Sunday, May 29, 2016

Radiolab's episode on K-poparazzi

A bit late, but this weekend I was catching up with some podcasts I like, and by chance found that the well-known Radiolab did a show back in February on K-pop. I gave it a listen. There's certainly nothing new there if you're familiar with Korea at all. You can get a decent text summary of the show here

Here are just my two-cents of reaction, as a guy not all that into K-pop. 

A professor they interviewed made a comment that the overall style and image of many K-pop groups is taken straight out of manga (Japanese style comic books). I can definitely see that especially in the boy groups. A lot of their outfits and styles are just completely impractical and impossible to wear outside, but fit right at home in wild J-gothic style comics. 

Image: mamaa
Come on, those hairstyles belong in the panels of a comic, not your shitty part time job at the CU. They must spend an hour at least in the makeup chair. I wonder if this manwha styling of boy groups is a tactic to allure the youngest female fans into the K-pop consumer group, milking as many years out of their fan loyalty as possible. Girl groups have the whole bright/cute thing for female fans, and those legs for days for the male fans of any/every age. 

Another interesting tidbit: when the trainee girls are living in the entertainment company dorms, part of their fitness routine is to be out hiking the mountains around Seoul at 5am. Well damn, I ought to get my ass out of bed. I always figured the mountain at 5am was strictly ajusshi territory, but if a youthful Girls Generation type group is there, I ought to rethink it. 

Here's a term I wasn't familiar with: "black ocean" when the fans all shut off their phone and glowstick lights, to show disapproval of whatever artist is on stage and did whatever minor insult that drives crazy fans against them.

I had known about the whole Ailee nude photos scandal, but had not realized that it was only the English-language Allkpop website that had posted them publicly. Their news reports really are the lowest quality, and half the time their "translations" of hot issues get several details wrong. Nobody should trust them for "news" so I'm not that surprised that it would be them. I've seen them, by the way (a quick search brings them up, not that hard, pun intended). Nothing special. Typical grainy low-res style from digital cameras back then. Always glad I'm old enough that no photos of me are circulating out there (trust me, nobody would want to see them anyway).


Well there you have it. If you're bored give it a listen but like I said if you're familiar with Korea at all, there's nothing new. I'll embed it below just in case. 

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Friday, May 27, 2016

KEB banking app will change to Hana app

Alongside the banking service suspension coming up real quick (June 4~7), the smartphone apps will be changing over to Hana too. Here I'll let them tell it:

The existing KEB Smart Bank app will be discontinued June 4 at midnight (00:00). It will then be replaced on June 7 by a new multilingual 'Hana 1Q Bank Global' app.
Note: 'Hana 1Q Bank Global' is different from the existing 'Hana 1Q Bank' app, which supports Korean only.  
To continue using Smartphone Banking:
Install the new 'Hana 1Q Bank Global' app from your iPhone or Android app store on or after June 7, when it is released; Then delete the 'KEB Smart Bank' app from your phone.
iPhone users will need to re-transfer their digital certificate from their PC to their phone after downloading '1Q Bank Global.  Android users will not need to re-transfer a certificate.
Note: (Former) Hana Bank customers now using the Hana N mini app will be asked to update that app to the new Hana 1Q Bank Global. 
[KEB Hana Bank for Expats | Changes to Smartphone Banking]

I bolded that part because, like an idiot, I installed the Hana 1Q app just now and spent a good 20 minutes trying to find the damn English setting.

Here's the actual post from their Facebook:

And what the heck, since I'm in a copy-paste mood anyway, they've also got a post up on how to contact KEB-Hana Bank by phone using several Asian languages including:

  • Myanmar (Burmese)             010-2725-1947
  • Vietnamese        010-9339-6892        
  • Bengali                010-9339-9173
  • Chinese               010-9339-1132
  • Indonesian          010-9331-0751
  • Tagalog               010-9339-7639 
  • Thai                      010-9339-9041
It seems like I'm just copy-pasting stuff lately from KEB's Facebook page, but this is important information and with Facebook's wacky algorithms, some people might not have seen it.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Black reaction faces on Facebook are cute

If you use the Chrome extension Dark Reader (which I highly recommend) to apply a dark theme to your browsing, Facebook's new reaction faces emoji change to darker colors also. I actually think they look cuter this way. 

"Dark Reader" theme applies to Facebook's reaction faces
Yes, this is what I do on a Saturday night. 

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Gas explosions got me all fired up

Not sure if this was intentional or not, but looks like "gas explosion" was the phrase of the day today.

Multiple gas explosions took place at a United States military base in South Korea's southeastern city of Chilgok on Thursday, local firefighters said. The incident took place at around 2:30 p.m. inside Camp Carroll, located some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
[Korea Times | Gas explosion at US military base in S. Korea Posted : 2016-05-19 16:28]

Here are the nation's HOTTEST firefighters ― with more sizzle than a blazing fire. Their appearance brought loud screams and shouts from the audience, which might have been louder than a major gas explosion.
[Korea Times | Hotter than fire! (Photos) Posted : 2016-05-19 15:48

Poor choice of words, or light trolling? You be the judge. Why do I spend my time noticing crap like this, seriously. By the way, anybody else find it a little funny that they got a couple of noticeably fat guys to hold the ladder there? Hey there are worse ways to make a buck.

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Heat wave alert SMS today

Real quick, if you live in or around Seoul, you might have gotten this alert today.

[국민안전처]안전안내.20일10시 서울,경기일부 폭염주의보,노약자 낮시간야외활동 자제, 충분한 수분섭취등 건강에 유의하세요

It's warning that there's a heat wave, so stay indoors and stay cool and hydrated, etc.

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Feedly vs. Inoreader, Part 5: Google News is a pro feature?

Here is an addition to my series (which even I thought was finished) on Feedly vs Inoreader as the RSS reader of choice. I look for areas in which one objectively excels over the other. This time I get all high and mighty about what RSS means, and why I see one reader moving in a direction I don't like. This is Part 5. For more, see this series Part 1Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 if you're interested. 

Google News: a pro feature? 

I thought I was done with the whole Feedly vs. Inoreader thing, because honestly I made the switch to being a paid Inoreader user and have never looked back. But something I saw today made me cringe.

If you have a feedly Pro or feedly Team account, you can use the premium Power Search function to create a Google News feed within feedly.
[Feedly Blog | Follow a Google News Keyword Alert in Feedly]

Seriously guys? You're offering a completely free public Google service as a "Pro" feature? 

Google News: use its RSS feeds for free, anywhere

Google offers those RSS news feeds free, and you can add them to any feed reader, whether you're a pro or free user, using Google's own instructions here. It's literally as easy as searching on Google News and clicking the RSS feed link at the bottom.

You can use and subscribe to both Google News section feeds and search results feeds. You can find Google News Feeds by searching for the orange RSS icon at the bottom of any Google News page.
By clicking this RSS icon, you can get a feed for any Google News section. For instance, while you're on the Business page, clicking the RSS icon at the bottom of the page will give you a feed of business news.
You can also get a feed for searches you do on Google News. First perform a search on Google News, then simply use the RSS icon at the bottom of the search results page to generate the feed.
[Google News Help | Using Google News RSS Feeds]

And yes, I've tried, you can use search operators to get insanely customized feeds, even feeds from sites that don't even provide actual RSS feeds (I'm looking at you, AllKpop). These feeds are indeed handy, whatever industry you're in. Inoreader already supports (and has done so for a while now) a very convenient way to add Google News feeds from right inside its main search bar, for free, for everyone. As it should be. Google provides this service, not the Feedly cloud. It seems obscene to limit it to "pro" users. 

Why this matters 

I get that Feedly did and does a lot for RSS, and that they need paying customers to survive. But the whole foundation of their product is freely, openly distributed RSS content. Making Google News a "pro" feature essentially is a charge for that free, open content. Imagine if following certain people on Twitter required a Twitter Pro account. Or tweets linking to certain sites required a Pro account to see. That's crazy. The content is open and free, and charging for it (by suggesting users need a pro upgrade to see/use it) seems deceptive to me. 

What's next, following RSS feeds from Reddit is a pro feature? From NYT? From my blog? From any blog not in a publishing partnership with Feedly? 

I feel petty for writing this post. If you like Feedly, use and pay for Feedly by all means. But on a personal note I am extremely passionate about what RSS is all about: a simple, free, organized way of following the websites you love. I hate to see any site drop RSS support, and honestly Feedly has done a lot to keep the idea of RSS going after Google Reader's death. 

But this feels like a step in the wrong direction, and honestly I'm nervous about the future of Feedly and its publisher SDK. Even adding a "Feedly button" makes me nervous (note that I have no problem with their suggestions for open-standard feed optimizations). RSS is inherently open and usable by any feed reader, anytime, anywhere. Consolidating control over the platform, as in encouraging publishers to add Feedly-specific content or features, even adding "Subscribe in Feedly" buttons (presuming they are placed in-lieu of normal RSS feed subscription links) is dangerous. It may allow Feedly to give a better experience to their customers, but only to their customers. The rest of us, who use other readers? My ultimate fear is that publishers will follow suit, drop standard RSS support (as some have done in favor of Twitter or E-mail newsletters), and RSS will finally truly die. 

It's worthwhile to remember that when Google Reader died, we all so easily moved over to Feedly... why? Because RSS as a service was open, transferable, free, public, cross-compatible. That's likely why Google mostly dropped it. If RSS becomes FSS (Feedly Subscription Service), or any other specific company's domain, then what we love about RSS will be gone. Dead. Just another Twitter-like service. Keep that in mind when you decide which RSS reader you want to support by becoming a paid user. 

On the flip side, I could be totally wrong, and Feedly's efforts turn out to revitalize the moribund RSS arena, and the rising tide will raise all ships. That's the ideal, but as the open web becomes less open everyday, I wonder how much longer we'll be able to enjoy the humble RSS feed. 

Thanks for reading, and for more of my comparisons, see this series Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4 if you're interested. 

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

K-porn pushes Chrome

At a fairly well known Korean site of ill repute (don't ask), something caught my eye, more than the grainy motel footage from 15 years ago, in the side banner:

That's right. Of all Korean websites, it is this one that is actively promoting the use of Chrome.

It reads 재생이 안되는 분들 크롬으로 감상해주세요 동영상 로딩에 2초 가량 소모. In other words, if the videos aren't loading, please switch to Chrome browser. And give them 2 seconds to load.

Maybe it wasn't all the complaints about banking and shopping and Active-X that did it. Maybe we can all thank the red-light sites for pushing Korea into modern browser usage by tapping into something stronger than arguments about user-interface and security: sex.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Handsome murderer?

This guy stabbed his roommate to death and wildly mutilated the body. We could definitely talk about whether it's right or not to release his identity to the public. But what else are netizens talking about? How incredibly handsome a murderer he is, calling him, for example, 토막오빠 "Mutilation Boyfriend". Ah netizens... 

Sexy murderer

I guess there's something thrilling/dangerous about an ultimate "bad boy" like this. Look at all the weirdo women that fell in love with Charles Manson. Does knowing his slasher personality add to the allure? I can see a sort of Sweeney Todd Demon Barber of Fleet Street sort of appeal to this guy. I can also see him rotting in prison for 25-to-life but I doubt we'll see that.

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Sunday, May 8, 2016


Something is just funny about this. Oh I know what it is: I'm 14 years old.

Officials from taekwondo bodies pose for a photograph during the signboard hanging ceremony for the World Taekwondo Federation Central Training Center in Muju, North Jeolla Province, Friday. From left are Lee Kyu-seok, Asian Taekwondo Union president;
Ivan Dibos, WTF vice president and IOC member for Peru...
[Korea Times | WTF training center]

Something tells me that Mr. Ivan Dibos should keep his "WTF vice president" title but change his "IOC member" title to "O...I...C..." because that look on his face makes me think he knows exactly why this is funny.

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Friday, May 6, 2016

KEB banking service suspension, June 4 ~ June 7

Just a heads up that all you KEB / Hana Bank customers won't be able to use ATMs or debit cards during a 3-day period next month. Proper credit cards will be fine.

Here's some of the more important parts of the information, which your buddy Sam kindly and lazily copy/pasted from the official announcement:

Details of Temporary Suspension of Financial Transactions

Affected Period:
  • June 4, 2016 (Sat) 00:00 ~ June 7, 2016 (Tue) 06:00
Transactions to Be Suspended:
  • All financial transactions will be suspended [Banking]
  • Internet Banking, Mobile Banking, Phone Banking, ATMs [Card]
  • Check cards linked to KEB Hana Bank account : Suspended
  • Short-term card loans (cash advance) : Partially suspended 
  • Long-term card loans: Suspended
  • Hana Members services linked to a KEB Hana Bank’s account : Suspended (Reload / Withdraw from ATM / Deposit to My Account / Barcode-based settlement)
Available services:
  • Purchases with a credit card (domestic and overseas)
  • Short-term card loan (cash advance)
  • Available through other banks’ ATMs only
  • File an accident report to the Call Center
  • Contact Call Center about irregular checks
  • Money exchange at Incheon/Gimhae airports
[KEB Hana | Details of Temporary Suspension of Financial Transactions]

UPDATE: They've now also posted basically the same announcement over on their Facebook page now. Here's the embed but it seems to keep showing a "No longer available" message so just use the link if you're curious. They're answering customer comments in the post's comment feed too.

There's more information at the link so be sure to see the full announcement and of course don't forget to do whatever banking stuff you need beforehand. You can also double-check with the Korean-language announcement. I got an SMS (in Korean) about this about a week or so ago but ignored it thinking it was just spam. Turns out I should pay attention more.

I'll have to remember to pull out some cash myself a few days before. I'm a still a pay-by-cash sort of guy most of the time, which is why I am not too thrilled about Korea going coinless. How about just discounting me the 500won rather than me having to pull out another card or slow-as-hell-loading app just to receive my change? A man can dream.

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