crave real-time data, add this to your arsenal of real-time Incheon airport data, along with:


Read more ...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Korean news site pop-up advertisements getting out of hand


Tonight I was reading some of the Korean news top stories, and saw an article about another teenage girl assult, this time in Cheonan. What struck me most of all about the story wasn't the news itself, but the absolute barrage of ads when I clicked through to it. 

Korean news article, full blown ads. Image: Newstown

It's my fault. I was accidentally still using an Incognito tab from working on the previous post. Boy was that a surprise for someone who routinely uses adblocking software. What a jungle. You can barely tell there's an article underneath. 

For comparison, here's what the same article looked like when I opened it in a normal browser tab.

Korean news article, squeaky clean. Image: Newstown

I wrote about some decent Korean adblock lists before, but uBlock now includes a couple of Korean filters automatically. Set it and forget it. That's what yielded the results above.

By the way, I run ads on this blog's sidebar. I was curious if I could wet my beak a bit from this hobby. The money earned is negligible at best. It couldn't even buy me a cup of coffee each month. Well maybe some vending machine coffee. No Frappuccinos, that's for sure. I do it for fun, and hopefully to help others out. So to be frank, I don't care if you block them or not. Not like I'm going to call the kettle black.

Read more ...

Replace the "Location" tag in Blogger Dynamic Templates


Here's a very easy way to replace the "Location" text in the location geotag of your Dynamic Views post.

Blogger ignores what you specify in the Layout section and reverts to a plain "Location:" label. But a few lines if CSS can fix that and make it look better. In this example I'll change it to a push-pin location point style. Scroll down for the code.

Editing the Location geotag in Blogger Dynamic Templates

Background: Ugly label


I still like using Blogger's Dynamic Views templates for certain projects. For example, the "Snapshot" theme makes a good Instagram substitute for my crappy nature shots (family and friends only; sorry readers).

I like that Dynamic Views will display the post's location tag, but I didn't like how ugly and plain it was. Just a big fat "LOCATION" which you can't edit. It looks like this:

Normal Dynamic Templates location tag

I wanted something similar to how G+ handles location tags, with a simple and minimal pushpin beside the address and link.

Although in most Blogger templates you can easily modify the label that accompanies the geotag, this doesn't work for Dynamic Templates. However adding some simple custom CSS is an easy workaround.

Add this CSS code to your blog 


Go to (Template → Customize → Advanced → Add CSS) and paste this code:

.geolocation-info {visibility: hidden;}
.geolocation-info a.url.fn {visibility: visible;}
.geolocation-info a.url.fn:before {content: "📍 ";}
.article .article-footer {text-align: right;}

The last line is optional. I think it looks better moved to the side.

That 3rd line adds whatever symbol or text you prefer. I added the pushpin, but you can change it to anything,  like "I was at ". Be aware if you choose something too long, the spacing will be off and it will take a lot of CSS fiddling to fix it. So just choose something short.

Now your location tags will look like this:

Modified Dynamic Templates location tag on desktop

Modified Dynamic Templates location tag on mobile

It's a tiny detail, sure,, but was bugging me.

This is only for Dynamic Templates. All other normal themes won't need this because they will respect whatever you specified in the (Layout → Posts) settings.

Read more ...

Links for Aug-Sept 2017


It's time for another link round-up. Stuff I was interested in this month.


Techie stuff





Society / Culture  / Etc. 





Links with a picture










Quotes


The purchase of air purifiers from China grew the most of any item. In the first half of 2016, only 7,141 air purifiers were bought online from China. That figure jumped to 78,750 between January and June this year, an 11-fold increase.
Online foreign buying booms-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

Ha, so China is making a killing selling air purifiers to clean the air that China polluted while making... air purifiers? This isn't supposed to be how the cycle goes.

There is no doubt that Yeosu, with its beautiful shoreline and exotic dishes, is a cool city to visit. Even so, a recent tourism boom there has many people scratching their heads, including those who promote tourism in the city.
Mysterious tourism boom in Yeosu

Yeosu is a great little city, and I think it's cute that they claim not to know why people why to visit it. Bold marketing move, because now I want to visit even more.


Finally, here are two articles (Korean) about a topic that grinds my gears. Many Korean portal sites block search engines from accessing and indexing their content. I don't mean scraping content from rival portals, I mean governmental, corporate, and education portals. Sites that exist specifically to distribute useful, sometimes vital, information. This public information languishes behind these no-robots restrictions.


Thanks for reading. See you next month.
Read more ...

Friday, September 15, 2017

Naver Cloud worldwide location map


Naver Cloud Platform has recently opened a new data center in Germany. Naver's own global services like Line and V Live can run through these centers, plus CDN business customers can utilize it, and normal Naver users can store their own files in it. Anyway I just thought the map was cool. It gives a clearer picture of how Naver isn't just a Korea inward-looking company, as some cynical minded folks like to write it off as.

Naver Cloud platform worldwide data center locations. Image: Naver

So that's centers in:
  • Korea
  • Japan
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Singapore
  • USA West Coast
  • USA East Coast
  • Germany

The Germany location is targeting not just Europe, but Africa and the Middle East. Here are some English language links to learn more about Naver Cloud:
And if you're bored and a huge nerd, you can monitor their data centers' real time latency measurements here.

Read more ...

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Naver Disco app and Chrome extension


Disco is a new content discovery app by Naver released a couple months ago that's sort of like Pinterest but includes news and blog items. Basically you upvote/downvote stuff in your feed, but it then becomes more customized over time, and your interests will help connect you to similar-minded people. And build a huge potential advertise profile of you, probably.

Naver Disco app. Image: Korea Herald


I don't need to say much because it looks like it got a write up in the Korea Herald:
The Korean internet giant Wednesday announced the release of Disco, which is short for the “discovery” of selected content tailored to individual tastes, according to Naver.

Upon opening the Disco app, users can set their topics of interest based on which the app will recommend certain types of content on the web. By clicking “like” or “dislike” on the content that appears, users allow the app’s engine to study their personal preferences.

Based on this information, the app’s engine will recommend tailored content to users with added accuracy and matching ability as time progresses, Naver said.

Naver introduces AI-based content curating app ‘Disco’

But it's not just news they throw at you. The Disco feed is meant to reflect your personal interests, so there's also a Chrome extension you can use to manually add any items to your own collection. So I said it's like Pinterest. I guess. I've never actually used Pinterest.

But once you've added stuff and up/down voted stuff, it builds a profile of your interests that then can correspond with others to see what percentage of interests you have in common and which particular interest you both seem to be the most interested in. Interests!

Disco recommending potential friends to you. Image: Google Play

You'll end up with a personal profile page (below, left) that people can choose to follow to get your "pins" too. You can even preview how likely you are to like their likes. For example, it looks like Miru here is following (below, right) Orani with whom she has a 93% match! Both of them like interior design! Ermahgerd, they need to be friends!

Disco user profiles pages. Image: Naver

You'll need a Naver ID to sign up. You can grab the Chrome extension over on Disco's landing page for it [Chrome 확장 프로그램으로 DISCO를 더욱 편리하게], or straight from the Chrome store [DISCO - Chrome Web Store]

Disco Chrome extension screenshot from Chrome Store

You can get more details (Korean) here:
클로바 팩토리 블로그 : 네이버 블로그

Read more ...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kakao Map shows bicycle routes with elevation, calories, and route preferences


Kakao Map keeps getting better and better. The app interface was already released in English, and now they have added some nice customizations to the bicycle directions feature.

Kakao Map bicycle directions. Image: Kakao

It can route your bike ride one of three ways:

  1. Bike path priority (자전거도로 우선) - route your ride so that it makes most use of actual bike paths
  2. Shortest distance (최단거리)
  3. Most comfortable (편안한길) - i.e. route with the least elevation gain 


It also shows the estimated calorie burn of the route, and a quick map of elevation along the way.

If you look at the promo photo above, you'll see a small elevation map at the bottom of the first screen. The possible routes are shown on the map, with the pink one designating actual bike paths (Han River Bank route, from the looks of it, which is indeed a nice cycling route if you can avoid the loitering people at certain intersections who can't understand the concept of a bike path), and the blue your basic streets or sidewalks. So if you don't want to die, stick to the pink.

This could be a nice update because one think I used to dislike about Naver Map's bicycle route feature was that it wasn't really a bike route at all. It would always recommend streets I knew to be dangerous for cyclists, with no bike lanes and even no sidewalks. Let's see if Kakao's recommended routes are any better. I used to get out biking a bit, before I let the beer and snacks have their way.



Read more ...

Papago translations connect to Naver dictionary



Real quick, a nice recent update to Naver's translator app Papago now lets you click on translated words that will open the page on Naver Dictionary so you can compare the nuance.

Demonstration of clicking through to definitions page in Papago. Image: Naver

I like this idea. One thing I dislike about the Google Translate app is that it doesn't always do a great job of indicating the actual meaning of the translated word. Sometimes it shows a list of synonyms but especially in Korean when a word can have multiple very different means it's nice to click through and see exactly which is right.

Read more ...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Altools site hacked


Oh boy. If you were already suspicious about that bloated software suite called "Altools" which you often find installed on most Korean computers still running IE10 and Windows 7, then you're going to love this.

Alyac 알약 description. Image: ESTsoft

Their company homepage (ESTsoft, 이스트소프트, so really "East Soft") got hacked and hackers made off with a huge list of user IDs and passwords. Oops. Not great for a company that markets itself as an internet security leader. They have an English site at http://www.estsoft.com where you can download most of their tools, but the Korean site at http://www.estsoft.co.kr is where you'll notice a company apology letter about the incident. 

Screenshot from CNet article about Altools hack, showing company apology letter. Image: CNET

The scary thing is Altools includes a variety of programs. Least risky is Alzip, their compression tool. But they also offer an anti-virus program and a password manager. Most locals are probably familiar with 알약, and if you've noticed a little pill icon in the Windows tray of your ancient school computer that probably hasn't updated its definitions in months, you'll know this program. 

Anyway, I doubt this will affect many English readers of this blog, but something to be aware of since I didn't see it reprinted in English language Korean news. Hacks happen, but maybe remind your girlfriend that her laptop should probably have a more robust security in place. My personal beef with Altools is just that it's so bloated and takes long to do otherwise basic tasks, like unzipping a file. Anyway read more (Korean) at the link:


By the way, ESTsoft is also the house that brought you the Swing Browser and the portal site that you forgot still existed, Zum
Read more ...

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Korean guy impersonating subway announcements


Since I'm sharing dumb videos today, here's another I thought was impressive. This guy mimics the voices of the subway announcements at Hongdae Station, in all four languages.


Well, he clearly doesn't exactly speak all four languages, but that just adds to the humor. Pretty impressive. Ignore the belly jiggle at the beginning. I mistimed the video.

Note: This video is an extract from a longer series of clips at  지노HighlightTV - YouTube
Read more ...

Ma Dong-Seok parody bleach commercial


This was too funny not to share. One of my favorite actors, Ma Dong-seok (마동석), was in a commercial promoting a bleach product.

Ma Dongseok suggests the powerful punch of Yuhan-Clorox. Image: 파란쥐의 빌레쿨라

The shtick is that the product is as powerful as Ma, who is a bulky guy and typically plays a gangster role. As a result of his typical genre, there is a lot of dialog out there of him threatening, abusing, and generally saying some not-so-nice things in Korean.

So of course, some clever netizen spliced together bits of lines from his movies into the original commercial, turning it into a shocking NSFW (unless you use headphones) insult-fest. If you've got the sense of humor of a middle school boy, get ready to laugh as he minces no words about how feels about you using this product.


I won't bother explaining it all. If you've spent any time in Korea, you'll get the gist of it. Google some Korean curse words if you're really lost.

One thing I like about this, beyond the 초딩 humor, is that it really illustrates an idea I had the other day: that Korean curse words deliver the most "bite" when spoken very condescendingly, emphasizing the speaker's looking down on you, rather than just screamed. But I'm not a native Korean so don't take my word for it.

Anyway, you may notice Ma from any of his wide variety of films, probably "Train to Busan" being the latest, where he's a tough guy with a soft heart. He also makes a cameo in "Veteran". Both are great movies. I even liked "Midnight FM." I haven't seen all his movies but chances are if he's in it, it's decent.

Note: This video is an extract from a longer series of clips at  지노HighlightTV - YouTube

Read more ...

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Whale browser theme store open


In addition to their extension store, Naver's Whale browser now has opened a Whale theme store. Applying the themes basically just changes the wallpaper on your new tab page, so it's also referred to as their Wallpaper store.

Whale browser Theme/Wallpaper store screenshot

Remember that you can "skin" the browser with a variety of themes by default, plus you could always just use your own photos, so to me this isn't all that useful.

There is a Dokdo theme, because of course there is, but sadly somehow I couldn't apply it. In fact, I couldn't apply any theme at all. The "enable" button was grayed out on all themes for me. Maybe a bug? Maybe they knew I was facetiously trying to install it? Who knows.

KOREA'S DOKDO theme on Whale theme store screenshot

Anyway, check out the theme/wallpaper store here:
https://store.whale.naver.com/category/theme

By the way, the Chrome/Chromium engine for Whale has been updated to version 60 now. My Google Chrome installation is currently at version 61, and since I'm using the x64 build it's beta anyway. So it's not exactly 'out of date' anymore. Nice to see their keeping it ship-shape. Vastly preferable to IE11, after all.

They've also added Air Quality info to the mini weather report on the new tab page. Nice little touch to keep an eye on it.

Read more ...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

How many people have visited Seoullo?


Just how many people have visited Seoullo 7017 - the horribly named elevated garden walk near Seoul Station constructed from an old overpass? It depends on which news outlet you ask.

Conflicting visitor numbers in headlines about Seoullo

Looks like either 3.6 million visitors, according to Yonhap and the Korea Herald's reprint:



Or  3.8 million, acccording to the Hankyoreh and Dong-a Ilbo:


Who cares. I'm surprised anybody wants to visit that monstrosity. I guess I just found it amusing that the liberal-leaning paper is one rounding up. Of course they are: this was a Park Won-Soon production. The slight numbers discrepancy is reflected in Korean headlines too.

I know this is minor as all get, but stuff like this amuses me. I'm always curious how the tone might vary between Korean articles and their English translations. Breezing through headlines to make snap observations like this is way easier. Any reason Korean Hani specifies 3.8mil in the headline, but English Hani bumps it to "near 4 million"? Are the translators fishing for good publicity? Am I insane for overanalyzing this? Probably a bit. 

Read more ...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Mastodon in Korea


Real quick here, I was just surfing around a bit checking out Mastodon (open source decentralized Twitter alternative) . I wondered what the Korean adoption of it was like.

Korean users on Mastodon. Image Source.

Is it popular in Korea? No, no it's not. But its popularity has slowly risen over the past year. 

Mastodon use in Korea. Source.

Numbers in Korea seems to fluctuate between 700~900 users. Compare that to nearly 1 million in neighboring Japan. 

Most populated Korea instance of Mastodon. Source.

  1. The most "popular" Mastodon instance (≈local server, sort of) is called Twingyeo (트잉여), at https://twingyeo.kr, even though a domain lookup says it's hosted in Japan. It holds 492 users (as of this post), so about half of all South Korean users. 
  2. The second most popular is Sakaba at https://sakaba.space which appears to be running in Japanese yet a lookup indicates it's from Busan, South Korea. Both appear to have userbases heavily from the otaku demographic. Some have been to the Google offices. Neat. 
  3. Coming in 3rd was https://chorus.space with 48 users.

About page for Twingyeo.kr Source.

I'm not surprised by the type of users, since Mastodon is still a fringe techie thing. There are a few Korean articles, but not much. Here's a Korean-language sign-up guide but you can follow along with the screenshots:

Finally, this article suggests why Japan has so many users:
Hint: lolicon

Will I use Mastodon? No. Should you? Probably not. Neat idea, but I just don't realistically see it ever gaining traction in the real world. 

Read more ...