Tag Archives: Internet

Oh Korean Internets!

Assiniboine

As much as I love that Korea has the fastest and most ubiquitous Internet access in the world, it is ironic how so much of Korea is doing the Internet wrong. Let me illustrate that with my past experience with ordering stuff through Amazon to be sent to the country.

First off, for some odd regulation, Amazon cannot send anything to Korea that are not books, DVDs, or CDs. Already, that sours the experience. Then a few years back, it became a new regulation for people to have a Uni-Pass ID to be able to order anything from Amazon. So I went and tried to get a Uni-Pass ID.

First off, in order to get a Uni-Pass ID or certificate, I have to register as a receiver of goods through customs. Now, one would assume that this would be foreigner-friendly and would have English on the custom’s Website. It doesn’t. Everything is in Korean. Not only that, I have to download and install a security software in order to go forward.

Registering my name, address and postal code proved to be a minor challenge. Seoul has recently changed its postal code system as well as its address system. This is something that mystifies even the Korean population as many don’t even know their own address under the current system.

I manage to successfully register at customs, but NO, I still don’t have my Uni-Pass ID. That’s another application I have to go through. One would assume that the only reason a person would register at customs was to get the ID, but I guess that would be too simple and obvious. In any case, I had to download another security program in order apply for my ID. Like the first program, this one didn’t have English, but worse, the Korean text on the menus won’t even show up properly on a machine running English Windows. I had to get help from a coworker who’s familiar with it.

Everything went well, including authenticating my phone and my carrier information, until BAM! It won’t let me get any further. I repeated the process a couple more times and still it won’t let me go further. And then I realized I was using Google Chrome. Korea is still very much wedded to Internet Explorer in 2017, including Active-X, so I had to repeat the process using Internet Explorer and then it finally worked. I got my ID.

Went to Amazon, ordered my books, and hopefully it will arrive soon. Hopefully! Some foreigners report that despite going through the whole process, their packages end up getting stuck at the postal office. When they call and inquire about it, the postal service workers ask them for their alien card number, something which all foreigners have here. Now, if that’s all that they needed, why make people go through the whole Uni-Pass process?! It’s just another system of which they can track my activities which the government already does with my passport and alien card number. What’s the point of all of this?!

The Korean Internet experience is great if you’re not doing any transactions with Korean sites or institutions. If you are, get ready to install a bunch of software you don’t need, do your business using Internet Explorer, and have an hour or two handy. It’s the most ironic situation for a country that’s so hip to the whole Internet.

Oh and if you ever want pornography, use a VPN to access sites. The Korean government has hired Christian watchdog groups to police Internet content, making many sites inaccessible without a VPN. Ironically, this means only members of these Christian watchdog groups ever get to enjoy pornography freely (and an unhealthy amount of it, if that’s what they’ve been tasked to devote their time on).

Update: If you want to modify or distribute modified games, you could face fines of up to $50,000 in South Korea. I guess this is to cut down on massive cheating on online games, which I would argue there are worse problems out there that needs legislators’ attention. If anything, I think this is just to protect the integrity of e-sports and companies profiting off of e-sports, because really, how is anyone supposed to police this? And what kind of legislator sits there and wonders about modifying games? That’s a big leap from stodgy legislators raging over violence in video games.

If I happen to modify an old copy of Super Mario, will that get me fined and how are they supposed to catch me? And what about say those Jamma carts with pre-loaded games? A lot of those have, by definition, unlicensed modified games. Are those technically illegal now? And what about trainer programs that aren’t really designed for online use? Again, pretty dumb Internet in South Korea.

 

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No Facebook, No.

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A good friend of mine contacted me on Facebook and showed me our Facebook anniversary notification. Apparently, we have been Facebook friends for ten years, and it showed some highlights and some stats regarding our interaction on the platform. It’s a good attempt from Facebook to get people to start using their platform again, although it’s a bit too obvious. I’ve long abandoned my Facebook page. I only use it to keep in touch with family members via the messenger app. I don’t think seeing my history with the platform would really entice me to go back to using it as much as I used to.

I just finished listening to the latest ‘The Hidden Brain’ episode (Schadenfacebook). It explores what I already read about years ago and what I’ve come to belief for a long time now, the more I use social networking platform, the more depressed I become. The show basically says that Facebook gets its users to curate their life, create a show for their friends and family to see. It creates or amplifies this need to appear happy, or at least happier than your friends. Also, the fear of missing out and constantly checking on the experiences of your friends diminishes your own current experiences. You could be traveling in some exotic locale, but the joy from the experience is dulled should you see that your friends on Facebook or doing something else together, even if it’s something as mundane as meeting up for coffee. Instead of enjoying your current experience, your mind is somewhere else, either wishing to be a part of your friends’ experience, or thinking of ways to one-up their experience with your own post.

Basically, Facebook is bad news. It gets you depressed. It turns you into a smaller person. The more depressed you are, the more active you become at the site. And the thing is, you end up competing with people who are probably just as depressed as you are.

Amazingly, one of the most cynical companies whose product is basically preying on people’s ego and making people less fulfilled in the process is one of the richest companies in the world. Good job, Mark!

Facebook started out great. I get to see some friends from back home. I get to reconnect with some people who I’ve long lost touch with. But I also get to see some old romances and basically enjoy how bad their life has become or how their looks have deteriorated since I left them. It is basically a tool that helps me with my ego, telling me that I’ve made the right decisions in life. And while I can only say that about my own experience, I’m pretty sure that’s what motivates many people on the site too. They might as well call the site LookAtHowBadMyExIsDoingTheseDays.com. So yeah, jealousy, depression, unnecessary competitiveness, ego… it’s like Facebook was designed by the devil himself.

So yeah, while I love that friend of mine who recently contacted me (I love him like a brother), I won’t be coming back. Nice try, Facebook. I’m depressed enough as it is.

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Park Geun Hye Got Her

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The whole Korean impeachment thing has swallowed my wife whole. It’s everything she watches on TV outside of the occasional Korean drama. She follows it all the time on the Web and has even talked to me about the most unsteady conspiracy theories. There are even whispers about the President having AIDS, to which I say it should not be an issue because having AIDS does not affect one’s ability at their profession unless they are a sex worker. Concerns about this not only expose people’s ignorance but also their prejudice against people with the disease. It has made normally rational people irrational. Park Geun Hye has become the reason for all of the ills in the country. My wife even tried to drag me into an anti-government rally over the weekend. It consumed my weekend! And it will probably consume my wife for months to come long after the president is driven out of office.

The thing is, I used to be like her until I got tired of it. I still enjoy watching people yell at each other over politics. I still argue with people occasionally on Twitter about it. But I no longer see the point of the endless back and forth of talking points on the likes of Bill Maher’s show, MSNBC, and worst of all, CNN. You learn something about politics, but after a while, it’s just the same talking points against another talking point. It’s just the thrill of getting the last word in, saying it better than your political opponent. It gets very tiring. And as much as the Park Geun-Hye thing is a concern for my wife since she is Korean, following it religiously for every bit of development, even the scraps of conspiracy theories, does not make the process of impeaching her any faster. It doesn’t fix things that are broken. It just aggravates her to no end.

I remember writing a few months back that politics is my professional wrestling. It’s the endless drama I watch. I follow Canadian politics, but it’s not as absurd as American and now Korean politics. The thing is, just like professional wrestling back then, I try not to get too worked up when The Rock gets his title stolen by Triple H. I can simply walk away from it. Some people need to learn to walk away from politics now and then and not get worked into a frenzy. Listen to yourself before you start sounding like a talking point, or worse, a conspiracy theorist.

As corny as it may sound, instead of following things religiously, people should act. You want Park Geun Hye out? Then protest, support opposing parties, donate to groups, etc. Don’t just follow every bit of news, fake news, and non-news on the Internet as if that will help change anything. You don’t like Trump? Support the cause he’s bound to hurt. Same thing with Trudeau. Mostly a decent Prime Minister but his pipeline stance is not really to my liking. Support anything green.

I say these things now, but tonight, I’m meeting my wife and her friends for dinner. I’m sure politics will be talked about endlessly. And to preserve my sanity, I will reflexively reach out to my phone and look at my Twitter… where I will definitely find more politics.

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Good Times in New Internets

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GoDaddy decided to retire my old Web site’s template, so I had to go with another design. I think the slideshow is a little better and makes for a more organized look, but visitors can’t zoom and see details of the small drawings. Unfortunately, I can’t import all of my old Web site’s contents including old Weekly entries, so if anyone’s really interested (unlikely), they can just go to my other blog site.

While I don’t mind the new overall look, the site is still a bit wonky on mobile devices. Hopefully, I’ll get it all sorted out in the next couple of days.

I just realized that as I write this, I post a link to my WordPress blog, which has a link to the new site, this site which happens to be talking about the WordPress blog, both of which are reflected on Medium, which rarely gets any hits but also links back to the Web site, which again, has links to other sites.

And that is how Internet  news  media works!

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Everybody Panic!

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I probably won’t get the MERS virus. I regularly interact with people who travel to the Middle East. There are people around me who ARE from the Middle East. But I’ll probably be fine. Probably.

But that’s not what the Korean media would have you believe. I’m not minimizing the seriousness of five local deaths, but for weeks now, there’s been non-stop news regarding the MERS virus spreading like wildfire in South Korea. People are at a panic due to a lack of confidence regarding the way the government has handled and is handling the situation. To date, there has been a new protocol established to track down suspected MERS patients using the GPS on their phones. There is also new hospital procedures designed to isolate patients coming in who suspect they may be infected. However, some people still believe it is too little too late.

The Korean government began by being secretive regarding which hospitals have identified patients with the MERS virus. Understandably, they don’t want people to panic. But instead of preventing panic, people now suspect that the Korean government is simply protecting their political backers by keeping the names of the hospitals secret. They have since reversed their position. Twenty-four hospitals have been identified, and major ones have come forward as identifying MERS patients, but the damage was already done. The people are in fear.

“What happened to all of those patients? Where else did they go? Did they take public transportation? A lot of people don’t really cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze! How many people are infected with MERS and have not been identified? What else is the government not telling?! My supervisor has a cold. Could it be MERS? Should I start wearing a mask? Why is she in the office? Shouldn’t she go to the hospital? What if she catches MERS in a hospital? Which doorknobs has she touched?!?!”

Classes have been suspended. People are walking around wearing masks. People are being encouraged to wash their hands and use disinfectants (As a germophobic, I welcome this!).

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Of course, warnings like this don’t really inspire confidence from people.

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I’m gonna miss drinking camel water!

The whole thing will probably pass the same way the avian flu and SARS scare came and went. It’s just interesting seeing how the panic spreads from a combination of ineffective government response, media hype, and Internet paranoia. It’s like being front and center at the beginning of a public panic.

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Monkey See

monkey

So what’s on television?

Korean television is 40 percent people eating/cooking, 30 percent dramas, and 30 percent celebrities talking or singing, or being in any format where they’d end up just chatting or singing. That breakdown is a tad unscientific, but it’s basically all that I see whenever my wife channel surfs. Lately, there have been a couple of trends: having foreigners who speak Korean on television, and having celebrities’ children go about their everyday life. All in all, there’s nothing too compelling.

Some people say that Japanese television is also the same, just people eating or watching celebrities react to different topics. But I don’t really watch too much Japanese television.

There are foreign channels here but they are simply awful. There’s Discovery Channel, National Geo, and TLC. So if you want to learn about panning for gold, ghost hunting, or baking cupcakes, you got your channels. Local stations would show different CSIs, NCIS, and other network dramas, but not so much of the amazing Renaissance television has been experiencing on cable.

For years, all of my viewing entertainment has been on the Internet. I’ve become one of those people that would just watch whole seasons of shows within a week. Thank you, Internet. I’ve gotten access to long dead shows and movies that people don’t really hear too much about. These shows probably wouldn’t have been broadcast in Korean television. But then again, they probably wouldn’t have been broadcast in Canadian television either. Do they still show reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm? Last time I was in Canada, I wasn’t too impressed with what my sister had on television. She was watching OWN.

Speaking of sister, she was watching a lot of Filipino television as well. The shows seem to be very celebrity driven as opposed to being about good writing. There’s a lot of melodrama and schlock. Like everything, it could be good in small doses, but I’m not sure about a steady diet.

I also stayed with my best friend while in Canada and she’s content with just having Netflix. I guess much like me, she prefers to watch seasons of shows or have a movie playing. She’s not much for keeping up with what’s on on television either. I guess it’s not just me being here in South Korea that’s driven my viewing to the Internet. I guess it’s the future of the media.

In any case, if you’re in Korea, the Internet is vital. Otherwise, you’d either be watching a lot of Koreans eating things or you’ll simply be getting a lot more reading done.

I recently saw the latest Planet of the Apes film. I really like where they’re going with this franchise.

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Art, “Terror,” and a bit about Godaddy

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An art opening, an art opening! Got a gallery show opening this weekend with a couple of other artists. Exciting stuff. It’s always good to meet new artists and see what kind of works other people are into. I also learned that I’m not the only foreign artist in the country who dabbled in making action figures.

Despite Korea being quite small, I’ve never been to this city right next to Seoul where we’re having the exhibition (Ilsan, northwest of Seoul). The place seems quite young and the architecture feels foreign to me. It’s almost as if I’m walking in Japan. I would hang out in Ilsan more if it wasn’t an hour and a half away from where I live. And really, there are far too many bars near where I live for me to wander far in order to get a drink. My neighborhood has made me lazy.

Are we feeling better now, Canada? Are we all good? I gotta say, the overall reaction to the shooting a couple of days ago was far more level-headed than one would expect if it happened down south. No giant panics and no moral outrages. No one is going after swaths of Muslim populations. What troubles me though is the almost too-canadian rumored reaction from our Prime Minister during the shooting: that he hid in a closet. How Canadian is that, eh? “Mr. Prime Minister, a gun man is causing trouble outside, you’d better get inside this closet!” Can’t we at least get a panic room or something?

On a more serious note however, I’m more troubled with Canadian politicians and Americans calling the whole thing an “act of terror.” Glenn Greenwald made a good point about it, and it’s something I always felt was the general bias when it comes to the liberal use of Western force in other countries. The shooter targeted Canadian military. As cowardly in terms of the attack coming out of nowhere as it is, there appears to be an effort not to harm civilians, but only to harm soldiers and those in power. Sure, there was an element of “terror,” but wouldn’t the act of combatants attacking others who are technically combatants be classified as par for the course in war? It wasn’t an act of terror. It was war, and Canada has been at war (against vague terror) along with the United States for over a decade now.

Calling the attack an act of terror, in my mind, does two things. One, it is used as another piece of propaganda for more war, more money for the military, and more kids being sent to fight overseas. What exactly are we doing in Afghanistan? For what purpose are we there for? Couldn’t Canada find a better way to achieve these goals outside of military intervention?

The other thing it does is that it defines the word “terror.” It was an act of terror when a man targeted soldiers and a government facility. I’m not going to argue against that because it definitely was terrible and I do feel for the victim and his family. I’ll give you that. It was an act of terror. He did not shoot civilians, but that poor soldier did not see it coming and did not deserve getting shot that day. But how do we define the actions of the US military when they bomb innocent civilians through signature strikes? How do we define the thousands of deaths in the vague “war on terror?” These are actions which kill not only supposed terrorists, but also civilians. Aren’t the people living in these neighborhoods also terrorized?

Now, I’m not saying that United States is a monster for conducting a terrorist campaign on several nations in what appears to be a disproportionate act of vengeance. What I’m saying is that “terror,” “acts of terror,” and “war against terror” are all horribly vague and maleable terms. They are trump cards which justify horrible actions and push forward shortsighted government policies. Sure, we can call something an “act of terror.” What happened in Canada was an act of terror. But let’s also examine our own terrible actions and see exactly how terrible we have been.

Problems with Godaddy again. Well, I don’t know if it’s Godaddy, Korea’s fickle Internet, or whatever. Ugh!

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Did I Help Start a Dumb Porn Site?

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Started making art again. Yay! It’s been a while, a month perhaps, since the last time I made art. I’ve just been sitting in front of my sketch pad not wanting to draw a thing. Artists would know this… wanting to do something but not knowing just what to do… having the television run on the background, watching time waste away. Luckily, I’m now inspired to work and make something. It’s good to finally want something done on paper.

I also started studying again. I always want to be reading something for a purpose. Fiction has its place, but I already flood myself with so much fiction that it’s good to study and perhaps retain something that might be useful at some point. Last time, I took a law and justice course to get myself reading something productive. I like to think that at the end of my studies, despite me not suddenly working in law, it has made me a better Canadian by knowing a little more about the country’s law and history.

This time, I’m trying my hand at html coding and javascript. It’s always been something that I regretted not knowing how to do. People assume that I’m a bit of a nerd and that I know my way around computers. I actually do know my way around computers and electronics, but I have no idea about programming. It was something that I totally missed back in the 90s. It’s time to change that.

Speaking of coding and computers and people assuming that I know how to do things. I remember back in university when I ran into an old high school friend who just disappeared from my life. He ran into some trouble back in high school and became sort of a delinquent. Drugs, break-ins, juvie, etc. Anyway, I was crossing the street on my way home when I suddenly ran into him. He told me he’s trying to do well but he needs some help. I wasn’t about to give him any money, but I told him I’d help him out. He said he wanted to educate himself; that he wanted to learn more about computers, and maybe run a website or something. Maybe I could help him sign up for a course.

Pleased with hearing all of this, we immediately went to a computer college, talked to some advisors, and got him some materials to look through for his courses. I even took him to financial aid, so maybe he could apply for some assistance. All of this in the span of a couple of hours. Pretty efficient.

With my good deed done, I was beat and ready to end the sudden reunion and wish my old friend good luck on his new chapter in life. Before saying goodbye however, I asked him what does he plan to do in the future after learning more about computers.

“You don’t see Native women porn on the Internet. I think I could have the first Website to feature that.”

Disappointed and disgusted, I wished him good luck anyway. I didn’t see him again for seven years.

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Messing Up My Fast Internet

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As a continuation of the Website rant last week, my site is now accessible on most PCs. Last week, I had to change DNS settings on my PC at home in order to access my site, but this morning I was pleased to discover that my site is now accessible without changing any settings.

Initially I thought it had something to do with my Web host or South Korea’s Internet censors, but I soon learned that it was my local ISP that was fiddling around with things.

I suspected South Korea’s Internet censors because the country is notorious for allowing Christian groups to look around for offensive Websites, report them to the police, and have the sites banned in the country. It is an extremely backwards policy especially when you consider that the country has one of the fastest Internet connections in the world. What’s even more ironic is that since Christian groups are the ones hunting down offensive sites, usually pornography, it is the hardcore Christians who get to see most pornography on a regular basis before they (cock) block everyone else’s access. Some other sites also banned in South Korea are political in nature, especially concerning North Korea.

This censorship, plus random fiddling of Korean ISPs make some rather benign Websites inaccessible in the country. For a while there, lululemon.com was inaccessible in the country. (Not that I was shopping for yoga pants!) What annoys me the most out of this censorship, including in other countries like China, is that the law makers and the morality zealots are idiotically unaware of VPNs and proxy servers. And even taking those options out of consideration, people will still be able to get their pornography and political subversion fix despite the constant censorship. More sites will replace the ones that are banned. It’s like a global whack-a-mole.

Anyway, that gets my gourd…

That, plus South Koreans use so much security on their sites using Active-X. The whole country is tied to Internet Explorer, which, after a year or so surfing the Internet and installing a bunch of security certification programs, can drag an average PC performance to a snail’s pace. It’s just more stuff to install and more passwords to remember and more e-mail to respond to, etc. A coworker of mine complains that it takes him forever to do Internet banking on Korean banks because of all the security and certificates he has to deal with. It’s probably less of a hassle to just go out to the bank and deal with a teller.

And in another ironic twist, while the intent of marrying Active-X was to bolster security, it would seem that Active-X actually poses a wide security risk for many Websites since many hackers can use it to gain access to computers. Ugh.

South Korea has amazingly fast Internet and I don’t have to pay premium for it. I guess that’s part of the reason why the country is a haven for online gaming. However, I could really do without the censorship and all the security BS.

 

 

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