Bookmarks for May 24th through May 27th

These are my links for May 24th through May 27th:

  • Formulas and game mechanics – WoWWiki – Your guide to the World of Warcraft – Formulas and game mechanics rules and guidelines for developing role playing games
  • Manchester United’s Park Has the Endurance to Persevere – NYTimes.com – Korean soccer player Park Ji-Sung – On Wednesday night in Rome, Park is expected to become the first Asian player to participate in the European Champions League final when Manchester United faces Barcelona.
  • mloss.org – Machine Learning Open Source Software – Big collection of open source packages for machine learning, data mining, statistical analysis
  • The Datacenter as Computer – Luiz André Barroso and Urs Hölzle 2009 (PDF) – 120 pages on large scale computing lessons from Google. "These new large datacenters are quite different from traditional hosting facilities of earlier times and cannot be viewed simply as a collection of co-located servers. Large portions of the hardware and software resources in these facilities must work in concert to efficiently deliver good levels of Internet service performance, something that can only be achieved by a holistic approach to their design and deployment. In other words, we must treat the datacenter itself as one massive warehouse-scale computer (WSC). We describe the architecture of WSCs, the main factors influencing their design, operation, and cost structure, and the characteristics of their software base."
  • Geeking with Greg: The datacenter is the new mainframe – Pointer to a paper by Googlers Luiz Andre Barroso and Urs Holzle on the evolution of warehouse scale computing and the management and use of computing resources in a contemporary datacenter.

Bookmarks for May 19th from 08:04 to 19:24

These are my links for May 19th from 08:04 to 19:24:

  • List of Really Useful Free Tools For JavaScript Developers | W3Avenue
  • When Korean Culture Flourished – WSJ.com – In the geography of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the gallery devoted to Korea acts as a sort of land bridge between China and South Asia that all too often serves as passage rather than destination. The first in a series of shows to be held over the next 10 to 15 years, "Art of the Korean Renaissance, 1400-1600" may change this. With only 47 objects(!), the exhibition explores a fertile 200-year period in Korea's cultural history, revealing as much through its choice of works as it does through the order in which it displays them. The show's modest size makes the point that, sadly, little has survived from this period, when the Joseon — or Fresh Dawn — dynasty (1392-1910) united the Korean peninsula militarily, established Confucianism as the national ideology and introduced a phonetic alphabet.
  • Axiis : Data Visualization Framework – Axiis provides both pre-built visualization components as well as abstract layout patterns and rendering classes that allow you to create your own unique visualizations. Axiis is built upon the Degrafa graphics framework and Adobe Flex 3.
  • Report: Mint Considers Selling Anonymized Data from Its Users – ReadWriteWeb – A lot of people would be interested in that dataset. Tricky to balance data exposure with consumer privacy.
  • Lendingclub.com: A De-anonymization Walkthrough « 33 Bits of Entropy – Step by step look at de-anonymizing a consumer data set. Given alternate sources, you can fill in a lot of gaps.

Bookmarks for May 5th through May 6th

These are my links for May 5th through May 6th:

Bookmarks for April 12th through April 13th

These are my links for April 12th through April 13th:

Bookmarks for April 7th through April 9th

These are my links for April 7th through April 9th:

Bookmarks for March 6th through March 8th

These are my links for March 6th through March 8th:

Bumpy landing for Korea’s first astronaut

korean-astronaut-yi-so-yeon-landed 

The Russian Soyuz carrying Korea’s first astronaut, Yi So-yeon returned safely over the weekend, albeit 260 miles from the intended landing zone in what Interfax (Russian news agency) describes as a rough landing, exceeding 10g’s. Any landing you can walk away from is a good one.

Koreans — In Space

korean-astronaut-yi-so-yeon 

Yi So-yeon, the first Korean astronaut, went to the International Space Station today on a Russian Soyuz. She is a bioengineer by training, and will be conducting various experiments during the next nine days.

In addition, there has apparently been a lot of work making Korean food ready for space travel:

The Korea Food Research Institute and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute have spent years turning traditional South Korean delicacies into a form that can be stored and eaten in zero gravity, including steamed rice, red pepper paste, doenjang fermented bean soup, green tea, red ginseng tea, instant noodles, sujeonggwa cinnamon punch and, above all, kimchi – the pungent pickled blend of cabbage, chilli and garlic that is the national dish.

Anyway, it’s pretty exciting for Koreans, although this picture from the CNN article make her look slightly wacky, vaguely reminding me of visits to my aunt’s house when I was a kid.

Land of the Morning Calm

Land of the Morning Calm 

Namdaemun fire

This is sad news – over the weekend, the Namdaemun gate at the center of Seoul was destroyed by fire. The Namdaemun gate is over 600 years old and is designated as the top item on the list of Korean National Treasures. For some perspective for non-Koreans, it’s kind of like hearing that the Statue of Liberty, London Bridge, or the Eiffel Tower burned down over the weekend.

Pictures from the BBC 

Year of the Pig

Happy Lunar New Year. It’s the Year of the Pig.

Some are predicting conflict and misfortune:

“The Year of the Pig will not be very peaceful,” said Hong Kong feng shui master Raymond Lo…Pig years can be turbulent because they are dominated by fire and water, conflicting elements that tend to cause havoc, Lo said.

“Fire sitting on water is a symbol of conflict and skirmish,” he said. “We’ll also see more fire disasters and bombings.”

He noted that the Russian AK-47 rifle, a weapon of choice among insurgents around the world, was invented during a pig year.

“So it will not be surprising to see more gunbattles, murder with guns and bombing attacks in 2007,” he said.

Others see a good year for finance:

“Because of the water element in the Year of the Pig, the economy will continue to grow, which also paves the way for another round of interest rate hikes,” said Peter So, a celebrity fortuneteller in Hong Kong.

Not everyone is pleased with pigs:

While the pig is beloved by the Chinese, the animal is offensive to Muslims, who consider it unclean. For that reason, Chinese New Year celebrations have to be handled with care in Malaysia and Indonesia, mainly Muslim countries with large ethnic Chinese minorities.

North Korea tests a nuclear bomb?

North Korea has been threatening to test a nuclear weapon recently, and may have done so a couple of hours ago.

The test is “unconfirmed” at the moment, but South Korea says it detected seismic activity measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale at 0136GMT, or 10:36AM Korea local time. The presumed test site is underground, in a coal mine in Gilju.

It’s surprising to me that, given the advance warning, there isn’t an official confirmation that there was a nuclear test or not. There’s probably no shortage of equipment set up to monitor the situation, and I would expect a different signature for a nuclear explosion than from setting off a huge pile of RDX at the bottom of a mine.

There’s no shortage of countries that could build nuclear weapons if they wanted. South Korea and Japan in particular come to mind at the moment. More problematic would be Kim Jong-Il making a deal with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (or someone similar) to trade oil and hard currency for nuclear weapons technology.

Germanium Water

Germanium Water
This is a bottle of water I got recently while having a quick lunch at the Galleria Market (Korean grocery store) in Santa Clara. I was expecting a generic bottle of Arrowhead, Crystal Springs, or even Costco water, but this is apparently shipped in from Korea. The main selling feature is that it contains naturally occuring semiconductors.

Here’s what the label says:

Ge+Alpha is a pure natural mineral water which originates from the gold ore and sericite layers in the deep mountains. It is rich in essential minerals and contains 60ppb of organic Germanium.

The Geumgangsan Hot Springs in North Korea also features naturally occuring germanium water.

Apparently there are various claims that it’s good for your health, up to the point of curing cancer. I have no idea whether this is a good thing or not, but it’s pretty random. I tend to associate germanium with old transistors rather than drinking water.

Flying through hail is bad


I’ve been on flights through bumpy weather many times, but am happy to have missed this one. The nosecone (which houses the radar) came off, and there were cracks and holes in the wings and windshield.

”I could not see anything through the front windows because they were shattered. So I checked side windows when I tried to land the plane.”

All 200 passengers, including 177 elementary school kids, were uninjured.
Link, with video. (Reuters)

Summer internship at Freedom House North Korea


Passing this along for friends who may have an interest in human rights in North Korea, from The Korea Liberator:

Jae Ku, Director of Freedom House’s North Korea program, sends:

Dear Friends, I am in need of a Korean speaking intern (native, read and write) for this summer. This is a paid internship, to commence immediately. If you know of anyone, please have that person send me his/her resume. I am looking for someone who is mature and responsible. It is helpful but not necessary to have a background in human rights or North Korean issues.

Thank you,

Jae

Jae H. Ku, Ph.D.
Director, Human Rights in North Korea Project
1319 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
O) 202-747-7048
ku@freedomhouse.org

Links:

Dae Han Min Kook!

dae-han-min-kook costa-rican-section

Yesterday I went to see an exhibition match between the Korean and Costa Rican National Teams at the Oakland Coliseum. These are basically training games for the World Cup series starting later this year.

The Korean team did unexpectedly well in the last World Cup series in 2002, making it all the way to the semifinals, which precipitated huge street celebrations and instant celebrity status for the entire team. My wife, who generally has no interest in organized sports, was getting up at 3 in the morning to watch the games on Telemundo, which is representative of the level of interest among the general Korean community.

It’s fascinating to me to see that many Koreans in one place. As you can see in the pictures, the Korean fans mostly wore red (the team is called the “Red Devils”). Many people also had those red plastic things which seem to be mostly for the clapping part of the cheer “Dae Han Min Kook – clapclap clapclapclap”. It’s extremely loud when it gets going, and very impressive. I enjoyed the fact that everyone from young kids to elderly halmonis and harobogis were there and having an enthusiastic time together. Judging from the vehicles in the parking lot yesterday, some of the Korean churches in the area organized carpools for their members to the game in church vans.

There was a much smaller section of Costa Rican fans. Costa Rica won the match, 1-0, which gave them something to cheer about too, but the Korean side appeared to play better overall, with about 10 attempts on goal (of which two bounced off the post) vs 1 for the Costa Ricans, and seemed to have the ball most of the time.

Next week the Korean team is playing the Mexican National Team in Los Angeles. I suspect there will be a larger turnout on behalf of the Mexican team down there, although there are also many more Koreans in L.A. than here in the Bay Area. The good news is, the match is being carried live on Telemundo, so we get to watch it up here.

A Vicarious Tour Inside North Korea

During trips to China, I’m always intrigued by the departure boards in the Beijing airport showing flights to places like Pyongyang, Ullan Battor, and other parts of the world that are hard to get to from here. I’ve been to the South Korean side of the DMZ but the only way to get to the North is through China, and it’s not like you can just hop over for a weekend to take a look around.

north korea arirang festival mass games

In the meantime, here’s a fascinating series of posts with photos and video from Dan Schorr (not the reporter), who recently spent several days on a tour to North Korea, where he attended the Arirang Festival.

…we went to an event unlike anything I’ve ever seen: Mass Games. A tremendous, socialist mass art form in which thousands and thousands of people move in ultra-choreographed performances – gymnasts, soldiers, schoolkids, acrobats, and dancers with lights and music, with thousands more holding large cards that are flipped from color to color to create words and images as a backdrop. The last Mass Games was in 2002 – the next is supposed to be in 2008. They are planned to celebrate major events – in this case, the 60th anniversary of the liberation from Japan.

He also makes a trip to Panmunjon from the North Korean side, visits Kim Jong Il’s mausoleum, and checks out the casino for foreign tourists:

Definitely a weird place – chips were only in U.S. dollars, which I purchased with Chinese RMB. The dealers spoke Mandarin, and since casinos are illegal on Mainland China it was the first time I heard a casino dealer running a game in Chinese – and I had to come to North Korea for it. The playing cards said “Pyongyang” on them and I really wanted to buy a deck – perfect for my home game – but unfortunately they wouldn’t sell them. However, I was able to walk out with a few chips that say “PY” on them.

Dan’s lengthy posts also include many observations on the North Korean version of history and current politics, and on the members of his tour group:

Our guide also commented on George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” statement – she wasn’t too fond of it. But she did say that “normal American people are friendly.”

She also said that “North Korean people hate Bush,” to which one woman in our American tour group quickly replied, “We do too.”

As I mentioned earlier, in general I have no problem with people hating the President and saying so. Furthermore, showing the North Koreans that we can dislike our own leaders and freely talk about them in a negative way can be healthy because it is a stark contrast to their world in which their leadership must be revered and can not be questioned.

I had heard other similar statements on the trip, but this comment stood out and infuriated me even more because of the use of the word “we” – she was appearing to represent the whole group, including me. I didn’t want to get into an argument, but I had to speak up.

“Not all of us,” I said, and left it at that.

via BoingBoing
previous BoingBoing article on North Korea vacation promo (flash movie)

Panmunjom at the Korean DMZ on Google Maps


from Google Sightseeing:

When North Korea, China and the United Nations Command (UNC) signed the 1953 armistice which effectively ended the Korean War, they did so in a village called P’anmunjŏm. After the cease-fire was signed, construction began on a site located about one kilometre east of the village, the Joint Security Area (JSA). The three blue buildings straddle the border between North and South korea, and were designed and built by the UN to allow delegates from North Korea to enter one end, and delegates from South Korea to enter through the other. All meetings between the two countries have taken place in the JSA since its completion.


photo from Wikipedia

Korea’s plans for Ubicomp City

Korea has amazingly high penetration rates for broadband and cellular service. It’s cheap, fast, and widely available, and has been for several years now. This has made Korea a lead market for trying out new wireless and online services. Streaming broadcast and video-on-demand for all national networks is the norm. Next up: building a centrally planned, wired city called New Songdo, which will implement many of the ubiquitous / pervasive computing ideas that have been floating around for a while but never attempted at this scale:

New York Times:

A ubiquitous city is where all major information systems (residential, medical, business, governmental and the like) share data, and computers are built into the houses, streets and office buildings. New Songdo, located on a man-made island of nearly 1,500 acres off the Incheon coast about 40 miles from Seoul, is rising from the ground up as a U-city.

In the West, ubiquitous computing is a controversial idea that raises privacy concerns and the specter of a surveillance society. (They’ll know whether I recycled my Coke bottle?!) But in Asia the concept is viewed as an opportunity to show off technological prowess and attract foreign investment.

“New Songdo sounds like it will be one big Petri dish for understanding how people want to use technology,” said B. J. Fogg, the director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University.

If so, it is an experiment much easier to do in Asia than in the West.

“Much of this technology was developed in U.S. research labs, but there are fewer social and regulatory obstacles to implementing them in Korea,” said Mr. Townsend, who consulted on Seoul’s own U-city plan, known as Digital Media City. “There is an historical expectation of less privacy. Korea is willing to put off the hard questions to take the early lead and set standards.”

I think projects like these are going to need something like the AttentionTrust Recorder, or at least an OFF button, to let people see what’s being monitored about themselves and to manage how the information is made available. Without it, this might be a really cool place to visit but not somewhere you’d want to live.

(via TechDirt)

Now multi-lingual

translate this page
I’ve noticed in the server logs that many readers here are from non-English speaking countries.

You can now read an automatically translated version of this site by clicking on one of the flags over in the sidebar. Translation into Spanish, French, German, Portugese, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese is provided by Google, using Angsuman’s Automatic Machine Translation Plugin.

Machine translation can sometimes create silly output, but I’ll try this out for a while and see how people like it.

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