Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Odds and ends on blogging

One new feature from is a long overdue enhancement to allow those leaving comments to be notified by email if there has been a reply.

So, if you leave a comment expecting a reply, you can subscribe and receive any further comments by email without having to go back and check the blog each time. This pretty basic idea has been available on WordPress and MovableType blogs for a long time but blogger just launched it recently.

If you have a blog, the feature is available automatically to your readers if they use a Google account, you don't need to change anything on your blog.

I recently subscribed to It has not brought me any visitors yet, but I've moved the widget up to the top of the blog on the right hand side to promote it. If you see an interesting blog post title there, click to visit another blog in the blogrush network.

I followed one link today and on the blog I visited, Violet eclipse, I saw a link in her blogrush widget to a my good friend Gdog over at The Daily Kimchi. I think that almost proves that relevant links are being generated by their system. I continued following links and it led me to Japanese Penguin which is a blog written by three English language teachers in Tokyo. One of them has the misfortune of being an employee of Nova, a rather large English language school that has very publicly gone into administration last week owing 7,000 teachers several months salary.

I try to keep my blogroll on the right hand side up to date with blogs that are still being maintained. I've said goodbye to several blogs that have stopped posting and added new blogs, particularly on Japan, as I come across them. Check out some of the new blogs added on the righthand side today.

There is no good equivalent of the Korean Blog List for finding bloggers in Japan. The top two blogs JapanProbe and Japundit have sizable blogrolls so I'll be working my way through those in the coming months. RokDrop always has some good links from Japanese blogs in his regular Rok Droplets feature on Sundays. I very briefly considered joining the Yamanote line Halloween party on Saturday evening. Reading about the event afterwards however, I am very glad I did not.

Happy Halloween to you all.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Standup Comedy in Seoul : Nov 11.

A few months ago we enjoyed the first of BH Production's 'Standup Comedy nights'. Thanks to being on their mailing list I can tell you that in November they are presenting another night of comedy at the B1 Lounge in Itaewon.

Don't miss Bryan Erwin and Nathan Timmel for an outstanding night of comedy. Bryan Erwin and Nathan Timmel, two professional comedians in the United States, are being brought over to Korea for a one night only show in Itaewon.

Bryan Erwin's comedic appeal is universally apparent: audiences everywhere can identify with his take on life, or as he puts it, "an ongoing series of awkward, uncomfortable moments." His satirical style has been featured at legendary comedy clubs such as the Comedy Store, the Improv, and the Laugh Factory.

Nathan Timmel is known for his edgy, observational humour unmercifully directed at contemporary culture and politics. Nathan has entertained audiences at numerous comedy clubs around the world, and looks forward to unleashing his act on a Seoul audience for the first time.

Venue: the B1 Lounge, Itaewon, line 6, exit 1. Go out exit 1, turn right at KFC, walk up about 20 meters. The B1 Lounge is on your left.

Time: Doors open at 5pm. Show starts at 6pm. General seating.

Tickets: 35,000 won, includes one free drink.

Flyer for BH Productions Comedy night at B1 Lounge Itaewon, Seoul starring Bryan Erwin and Nathan Timmel
Here's a clip of Bryan on child birth, he sounds pretty funny.

Bryan Erwin "Me, marriage and birth"

Bryan Erwin | Cild birth

I must find some Comedy clubs in Tokyo!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Seoul City Hall construction site hoarding

These are some photos I took, before I left Seoul, of the hoardings around the construction site beside City Hall. As I have mentioned before, the Koreans build very high quality hoardings around the building sites and put a lot of effort into making them look attractive. The hoardings beside City Hall are particulary impressive.

From a distance it looks just like a normal picture.

Seoul City Hall , construction site hoarding

As you approach you realise it might be some sort of mosaic

Seoul City hall, construction site hoarding, getting a bit closer

As you get closer you see it is made up of small photos.

Seoul City Hall , construction site hoarding from a few meters away

Once you stand beside it you realise how cleverly it has been put together.

Seoul City Hall , construction site hoarding from one meter away showing indiviual photos

The artist has used thousands and thousands of different photos, some of them going back to the 1980's of all sorts of places, events and subjects. The photos do not appear to have been altered in any way, and yet they create the picture you see from a distance.

It's well worth taking a close up look if you've seen it from a distance. I haven't been able to find out anything about the artist or how they did it so if any knows or can find out I would be most interested.

Update: Thanks to Mark for the explanation. It's a Photographic Mosaic. Obvious really! There are at least ten programs available to download to create your own mosaic, and there are also online applications, here's one, so it's not as difficult as I first thought.

Update 2: Thanks to Mr Kim at the Delta Eagle's OC for letting me know it's from It's made up of 6 million images.

Update 3: Thanks to anonymous, the artist's name is Sylver Kang. He used Mazaika software. You may see some more information on his website

Friday, October 19, 2007

Volunteer Tour Guides offered in Seoul

I often visit the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum website and offer advice to travellers asking about Korea.

Today I saw a posting that I thought deserves a wider audience.

A group of Koreans have created a small organistion to offer Free guided tours of Seoul.

This is from Youngdae Kwon, the organiser's website :

Free Tour Guide in Seoul, non professional volunteer organization, was launched for helping overseas visitors experience Korean culture and customs.

Free Tour Guide in Seoul offers overseas visitors a free guided tour in and around Seoul, which has a myriad of exciting and appealing attractions.

Since we are volunteer guides, our members may not speak your native language perfectly. We can only offer visitors the services at weekends. However, we are full of energy, heart-warming hospitality, and cultural insights. Our latest information ensures that you will have a memorable experience in Seoul.

Even if you already live in Seoul, all overseas people are welcome. We may know about Seoul more than you do!

All you need to do is visit his website, complete the short request form and email it to him at the address on the site.

If anyone does take a tour with Mr Kwon, please let me know how you get on.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Korean news stories

A few news items of interest.
CNN has been running an Eye on South Korea section on their website which has some interesting articles including stories on High Definition cinema , Robots being used to build ships and the head of the Korean Toilet Association, Sim Jae Duck's toilet shaped house that he is building in Suwon.

From the Japan times an item on Korean day trippers going to Tokyo for Disney Land or to catch a baseball match.

Update: another picture of the Toilet shaped house.

More Korean news stories

I wasn't planning on doing more Korean news stories today, but the fact that Korea was mentioned on six pages in the Japan Times seemed worthy of note.

On the front page was the news that the South Korean government has set aside 1.5 billion won to help about 200 ethnic Koreans in Japan who are about to be evicted from a community they developed after being evicted from their homes at the end of WW2. In one Japan's longest running legal cases the Koreans have been fighting for their property rights in Utoro in the city of Uji, Kyoto prefecture. The SK government money has been earmarked to help the farmers retain the land they have lived on for sixty years.

On page 2 was news that North Korea had risen from last place in the annual press freedom survey from Reporters without Borders to second last place. That honour now goes to Eritrea. The Japanese were, meanwhile, congratulating themselves on rising to 37th place. South Korea is placed just behind them at 39th. Iceland and Norway top the league table.

Page 3 was headed by an interview with Shuichi Maeda, a veteran from WW2 who has some pretty grim recollections of his time in the army including his memory of the Korean women at the base.

On the letters to the editor page Vipan Chandra from Massachusetts defends the two Korean leaders. Why?

The Op-ed piece reports signs of progress of Pyongyang problem. I wish I had a dollar for every time we've heard that. As always 'The next few months is a delicate period...'. Does anyone remember a time when it hasn't been so?

In the business and finance section is the news that Microsoft has submitted a request to withdraw a court appeal against an antitrust ruling by the Korea Fair trade Commission. I think they've given up fighting the Korean legal system. There was a photo of of two models showing off new Microsoft products in Seoul that they have not chosen to put on their website.

Like the Koreans, the Japanese are also planning to ban the import of American meat, but only from one supplier who accidentally sent them some from cattle that were more than 20 months old.

And finally on the back page was the news that Seol Ki Hyeon the South Korean footballer who left Reading FC in August, thinks moving to Fulham was the best move of his career. And not just because he can get fresh kimchi just down the road in New Malden. (more from Sky Sports)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Blog Action Day : Recycling in Japan

Today over 15,000 blogs are participating in Blog Action Day. Bloggers around the world are writing about an important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment.

One topic that I am particularly interested in is the recycling of household waste. Here in Tokyo there are not as many categories of recyclable material as there were in Korea. Life was easier in the apartment block in Seoul, we could take everything into the basement and sort into the various receptacles. In Setagaya-ku we have to store up the materials and put out them out for roadside collection on different days of the week. This leaflet came round last month informing us of a new schedule which our friendly local shop owner helped us translate:

Setagaya ku recycling instructions in Japanese

Bottles, cans, newspapers and cardboard are collected Wednesdays. Plastic PET bottles, which have just this month started to be collected, go out every other Saturday but only after they have been washed and had their lids removed. Metals and other items also go out on alternate Saturdays.

Before this new regime started refuse was sorted into two types : burnable and non burnable which corresponded to the two methods of disposal: incineration and landfill. The definitions of the two types of waste were, to my mind, counter-intuitive. Paper and food waste were classed as burnable and went to the incinerator, whereas plastics were classed as non-burnable and went to landfill. Why would you want to bury something uncompostable and burn something that would easily decompose? The answer was in an article in the Japan times last week entitled Clueless policy persists as Japan burns the unburnables.

Not surprisingly finance and politics were the main drivers. In 1973 the capacity of Tokyo's incinerators was insufficient to handle the amount of refuse being produced. The priority for burning was raw garbage, since it was considered too unsanitary to bury. Plastic was deemed OK to bury, so in order to ease the burden on incinerators all plastic waste was separated and dumped in landfills. By 1997 incinerator capacity had caught up with demand and improved technology allowed refuse to be incinerated at a higher temperature.

Now, Setagaya-ku is one of several pilot neighbourhoods that are switching to incineration of plastic waste. This will reduce the volume of material going to landfill and also provide energy from the heat of combustion. The landfill site currently used for Tokyo will be full in 35 years, and this change will only extend the life of the dump by 15 years.

50 years is all we have in Tokyo until we are swamped in our own refuse. It may sound like a long time, but the problem of waste disposal does not go away. Think of the three R's : Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Individually it may seem like we cannot do much, but every bit helps. For example, if all 12 million blog readers involved in Blog Action Day recycled one aluminium can it would save the equivalent of 3 million barrels of crude oil and reduce landfill usage by over five thousand cubic meters.

What are you doing to save us from drowning in our own rubbish?

Some other links on Recycling in Tokyo:
Pink Tentacle on Cell Phone re-use
Other Items you can recycle from Dumb Little Man
The Azerbaijan view of Japanese recycling
The Kiwi's view of Japanese recycling

Monday, October 08, 2007

Korea Top News

Here's a new website I've just come across Korean Top News. It's a bit like Digg but dedicated to Korean news. You don't have to register to vote for your favourite story, but if you do register you can discuss the stories posted.

They have subscribed to lots of Korean blogs and some news feeds so there are automatically plenty of stories to view. PopSeoul and K-Popped seem to feature a lot, so I'm sure Rain fans will soon find the site and vote stories on him up to the top of the list soon.

It's part of the I choson Networks group which is based in the US and dedicated to Lifestyle, Entertainment and Culture for Korean Americans.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Internet Domain names in Hanguel and Kana

News in today's Japan Times that next week ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, will begin the long awaited start of Internationalised Domain Names (IDN). The AP news story is available here.

The plans are still under review, but once they are approved 11 new domains will be created that read example.test in Arabic, Persian, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Greek, Korean, Yiddish, Japanese and Tamil.

Discussion on using non latin alphabets for internet domain names started in 1996. The Japan times discusses the topic in 2001. In 2003 registration began for partially Japanese domain names in the .jp namespace. Request For Comment 3743 was created in 2004 and work has progressed since then.
The Korean IDN 휴대폰.com which translates as was sold for $36,194 in May 2007.

The technology used in the 13 key domain name directories will not change, instead the IETF have developed PunyCode to convert the new domain names into standard ASCII characters.

The testing document from the ICANN website suggests that the first totally Korean and Japanese IDNs will be :


in Hangul and


which is a combination of Kanji Hirigana, and Katakana.

The whole world will be able to test with these new domains, but just in case they cause any problems to the rest of the internet a 24hr hotline will established to suspend the test if required.

I forsee this development will require new versions of almost all software that validates website and email addresses, which is good news for us software engineers and the rest of the IT industry!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pro Blogger Birthday Bash Prize Give Away

I've mentioned Darren Rowse a couple of times before on this blog. I wrote the Top 5 Korean Festivals and included it in his group writing project. He has been blogging professionally for some time now and runs several well regarded blogs including about blogging.

To celebrate 5 years of blogging he is running a week of competitions open to bloggers, with prizes valued at over $54,000. In today's competition, one lucky blogger is going to win a pair of LG 20" LG USB monitors.

Well done to LG the South Korean company formerly known as Goldstar for producing such great monitors and for those clever adverts of well known paintings with LG products slipped into them. [Which I can't find any to show you right now!]

If you write a blog you have until Friday 8am EST to write a post and link to his site.