Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Koreans are using IFTTT

Well that's unexpected. Korea just broke into the Top 15 countries that use IFTTT, the online service that connections various other online and offline services together ("If This, Then That"). This list was specifically for IoT usage.

That's pretty interesting since, as far as I can tell, the IFTTT interface is only in English. So 18% of Koreans who use IFTTT use it with an IoT device... I wonder what device they're using most? I've been keeping my eye out for the Philips Hue, but haven't seen it in any major stores here yet. I wonder if they're ordering devices from overseas and just shipping them here. The home camera systems might be popular, but that's just a guess.

One reason might be that the home IoT setups promoted by the local telecom companies include monthly fees. Why pay $9/month for a home Wi-Fi camera service, when you could just buy the camera for $20 and hook it up yourself? With IFTTT you could utilize it remotely in a variety of ways without any monthly fees.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

NASA space station images of Korea

NASA keeps a public archive of some of the photos astronauts have taken from the ISS, called "Windows on Earth." I had bookmarked this to post a long while back, but forgot about it until now.

Here's one of what pretty clearly must be Jeju Island:

Jeju Island. Image: NASA

There's only six photos right now that come up in a "Korea" search, so I hope more will be added. I particularly like the one where the lit DMZ makes that clear line of light across the border. Very cool. And if you're curious about what all those dotty lights are out in the sea around Korea at night, they're apparently squid boats, which use light to draw up the curious squid. Sort of makes me feel bad for eating them. Then I remember how delicious they can be, fried or dried.

Anyway I found them here:

NASA - Windows on Earth: "korea"

And you can also add their "Korea" RSS feed to get updates on new ones.

Bonus: Here's another shot I like:

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Korean emergency alert messages on your phone

If you bought a phone in Korea, now and then you may receive Emergency Alert text messages from the Korean government. These arrive as alerts that make your phone vibrate or sound multiple times, presenting a message on-screen, which then gets saved as an SMS text message.

However these are pretty much always in Korean. So it can be hard for new arrivals in Korea to know what's going on. Are we under attack? Do you need to swap all your currency for bitcoin and swim to Japan? Probably not. Most of these alerts are for severe weather, like warnings about floods, heatwaves, heavy rain, etc.

Note: This post has been edited to include the resources below. Old example screenshots and explanations remain after that. 

For awhile here I posted copies of messages I'd get and translate them for you. But I sometimes don't get around to it right away and by the time I do the event is over anyway. Plus since I swapped my SIM into a new phone, I haven't received any.

So if you're confused, here are a few resources that might help you.

Resources for Korean Emergency Alert messages

  • Sign-up to get English language air quality alerts via SMS from Seoul City Government
  • Sign-up to receive real-time alerts via Twitter from Seoul Lifeline
  • Check the #KoreaEmergencySMS hashtag on Twitter
    I used to try to post copies there as soon as I could, but since sticking my SIM into a new phone I've stopped receiving them myself. 
  • Follow the Korean Emergency Management Agency on Twitter at @safeppy (formerly @Nema_SafeKorea)
    This will get you most all the alerts anytime for almost any part of the country. That be overkill, and they retweet a lot of junk. Plus it's only in Korean. But Twitter can auto-translate them for you, so check the tweet dates and compare with your phone's message.
  • Check the archive of emergency broadcast messages here: 긴급재난문자< 재난상황정보< 뉴스/알림< 국민안전처 대표 홈페이지.
    That site also reveals the exact cities/areas/regions targeted by each message. But again, in Korean.
  • Check the KMA's English warning site at https://web.kma.go.kr/eng/weather/forecast/notice.jsp
    They may have a very recent warning that likely is the same issue your emergency alert is describing, and in English.
  • Try checking your SMS logs, and just plain copy/pasting the message into a translation app. This actually generally works pretty well to give you an idea of what's going on. 

If you're still unsure, tweet me @10wontips with a screenshot and I'll try to get back to you.

Some older examples of Korean emergency SMS message I received  from when this post first went up continues below.

Some real life Korean SMS Alert samples

2016-09-19 Earthquake aftershocks

Image: Twitter user nd_dutch

Once again, I didn't receive this alert as I'm not located in that area (I'm up in the Seoul suburbs), but since earthquakes are such rare events here (or they were until this month!) I wanted to add this one to the collection. It reads 경북 경주시 남남서쪽 11km1 지역 규모4.5 지진발생/여진 등 인전에 주의바랍니다. Just warning people to be careful around Gyeongju, Gyeongsan-bukdo from earthquake aftershocks. A 4.5er, wow. These earthquakes are leaving serious damage to people's homes and leaving roofs exposed open: Earthquakes leave many in Gyeongju exposed-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

2016-09-12 Earthquake!

I didn't get any SMS alert for this one, but Reddit user a_consultant received one. I've never known an earthquake in Korea, so that was pretty interesting. This message just gives basic info of the earthquake centered near Gyeongju in Gyeongsan-bukdo, and warns to be careful of aftershocks.

2016-08-02 Downpour warning 

This was an interesting one. I was down near the Sosa area at the time, and got this alert warning about an imminent rain shower downpour in the Bucheon city area. It warns people who are playing in streams, rivers, etc. to watch out. Sure enough, about 5~10 minutes later, a very heavy downpour started and for about 20 minutes or so it was like a flood from the sky. I can easily see how some flash flooding could occur.

This was my personal first for such a specific location warning. I've gotten warnings for Seoul city, and for the whole western coast, but nothing that fine tuned. I'm going to have to assume they're sending to all phones in a given cell area, because I've missed some that others get when I'm out of the area at the time.

Since I started collecting these here, it's probably a pretty dead giveaway that I don't travel around as much as I used to haha.

Summer of 2016 Heat Advisories 

This summer felt hotter than last year, and it must have been, given all the warnings we got about heat advisories. I'll just stick them all right here. All of these are basically the same: it's going to be super hot today, old people should be careful, be careful playing in water, stay cool and hydrated, etc.

These are the days I received such warnings:

  • 2016-08-21
  • 2016-08-04
  • 2016-07-31 
  • 2016-07-20
  • 2016-07-08

2014-07-25 Storm Warning

If you don't know any Korean at all, the above might make you panic. No, North Korea is not attacking. They're just precautionary warnings. For example, the one above reads:

7월25일20시서해중부먼바다 풍랑경보, 어선은 출항을 금지하고 출항 한 어선은 신속히 대피하시기 바랍니다

National Emergency Management Agency -
This is a storm warning alert for the off-shore Central West-Sea area [or in English, the Yellow Sea] for July 25th, 8pm. Fishing boats should not depart, and fishing boats already departed should return to shelter immediately.

2014-03-14 Civil Air Defense Drill 

Here's another example of one from a few months ago. This is the kind that is most common:

3월 14일 14시 민방위훈련 전국 실시, 민방공 경보 발령, 15분간 주민대피, 차량통제

National Emergency Management Agency
At 2pm on March 14th, a nationwide civil air defence drill will be issued [thus the air raid sirens you'll hear at this time]. For 15 minutes residents should seek shelter and vehicle use will be restricted.

If you've never experienced this sort of drill before, here's what you can expect:
  • Air raid sirens
  • People walking along the street should stop and wait patiently inside doorways, under awnings, or ideally inside. 
  • Cars and buses will sit idle, as intersections should be kept clear (in some areas, neighbourhood civil defence coordinators, who are often old men in armed-forced-emblem baseball caps, will stand in the intersection, yelling at people to shut up, don't move, stay calm.
Here's a good short video demonstrating what to expect:

If you're caught in this situation, I suggest taking it in stride and enjoying this piece of Koreana. If anything, it's nice to see the crowded, ever-traffic-logged streets of Seoul in an artificially peaceful moment.

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Yonsei library floods!

I just had to share this video. It has a perfect ratio of escalation, and cameraman screaming.

We got a lot of rain this past week here in Seoul, and I just noticed that a library building on the Yonsei University campus flooded, and I mean flooded. Watch this video, it goes from a leaky trickle to full on waterfall by the end.

I'll tack on some news links here, but there's really not that much info (that I see) about it yet. Just some talk about how it might be related to some other construction projects but that seems to have come from a campus student site so who knows. I'm sure more details will come out. The netizen comments are, as usual, pretty funny, ranging from the cute "there's all our tuition money pouring away" to the nasty "typical Hell Chosun, just like the Sewol ferry."

Overall it seemed heavy floods across the country, but not nearly as bad as two years ago and today's a bright sunny sky with Heat Advisory

UPDATE: It's starting to make the rounds in English news too:

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Korea is 14th in Mobile 'Net Connectivity? No way.

Korea ranked 14th?

You might have seen a report that came out this week, claiming that Korea ranks 14th in the world in Mobile Internet Connectivity:

SEOUL, June 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea ranked 14th among 134 countries in terms of mobile internet connectivity, a global association of mobile operators said on Tuesday.
According to the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), South Korea scored 80.7 out of 100 in four key areas of mobile internet connectivity --infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness and content. Australia topped the list, followed by the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Finland, the United States, Iceland and the U.K., the association said.
[Yonhap News | S. Korea ranks 14th in mobile internet connectivity: report]

Now I was immediately skeptical that Australia could beat out Korea in this realm, and apparently I wasn't alone. No offense to readers down under, but there's no way you have more mobile internet penetration than Korea. So I did a little digging, and came across what looks like the report they are talking about.

It's a PDF you can find here:

Top 25, by the numbers

Let's look at the numbers from that report:

Source: GSMAintelligence.com

You can see that Korea is actually #1 in Infrastructure. No surprise there. The obvious drop for Korea was in the "Content" area. Somehow Australia is beating Korea in mobile internet content? Really? That threw up a red flag right there. Koreans must consume more mobile content than anyone. Take a ride on the subway and see the mindless phone staring zombies for yourself. I know guys who have 20GB/month LTE data plans, and burn through it in two weeks. I don't even think I use that much data on my home Wi-Fi.

Korea falls short in "Content"?

So I looked for what the report means by "Content" and found this:

Source: GSMAintelligence.com

OK, like I thought, this report seems pretty biased towards US-friendly websites.

The problem of bias

  • Quality of e-government services (25%)
    I'll grant you some of the government services are a hassle, but many, especially for the smartphone market (desktop browsers can be another story) work great. Kojects just highlighted one in their recent post. I wonder how familiar this report is with them. 
  • Facebook penetration rate (15%)
    I'm sure more Aussies are on Facebook, but so what? Koreans have Band, KakaoStory, and Line locally, not to mention the anecdotal preference for Instagram, not to mention the still highly active blogger community that never lost steam like blogs did in the West. "How much people use Facebook" is a wildly presumptive and biased factor to include. 
  • Wikipedia edits per user (10%)
    Accessible Wikipedia articles for the average person (10%)
    Accessible website content for the average person (10%)
    Have you seen the Korean version of Wikipedia? It's terrible. It has very limited content; even if there is an article for a topic, it's usually very short and lacking lots of the detail English articles have. Why? Because Koreans don't have much mobile internet? No. Because they're too stupid to know how to use an online encyclopedia? No. Because they use their own domestic services instead, and have been doing so for years. Namu Wiki (나무위키) is probably the most similar to Wikipedia, but there's also Naver Encyclopedia (네이버 지식백과), and don't forget about that old favorite, Naver Knowledge* (네이버지식iN). Measuring how much people use Wikipedia is an absurd way to measure international internet use. I mean if we're going by Wikipedia articles, Filipinos who speak Waray (the 5th most spoken language there!) would have a higher score than Koreans (Waray is in the "1 million club" at Wikipedia).
  • Average accessibility of the top 100 mobile apps to the average person (80%)
    All I'd say here is to remember that Korean carriers have their own popular app stores, which some Korean game manufacturers prefer over Google Play. But it looks like this wasn't an issue in the stats. 

So how did Korea really do in these areas? The breakdown was on a sister site that the PDF linked to:

69.4 - Local Relevance
30.7- Facebook user penetration
33.7- Wikipedia edits per internet user
69.4- ccTLDs per capita
97.6- Online Service Index score for E-Government
78.6- gTLDs per capita

76.9 0 Availability
3.8- Wikipedia articles accessible to population
95.5- Accessibility of mobile applications
1.0- Websites accessible to population
[GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index]

Low scores for Facebook and terrible scores for Wikipedia. Just like I thought.

Korea apparently also got a big ding in the "Spectrum" subsection of Infrastructure, with only a 33.2 score overall, and 27.0 for "Spectrum below 1GHz". Maybe somebody smarter than me can explain that one.

Lazy reporting

Overall, it's clear why Korea got majorly dinged in this category. It should be clear too that it's a biased category and not representative of the actual mobile internet penetration rate in Korea. And I'd be hesitant to trust its ranking for other countries as well, especially those with their own preferred SNS services. It feels arrogant and biased to think "Facebook & Wikipedia" are THE content on the net.

Hey I'm no expert, and don't claim to be. But from a trade group that seems to specialize in this, it sure seems a lazy way to get stats. So don't believe everything you read. Korea's mobile internet penetration rate is just fine. Now I'm going to get back to torrenting legally streaming entire seasons of TV shows on my phone in 5 minutes.

Thanks for reading.

*Is there an official English name for this? Knowledge-in? Knowledgian? This is more like Yahoo Answers than a curated Wikipedia, but no where near as ghetto as Yahoo Answers either. I'll never forget that I once had a coworker whose daughter had a few minor parts in a few minor dramas. I did a search for her, and the only result outside her official agency profile was a 네이버지식iN question asking "Who was that beautiful actress in hospital bed #4 in last night's episode of BlahBlahBlah drama?" and it was answered with overflowing praise by someone who seemed to know all about the girl. The question was answered something like 15 minutes after it was asked. To this day I highly suspect both were written by her mother. Nice girl, hope she gets more work in the future. 
EDIT: A friend made a good comparison: 네이버지식iN is more like Quora than Yahoo Answers. 

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Stephen Colbert's Korean Man Spanx

This week on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Stephen had a small comedy bit where he featured himself as a "Korean Man Spanx" model.

Stephen Colbert's Korean man-spanx
Stephen's Man-spanx. Image: YouTube

During a guest interview with actress Ellie Kemper (from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, or Erin from The Office), they discussed being in advertisements overseas. Stephen joked that he is the spokesmen for a brand of Korean Man-Spanx and showed the product to the audience. I didn't know this, but manspanx are apparently tight-fitting male undergarments meant to hide your gut and give a more slim, athletic look. Maybe I should pick up a few of these.

The text reads 이중적 아첨, 예쁜 압착, 더 지방이 없다, or "Doubly flattering. Beautifully squeezed. No more fat!" I can't make out what it says under the tiger. My Korean's not perfect, but 더 지방이 없다 seems sort of unnatural. I wonder if they just Google Translated this? If you speak Korean, let me know.

Update: YouTube user "dragon y" says that under the tiger it reads:"당신은 지금 좋아 보여요 -> You look good now."

Here's the bit, which starts at 32 seconds in. The embed should start there automatically:

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