Entries for July, 2004

Kristof: Do not be so quick to call Bush a liar ... there are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed without turning to "kindergarten epithets."

Although I haven't seen Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore's shitty track record for "reporting the truth" has me quite worried that too many people will be influenced by his twisted messages...
Posted by roy on June 30, 2004 at 10:25 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments
You know, suddenly I understand why commenting is so important. What was the moron who made that script thinking????

(P.S. I'm only posting that because the new Tabulas is rewritten from the ground-up so none of that code will ever be used ;))

... You can tell I'm an amateur from that.

The posted file is one of the many functions that currently serve up entries right now

(some spoilers? maybe not)

Oh yeah, does anyone have any good book suggestions? I just finished "Guns, Germs and Steel" and I'm looking to enrich my mind some more while I work here in Korea. I bought "Godel, Escher and Bach" and Charles Barkley's "I May Be Wrong, But I Doubt It." Any other great books you'd recommend?

And also, one of my students took a picture with his camera phone ... of me and the "caricature" the students drew on the board before class. As you can tell, they fear me and have the upmost respect for me ...

Posted by roy on July 1, 2004 at 02:49 AM in Web Development, Tabulas | 22 Comments
I had no idea random people read my Tabulas so often.

Here are my general umbrella responses to various arguments made for keeping HTML templating.

1.) "Just let us have one"
The point is missed for you guys. The point here is that I think people really like that option, so giving them one free template will not do anything in the long run in terms of paid accounts. So giving you one free HTML template ... would be absolutely not be different than what the quota is set at now.

2.) "I love Tabulas, but free templating is the only thing keeping me here."
Then leave. I'm not holding a puppy hostage, threatening to kill it if you don't stay with Tabulas. You staying with Tabulas costs me money. So please, if the "no free templating" thing will make you move to Xanga (no free templating), Blogspot (no free templating), or Livejournal (no free templating), please go ahead.

3.) "The existing templates are all butt-ugly, and I need to be allowed to be creative."
This is the argument I can sympathize with the most. You are correct. I hate to see the same templates over and over again. But note that
there are new templates in development; my goal is to have at least 6-7 SOLID templates to use for ALL FREE USERS ... and note that you will still have access to the 'styling' sections of your control panel (the ones that control your site's color/font). So your journal will still NOT look like everyone else's journal ...

4.) "I can't pay you, but I would."
Right. For those of you in the US, I find it hard to believe that you cannot scrounge up $8 for a 3-month account. You can send money via snailmail (either by money order or check), and I find it very hard to believe that some people cannot obtain $8 (except those really really young kids, but you guys are disadvantaged on the web already).

Look, the argument boils down to this: "It is costing me far more to run this site than if I hadn't even created it. I need the money, and some of you need a little budge in the right direction to rightfully pay for a service you're having fun using." And since I am the creator of this site, I have the right to do the changes I see fit to help this site in the long run. I want your feedback, and it does mean a lot to me ... and in the ideal world, yes, I would offer all the features for free. But I would like to take this hobby and maybe one day make it a bit more. And to do that, I need to address financial concerns.

The new Tabulas 2.0 display/control panel is a lot better, so the whole pricing on the paid accounts makes it a steal compared to other sites like TypePad.

If any of you have a good legitimate suggestions on what I can do that would benefit most of us, feel free to comment below. Feel free to link this post to your friends if you feel the need to get more people involved in the discussion. I always love to hear back from the users.

Some clarifications:

1.) I am not in desperate need for money. As PM5K pointed out, I am not doing horribly with money since I have a temporary job here in Korea teaching SAT; right now these efforts are being made for the future... I need to get the ball rolling on starting to convert my users to paid, so I can reinvest that money into more servers ... and then in the long-run become a more 'professional' site.

2.) I do know the age distribution of Tabulas (this was posted a long time ago, but it comes down that most everyone is in high school and college). But I don't believe that the idea that "$10 is their next pizza or CD, so they won't purchase a Tabulas account." I do think that people, given the money, will pay ... even if they are broke. Most people who have paid accounts right now are within my age group ...

3.) Marvin makes a about finding what my target audience is. He makes a valid point that many people do write... but that is the older crowd. I would reckon people 20+ years of age use Tabulas to write, but people under 20 years of age mostly do it because it's "cool." Realizing that for some it's only a fad, those people _will_ make "impulsive" purchases ... and hopefully that will be a Tabulas account, instead of Britney Spears' latest CD.

Furthermore, those people who are capable of doing HTML have enough HTML knowledge that they may be aware that they have to pay for hosting to do their normal website; Tabulas is meant to supplant the whole "individual" hosting and to offer the tools that people use to make websites (journal, gallery, links page, hit logging).

So the idea behind making people pay for templates would not entice users who are doing this to write to switch to paid, but there are other great incentives for people who are simply doing this for writing in getting a paid account: categories, hit logging, (future) better syndication support, searching, (future) advanced community management.

4.) Google Adsense advertisements might be placed on free user's websites as well, but none of this will affect paid users. The advertisements will only be placed on specific free users' pages... if we feel the free user is using more resources than we feel is proper, we will start advertisement placing. Most likely it will be some sort of small equation (I feel weird using the word algorithm there) that will factor in when you joined, how often you log-in, and how often you post to determine whether you have passed the "threshold" or not. But this isn't totally set in stone; I may run a small beta test to see if the Adsense ads pay off at all before attempting to implement it on a wide scale across the Tabulas network.

However, I do feel that it would be a lot better to run the Pud-run MarketBanker on the control panel portion rather than pushing advertisements on the Tabulas journals themselves. I'm thinking something along the lines of "force people to go through an advertisement page everytime they post, or it won't post publicly" type of thing. Wouldn't be too hard to implement, and it might go over a lot better (then the burden is again on the writer and owner of the journal instead of the reader).

Disclaimer: Most of you know this, but since some of you are somewhat new ... I will never ever resort to any type of pop-up advertisements, graphical advertisements, or any selling of e-mail addresses to get money. Your privacy is incredibly important (well, since it's my privacy too!)
Posted by roy on July 2, 2004 at 08:00 PM in Tabulas | 30 Comments
Is there any proper umbrella etiquette for big cities when it's raining? On a crowded sidewalk, you cannot just walk with your umbrella; you must always raise your umbrella to prevent it from jabbing someone's eyes out. So who has the "right of way?" Who is the one who is required to raise their umbrella when two people are passing?

Is there any proper etiquette? The reason I ask is that I normally just usually raise my umbrella, but today I raised it and this other girl raised it at the same time, so there was some umbrella clashage. Not good.

It would seem to me that the best way to do this would be to have whoever is closer to the outer part of the sidewalk be forced to raise the umbrella. They could then also angle it 'out' (away from the other person) if the sidewalk is a narrow one...


On a related note, here is some subway etiquette notes:

- Wait until everyone gets off before running onto the subway. You are creating unnecessary chaos, just so you can run and get a seat? Quite being a lazy ass.

- At a big transfer point, do not f'ing stand at the door if you're not getting off. I cannot believe how many people do this. They just stand there and not move at a big transfer point. So not only do you have to deal with people who are trying to get on as 10 people try to get off, but this one asshole is blocking half the doorway.

- Quit grabbing my ass. I know I'm hot, but I'M NOT AN OBJECT. I HAVE FEELINGS. ;)
Posted by roy on July 3, 2004 at 09:31 AM in Ramblings | 15 Comments
This entry highlights exactly why blogging is so damn cool. It's Mark Cuban's thoughts on Steve Nash leaving to Phoenix via free agency... what a wonderful read.

I personally think that Nash got too much from Phoenix ...

My respect for Mark Cuban continues to grow...

Speaking of sports, is there nothing better for women's tennis than Maria Sharapova winning the women's Wimbledon?

Picture link ... and she's only 17! :o

/me inserts gratuitous "Anna Kournikova not being able to win a major" joke..
Posted by roy on July 4, 2004 at 01:05 AM in Ramblings | 4 Comments
Reasons why this whole Takeru Kobayashi winning the 'hot dog eating' contest is the coolest thing ever:

1.) Hot dog eating contest might be the only "sport" where winning means the worst possible pain ever.

2.) It's the only time being physically "in shape" means nothing.

3.) Mental. Mental... could you force yourself to gorge yourself with even 20 hotdogs in 12 minutes?!??! My goodness...

4.) Last name 'Kobayashi.' 'Nuff said

5.) Brings up interesting conversation regarding the techniques required to quaff 53 hotdogs in 12 minutes... 4-5 hotdogs a minute?!?!?

Just be careful, Kobayashi, and don't get yourself killed. Don't ruin this whole sport for the rest of us...

Oh yeah, random iPod stuff. My co-worker here has an iPod as well, so he brought in his Powerbook so I could steal from his MP3 collection. He's a legit artist, so he has good musical tastes ... and I gotta say the whole Phanton Planet CD is rockin' ... I thought they were a one-hit wonder, but the whole CD is very solid in a very chill way, although it reminds me of the Eagles too much (don't ask me why...)

(Completely unrelated web-development stuff)
Posted by roy on July 5, 2004 at 06:22 AM in Ramblings, Web Development, Tabulas | 10 Comments
The engineer who designed an 11-floor building probably didn't realize that if you only have two elevator shafts ... and one of them breaks, serving 11 floors becomes impossible. Because of this, I've had to climb up 9 flights of stairs for two days in a row. Good engineering, Korea!! Go buy a copy of SimTower and learn! Just kidding.

For some reason, this computer (the one I use primarily) decided that the USB port is gonna crap out. So... now I can't do any more webwork. Farker. It's running Win98, and even when I do a simple task, like loading up Control Panel, it freezes up for about 30 seconds before loading the Control Panel. Anyone know what's wrong?.

(I opened up the Control Panel, and went to System ... and opened up the USB part, and there are 3 USB root values... and 3 VIA Tech PCI to USB Universal Host Controllers. Should I uninstall two of each? Are they conflicting with each other? Someone came here and "reformatted" the system ... but I'm guessing they just tried to restore some old config which had bad USB settings? Someone help!)

My shirljangneem (vice principal at my school) finally saw my McDonald's girl, and said she wasn't "very ugly," but that she's not "pretty," either. :( Maybe I have bad tastes in people... even my ex-girlfriend never agreed with my "hot guys" list.

If you are a Hollywood exec or just someone who would enjoy the best movie script of all time, read my good friend Oliver's most recent post which has the best movie story ever.

Edit: Bloglines has a hot new layout (with features to boot!) for managing their RSS feeds. It's a bit different than the old minimalist layouts they used, but I think I could get used to it... (except the huge titles)... But it looks like Bloglines is also incorporating a "clipping" blog system ... kind of like Scoble's experimental blog ... will definitely be using this if it's smooth. Great for responding to posts quickly.

On a vain note, it looks like there are 6 total subscribers to this blog. Awesome 8)
Posted by roy on July 6, 2004 at 10:39 PM in Travel | 3 Comments
It will be 4 weeks after this week. And the kids are starting to get out of hand. I had to start assigning detention today to my kids, cause honestly I was just getting fed up with them.

I guess it was long coming ... a few of my classes would from time to time not do their homework ... or forget to bring their vocabulary cards from day to day. Up until today, I had been pretty forgiving. But earlier this week, I decided that it was time to clamp down on the delinquency. I started issuing warnings on the homework sheets (No homework = Detention) ... and then I finally followed through on my threats today. Both my "New Track SAT" kids were ok with it (I mean, as ok as you can get with getting detention), and I handed out about 6 detentions between those two classes. I guess they're younger, so they're more used to authority figures telling them what to do.

But oh boy. Another story in my afternoon class. The two kids who got detention in my afternoon class were complaining left and right. They didn't understand why not bringing their vocabulary cards was enough to hold them 30 minutes after class. So I had to explain to them that it was more of their general malaise towards the subject material. The guy, I think, understood. He regularly forgets his vocabulary cards ... to the point that I just got fed up with it. The other girl hadn't been doing her homework for the past few weeks, and when she did it, it was pretty half-assed. She did about 2/3 of the homework today (and I found out later she did absolutely no work for Joseph's class, the other SAT class they take). So the no vocabulary cards for her was the breaking point.

But then she starts giving me this sob story after class about her having so much homework to do by 9pm and she couldn't serve a 30 minute detention. And of course, earlier she tells me the night before she went to see Spiderman and spent the night out with her friends.

So then I bring wonjangneem into it, and the girl starts crying about it to her. Eventually wonjangneem lets her go ... but seriously, I was so pissed at my her. She dicks around yesterday, then whines when she gets punished. I mean, seriously ... this girl is about to apply to colleges and she can't manage homework from SAT?

I think I'm a pretty forgiving teacher, but maybe that's my downfall. I know some of my students take advantage of this, but I'm aware of when they do, and I do punish them accordingly. One of my students came up to me after my morning class and said quite honestly that he couldn't handle the workload cause he has other classes. That's fine! Just talk to me! But some kids ... jeez.

And I'm very forgiving when it comes to homework and vocabulary cards ... if you forget every once in a while, that's fine. But with some of these kids, this has turned into a habit that must be stopped. When they make it a habit to not do their homework, they are not going to learn.

But jeez, look who's talking. If any of my Carolina people are reading this, you're probably asking yourself, "Who is Roy to say these things?!"

I've turned into the type of teacher I hated... but this is high school, not college. ;) In any case, most of these kids lack discipline. They just don't care. And discipline is not something I lack ... so ... SHUSH.

Tomorrow is going to be a lovely day ... let's see if "disciplinarian" Roy can pound some discipline...

But my advice to any future teachers: Start off strict. You can always walk away from the authoritarian line ... but it's so hard to go back. Joseph told me this golden nugget of advice last weekend ... wish someone had told me before I started teaching.

Oh, but the things you learn 8)
Posted by roy on July 7, 2004 at 06:16 AM in Travel | 5 Comments
Looks like the NeoPages community had a logo contest and created a kickass logo:

Edit: Atomic, also known as Ben, was the one who won the logo contest.

And even better, it looks like they created a shop to sell NeoPages-branded goods.

Personally, I may just have to buy myself the NeoPages thong ...
Posted by roy on July 8, 2004 at 02:48 AM in Ramblings | 14 Comments
Today was a good day. I was stranded on the wrong side of Seoul, but I managed to book my ass and catch the last subway which ... ended on my stop! Word.

But, the best part of this story is that while on the subway ride back, there were two of the cutest girls I have seen in Korea so far. And this isn't one of those types of cute where I'm just judging them on one feature (like face), but overall they were very cute. Nice proportions (you'd be surprised how much of a problem this is...), very very cute faces, nice attire, nice attitude (well, just the way they carried themselves).

But the best part is that I saw one of them sizing me up a few times while I was on the subway (I saw through the reflection on the subway window) ... I'M WORTH SIZING UP!!! THIS IS A GOOD THING!!! I'M NOT TOTALLY BUTT UGLY!!!!!

No, but seriously. If you were on the 5th subway line (of Seoul) between 11pm to 12am on July 11th and were wearing a Lucia Girl (???) t-shirt and you wear glasses and you talk on the cellphone WAY too much, please comment below. I would like to meet you again.

If you were the girl wearing the hair thing and have that nose piercing and were on the 2nd subway line at the last stop on July 11th, I would also like to hear from you. I would like to know what your opinions were after you sized me up. You immediately stood in front of me after you sized me up, so I'm not sure whether I was supposed to size you up as well. If you didn't know, I did, and I think you are very cute.

Posted by roy on July 10, 2004 at 09:13 AM in Foolishness | 5 Comments
Phantom Planet's "The Guest" is an amazing album. Maybe I've just been listening to way too much crap lately, but I just love the simplicity of this album. And unlike other artists (*cough* Linkin Park *cough*) each song sounds DIFFERENT ... Just go download a few tracks and try it out (besides California, since everybody has heard that one now). Just a great chill album...

(Lyrics to my current favorite Phantom Planet song)

I got my digital camera finally. And wow. What the hell did Canon do? They created the *perfect* digital camera. Really. Everything I could wish for in a non-DLSR camera can be found here. I mean, are they trying to shoot themselves in the foot? Is there some stupid thing here where once the battery dies, I have to buy a new iPod pay $99 to Canon to get it fixed (Thanks, MacDaddyTatsu), like some unnamed Cupertino, California fruit-named computer company is doing with a MP3 player that rhymes with iPod? Honestly, I don't see myself buying another point-and-shoot digital camera for the next 3-4 years, short of a revolutionary feature change in point-and-shoot cameras. But I definitely see myself purchasing a DSLR from Canon (which I guess is much better, since then I pay for the body and start paying for all the lens and stuff ...)

Note that these are mostly first impression; I've only had a few hours to play with it today, but so far I'm totally impressed.

So to begin, I got the Canon G5 Powershot for $450 on eBay with an extra 128MB CF card, a carrying case, the wireless remote control, the 6-in-1 Flash Card Reader, and all the normal stuff. The camera is 5 megapixels (which I wasn't even aware of until I got it today, I thought it was 4 megapixels ... in retrospect I should of known since it's a G5). The body is made of plastic, which was kind of a downer for me, but as it later turned out, this was a good decision by Canon engineers; the thing is pretty light and you can handhold most exposures.

Although the size is slightly bulky for a "take around everywhere with you" type of camera, the features well outweight the slightly large size.

This camera is ideal for people who want to learn more about photography. This thing has aperture priority as well as a manual shooting mode so you can set the shutter speed and aperture manually. The aperture range goes down to f/2.0, which is great for DOF shots (pictures where the thing in focus is sharp, but everything else is blurred out). I'm spoiled by my Canon lens, so I was slightly miffed about the lack of good DOF, but for a point-and-shoot digital camera, the DOF is great. The manual modes are fully manual, which can be such a blessing ...

Note that this is *not* the camera you take out when you're seeing friends and you want to take pictures. This thing will probably not fit comfortably in a girl's purse or anything a guy should carry (men should NOT carry manbags!) ... I would stick with the Canon ELPH if you want a small camera...

The swivel digital screen is great for composing difficult shots, like this shot. You can also see some DOF in this shot (this was taken at the widest angle at f/2.0).

Now, for the quality. I found out last night this thing has some "panorama" feature that lets you take a bunch of pictures and stitch them together ... so I decided to try this out today and took a picture outside of my studio.

Well, I'll link you to the full-sized image (warning: it's like 6618x1024 or something ridiculous like that; I left it at fullsize). This was taken at "medium" resolution .... and the camera was hand-held. Not much digital aberration ... and look, you can even see a reflection of me in the door at the far right!

Amazing quality... I guess that 5 megapixel is really wonderful for these types of high-detail images... And the stitching software is really easy to use!

Speaking of the software ... I've had many gripes about hardware companies making SHITTY software to transfer the stuff over.

I guess I got an amazing deal on eBay, cause I got a "6-in-1 USB Flash Card Reader." I wasn't really sure what this was when I bought the auction, but now I know.

Let me show you a picture of what it is.

The silver box connects to your USB port; you input your Flash card into one of the 6 slots (it supports different types of cards), and then you input the small CD to install drivers that let the flash card be read DIRECTLY as another drive.

So let me rephrase this for those of you won't don't quite understand. I don't have to install shitty proprietary software just to transfer images. I just install a driver, plug that drive into my USB port, and drag the images via Explorer.

Yes. Amazing. So simple. Someone finally did it. And the size of that whole flash card reader is tiny; not bigger than my iPod (use my craptop as reference).

Some additional notes:
- The G5 has a built in neutral density filter (which I'm pretty sure is just a digital thing...) so you can set long exposures on purpose, which is really nifty.
- I'm totally getting spoiled from this G5, but wouldn't it be AWESOME if it had a built-in polarizer? Although that thing seems to really like glass reflection (which could be a bad thing):

- The thing is pretty intuitive to use, although I constantly try to use the actual lens to zoom instead of the zoom button (which is usually where the manual exposure control is on my Elan)...
- rechargeable batteries. w00t.
- the 'continuous' shot mode can store a bunch of pictures in the buffer, so you can just hold down the shutter and take like 4 continuous pictures in a row!

So for those of you who love to take pictures, but can't afford a DLSR or don't want to pay for expensive film cameras... this is seriously the perfect camera for you. It gives you total control, but the quality and size and feel of the camera is nice ... the swivel LCD screen is amazing and totally awesome to use for difficult to compose shots.

What's really awesome is that the people who bought this originally are starting to migrate to DSLRs (which this is really the perfects stepping stone for...) ... so you can usually find great bundled deals on eBay from individual sellers just looking to dump off their whole G5 set (which includes CF mem and stuff) pretty cheap. $450 was a STEAL for me, and the price can only go down!
Posted by roy on July 11, 2004 at 12:14 AM in Photography, Music | 17 Comments
With the arrival of my mom and sister to Korea, I also received two books I ordered from Amazon: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid and Charles Barkley's "I May Be Wrong But I Doubt It."

I went through the Barkley book pretty quickly; it's really entertaining and pretty interesting to see the point of view of one of the arguably best power forwards ever to play basketball.

In any case, the reason I mention this is there was one line in the book that just stuck to me; Charles Barkley is writing about a piece of advice Moses Malone told him (I'm paraphrasing because I don't have the book with me right now): "You can work your ass off and you're not guaranteed to make it, but I can guarantee you that if you don't work your ass off, you won't make it."

So true. Life is a crapshoot ... let's hope I got some luck headed my way.

Someone needs to get Charles Barkley blogging. The whole book just screamed as an edited/organized blog. Barkley really has a lot of interesting stuff to say ... SOMEONE, please get Charles Barkley blogging!

In any case, sorry for the lack of responses/posts. They've been working my ass off at the hakwon; I taught for 9 hours today ... including the preparations and grading I had to do...

... yeah, it's been a long day.
Posted by roy on July 13, 2004 at 06:27 AM in Travel | 7 Comments
Phillip Greenspun has some interesting ideas for education. In essence, he is asking the question, "Is it totally necessary to put kids through public schools now that transportation and communication costs have gone down so much?"

It's something I was pondering while working here. Granted, many families cannot still afford the high price of education of "private schooling," but many families here in Korea are willing to shell out $2400 (which is a huge sum of money in won) for a 8 week course to prepare their kids for the SATs. Most privileged Korean families end up sending their kids overseas for studying, since learning English is quickly becoming a "required" skill for Koreans.

So would it be better for high school kids to do the same in the States? I would say absolutely. I left my high school after my junior year because I got sick of the banality of public schooling ... I figured college was much more exciting and intellectual stimulating. Imagine if you're 16-17 and you're being sent overseas to study for a year in a country you have an interest in learning. Not only are you growing into your own person (I have to say, travelling overseas by yourself is the best way to learn about yourself), but you are also learning valuable skills (a new language, new cultures), which can help you develop new perspectives on life.

On a personal note, I feel that being away from home has helped me grown closer to my parents; I found myself composing long e-mails to my family while overseas ... being so lonely.

The things you learn from overseas are invaluable; they are much more valuable than learning the stupid "filler" things that public schooling teaches.

As a note: I realize Phillip is also speaking about sending to private schools domestically. I'm addressing more of the "sending overseas" type of thing, since the price difference wouldn't be that huge...
Posted by roy on July 13, 2004 at 10:15 PM in Travel | 1 Comments
My class starts in three minutes, so I don't have much time to elaborate, but:


Paid users/beta users should be able to access it. A lot of work needs to be done, but the infrastructure (foundation) of the new site is done. I can now add additional features with relative ease.

The list of "to-do" things to be done can be found at http://my.tabulas.com/users/about.php

Check it and leave me some feedback below. 8)
Posted by roy on July 13, 2004 at 11:59 PM in Tabulas | 3 Comments
What's the deal? CNET acquired WebShots.com, while Google acquired Picasa. Both are photosharing sites.

Sometimes I wonder if I should be at home, working on these sites... things are getting "so" hot in the social networking scene... :sigh:
Posted by roy on July 15, 2004 at 07:47 AM in Web Development | 1 Comments
There are a lot of things about Korea I don't like, but the thing I hate the most is the obsession with education. Education, is of course, quite important in raising yourself in the great Ladder of Success, but the thing most people forget is that the education taught in schools is not real education. Education taught in schools is merely meant to put you in the right mindset to learn what you really want to learn.

The discipline that my parents forced when I was younger (of which I was quite resentful during my high school years, but appreciate now) merely set the stage for me to pursue "real" education in things I love ... to help prepare me to go out into the "real world" and compete.

In any case, I received an e-mail from the wonjangneem (head principal) at my hakwon (private school). It was addresssed to the teachers at my school (specifically me and Joseph, since we are the only SAT teachers).

Apparently one of the parents lodged a complaint against our school to both the wonjangneem and the main SAT branch in Apgugeong (we're just a satellite branch) ... saying we were "talking about non-SAT stuff in class" and the "pace of homework" was not satisfying.

Now, let me say here what the kids are subjected to on a daily basis in our SAT program.

The program is 4 hours long (2 hours of reading or writing, and two hours of verbal and math) and are also required to learn 75 vocabulary words a day. They are assigned closer to one hour of verbal lesson a day and 30 minutes of math lesson every two days (3 lessons a week, each lesson is supposed to be 30-40 minutes, although some students take more time than that). And that is just my class. They are also assigned massive reading/writing assignments by Joseph (I know for a fact it's at least 2-3 hours a day worth of stuff).

So the "pace of homework" is definitely NOT slow or "delayed" in any way.

Now, understand that Korean parents, in their effort to deflect the actual burdens of parenting onto anyone willing to accept the burden, decide to enroll their kids in as many hakwon classes as possible.

So these poor kids, on top of having to be here for 4 hours, are usually enrolled in many other classes, all that assign hours of homework on a daily basis.

These kids get back home at about 9pm and begin studying... they barely sleep to finish their homework, then show up for class, dead tired.

So I decide that I should try to keep these kids awake (they learn nothing while sleeping), I try to be funny and tell things that might really interest them. And parents complain?

Excuse me if your short-sightedness prevents you from realizing that a SAT class is a full-time commitment and you overextending a kids natural ability to study and learn is not resulting in improving grades ... but the blame should not fall on me.

But yeah, "Mokdong" moms are really scary. They don't know, but they're all control freaks, and that makes a dangerous combination.
Posted by roy on July 16, 2004 at 01:43 AM in Travel | 9 Comments
There's a general misunderstanding by the hoi polloi (#) about the nature of the Internet.

There is no expectation of privacy online. The Internet is by nature a public place. Everything you post, everything you read, every site you visit is being logged somewhere. Even on Tabulas, although I've disabled access_log (this file tells you who accessed what file at what time), there is a hit tracker program built into the site that lets the site's owner (if they're paid/beta) to see who is visiting what pages from where.

I'm amazed when people find privacy problems with websites they thought were "okay." Amazon remembers every little thing you do on a site.

One of my co-workers came up to me and was talking about how he wouldn't use GMail since it "could be read by Google." Of course, he also mentioned that the NSA actively monitors e-mails. Big surprise. My stance on privacy has not changed for years ... when it comes to e-mails and posting online, I have absolutely no expectation of privacy. If someone wants to read my e-mails, let them.

I've gotten to the point where I'm not bothered by it. I rather that Joe Average not read my e-mail, but if some computer or NSA person wants to read me e-mails, feel free. I have nothing to hide, so I don't particularly care if someone reads my e-mails.

Of course, the funniest part of this whole thing is how hard people try to create privacy on the web. I'm not saying it's a bad thing or that it's not possible ... but so much work is done to "control" who can get what information.

For example, people open up a Tabulas account. Then they de-list it from the search engines. They create a pseudonym. They don't ever mention names. But then someone will inevitably find their site and link to their name and the site, and Google will pick up on this and begin to show their site in the listings. And the whole house of cards comes crumbling down.

What's the point to this article? I'm not criticizing anyone who tries to create privacy on the web in anyway, nor am I condoning the reading of e-mails by the NSA or any other company (as benevolent as they may seem to be) ... my point is simply this: Everything you do on the Internet is inherently public. Have no expectations of privacy

I have a feeling one day someone will take something from this public journal (even if I take it down, I'm sure archive.org has cached it to some degree) and put it completely out of context. But that's all right. I'm putting myself out there ... to be criticized. It's the risks you take in trying to be heard.

As a side note, Korea has blocked access to LiveJournal, BlogSpot, and TypePad due to the Korean beheading thing. This follows directly in the wake of China blocking the same sites... it's ridiculous. For a country that supposedly embraces a lot of democratic ideals, they sure don't like any information critical of their government.

For those of you who are in Korea and are blocked from reading your favorite sites, you can either use RSS to get around the block (use an aggregator to grab the RSS feeds) or use UniPeak, a free online proxy server. I've been using Unipeak to read Blogspot, TypePad, and Livejournal ... (I just found out about this site yesterday).

I also read in the newspaper here that there is still an "official" ban on "red books" (books about Communism). Although you can go and buy these books at any bookstore, there technically is still a law that punishes people who own these books, but the law is only used to go after government critics (does this sound like anything in America? HMMMMM).

Assuming that blogging is closely related to democratization (a far-out assumption, I know), you have to bring a grassroots blogging community to these sites. Nothing as shallow as CYWorld (The Korean equivalent to Xanga on steroids)... but something deeper than that. Do you really think the Korean govt would shut down a profitable blogging division (equivalent to TypePad) of a Korean chaebol?

(Tabulas speculation?)
Posted by roy on July 17, 2004 at 12:42 AM in Ramblings | 4 Comments
Today was wonderful. I slept in, then ate some ramen for lunch. Then... I worked on the community page for Tabulas.

If you have beta/paid status, you can test out the site here, but as you can probably tell, it's not polished at all.

I've been mainly working on the UI of the site since the main bulk of the scripting is done (the hardest part now is the pagination system).

Over the last few days, I've gone through multiple different layouts, then decided the best one would be the one that is most similar to the control panel... so I decided, although I'm not completely sold yet, on using this layout.

The most important thing in that layout is not the 'general' layout, but the small little details you see. I actually have most of this HTML mocked up, and it's functional with the JavaScript; there are controlled "disabled" select bars, and I got the "move between network and search options by hiding and showing layers. I'm pretty proud of these simple Javascripting features ... becase I did them myself 8)

Hopefully I can get this mockup done tonight ... and get at least the user directory updated on the test site with this new layout and UI by tonight/tomorrow night.

EDIT: I actually kept my word and uploaded the site. For those of you with paid/beta status, check out the new site HMYA. The only troublesome problem is that the left side does not "remember" if you select a specific country (this has to do with the fact that I had to hardcode the radio buttons ... but this *will* be fixed.

Quick notes: Do not use the network button. There *will* be a "sort by today / days ago / weeks ago" feature. And yes, nothing else on that page works. The pagination for any data set larger than 8 pages is a mess ... (but the pagination for less than 8 pages works fine!)

Tell me how you like the new site (all one of you who actually read my journal ;))

I'll probably fix up the rest of this section and upload the community sections ... and then make an official announcement in the main tabulas journal sometime this week.
Posted by roy on July 18, 2004 at 01:44 AM in Web Development | 10 Comments
hahahaahahahaha ha ha hahaahahahahaha hahahahahahah

Guess the private sector isnt' that good at allocating resources... or maybe it's just Duke.

But seriously. "Creative" and "educational" uses? What is this? Basically encourage kids to download MP3s? "Educate" them on the ridiculousness of copyright and DMCA laws when the RIAA comes knocking on their doorsteps?

Yeah, right.

This week, I will be logging approximately 48 hours of work. In 4 days. Somebody shoot me.
Posted by roy on July 19, 2004 at 11:45 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments
surprisingly, i'm not totally exhausted after working ... 12 hours a day for three days. my first foray out into the real world isn't too bad 8)

a quick note: i think i'm getting old. i have reached a point where i have no clue how technologically advanced stuff is getting when i buy it.

for example, i knew my digital camera could shoot movies, but i did NOT know it did SOUND with the movies! what the heck?!?!!? one of my kids accidentally shot a movie of class and there was sound. i was amazed!

in any case, here are some random pictures:

(big pictures ahead)

Posted by roy on July 21, 2004 at 07:36 AM in Travel | 3 Comments
Cuing the music for "Planet of the Apes..."

And I for one welcome our new gorilla overlords...
Posted by roy on July 21, 2004 at 11:03 PM in Foolishness | 7 Comments
"I'm sorry, but I don't remember you."

When I was a wee little lad, I used to think I was good at remembering faces and names. But lately, I've been questioning whether I lack the capacity to remember people for more than a few years.

Earlier during this summer, my hakwon got a call from someone who claimed to know me. Long story short, the woman and her son came in and were all like "LONG TIME NO SEE" while I'm just standing there like, "What the heck? Who are you?"

So embarassing.

It's not that I don't care, it's just that I'm really really really bad with faces and names. So please, don't take it personally.

Today a bunch of people who used to live in Raintree Apartments in Tonawanda had a little get together ... my mom, my sister, me, and two other ladies with their daughters (one with two older daughters than me, and one with a daughter my sister's age).

I have got to say. Those two girls (the older ones) are really pretty. Probably the prettiest girls I've seen so far. But too bad they're like 4 years older than me or something. And too bad I'm so ugly :(

But I did vaguely remember all the people there (this was when I was about 7-8 years old)... their mannerisms started to remind me of my past.

Posted by roy on July 24, 2004 at 03:54 AM in Ramblings | 3 Comments
Tabulas User Directory has been updated (after logging a few hours at the local PC cafe).

Notable changes:
- Page now "remembers" all settings you used to search with
- Nasty state bug (where it says everyone is from a certain state) has been fixed
- The last updated is stored statically now and you can use the "sort by last updated' parameter to find people
- You can input a keyword phrase (3 char minimum) that will limit the search to a specific phrase. This is using the simple '%PHRASE%' wildcard in mySQL. The username field is indexed, so this doesn't affect performance too badly.
- You can jump directly to a page.

Things to fix (still):
- Pagination is still a total mess. I'm going to rewrite the whole pagination system from scratch.
- "Network" function still does not work ... I've taken the link off and will implement it once it's done.

Besides that, tell me what you think... 8)

(Really random Tabulas happenings)

Edit: The user directory (minus the 'network' feature) is now *done*. Please, for those of you with access, test it out and make sure it ALL works properly. You will be doing me a big favor 8) I want to post this to the main Tabulas journal sometime within the next 24 hours ... and then get started on the community feature.

Post bugs as comments below...
Posted by roy on July 24, 2004 at 09:28 PM in Web Development, Tabulas | 23 Comments
Time to come out from behind the mask and try to give a personal face to Audiomatch.net

Hi, my name is Roy. I am currently a student at UNC-CH. I am responsible for the front-end work on Audiomatch.net, while Apu is responsible for all the backend work (which is the really impressive stuff, I'm just a coding monkey).

So onto what happened with Audiomatch ...

In short, we've had to temporarily shut down Audiomatch.net. This is because the mySQL server that powers the site is being overloaded (primarily from my other other project).

However, I did find a job this summer in Korea, and I will have some cash to spend on some new hardware for Audiomatch (~$110/month, along with the current $110 I pay for the frontend service). When i do purchase this hardware, we will roll out Audiomatch.net 2.0 (no release date, but "whenever we're done," which I want to ideally by late August). In essence, it will feature a rewritten plug-in (done), a better website interface (being worked on), and a simple API you can use to "pass through" all data to another website (will full documentation on how to use it; if you know how to upload PHP files, I will write a small script that will let you upload all data that gets sent to Audiomatch to your own website. What you do with that data is completely up to you.

We've also been passing around cool ideas that will make MP3 management a lot easier; the idea is to make Audiomatch.net a passive service that gives you great metadata on what you (and your friends listen to) while also "cleaning up" your collection of bad metadata (more on this later).

We've mentioned this before, but we will be requiring a small fee to use Audiomatch.net. We don't intend on living a life of luxury with this money; all we want to do is be able to purchase more hardware and expand the service.

We truly believe what we're doing is for your benefit; in the end Apu and I want to create a kickass service that makes our lives easier (you see? We're not _completely_ altruistic... most of these features are demands that we wanted personally ;)).

So what's going to happen? Well, we're going to leave AM shut off for the next few days; I work pretty much 12 hours a day (I teach SAT), so I want to really take a crack next weekend at restoring limited service (maybe just the images will come back).

For any comments on whether we would accept donations, I really dont' want to go there quite yet. I'm not quite comfortable accepting money for this service (which sucks right now). Furthermore, donating right now would not expedite the return of the service.

Please also refrain from posting hosting offers 8).

Thanks for your understanding, and I hope I can hear back from some of our more devoted fans on how to improve the service!
Posted by roy on July 25, 2004 at 05:45 AM in | 25 Comments
If the server was within physical reach of me right now, I would recreate the infamous printer scene from "Office Space" right now.

So I'm sitting there discussing a reading passage with one of my students. I ask her a question, and all of a sudden she starts busting out laughing. I'm like, "What's so funny?"

Her response?

"Your face."

Honestly, is it THAT bad?

Posted by roy on July 28, 2004 at 12:14 AM in Ramblings | 7 Comments
We're almost done with the 7th week of a 8 week program, and the kids are getting frustrated. A few of them have dropped out over the past few weeks, and it pains me to see one of the situations turn really ugly.

There was this one girl who I feel is quite bright, but never quite applied herself. In class, she would give off the impression that she just didn't care, but her mom called and told wonjangneem yesterday that she had not learned algebra yet (which I think might be a misunderstanding on the part of the mom; how do you get to the 10th grade without algebra?) ... so she has pretty much dropped out. I wish she had told me beforehand that she had that much trouble with math ... I would of been more than willing to help her if she felt she was deficient in math.

It's interesting how parents complain; it never strikes them that it's the responsibility of the student to perform to the best of his of her abilities, and the teacher merely to lead. The teacher should not have to battle the kids in order to get them to do their homework.

I know I'm a horrible student, but I never never placed the blame on any of my college professors; I know that deep inside is just this THING where I cannot attend or study for my classes ... but I don't deceive myself by blaming others for my problems.

I just hope when I grow up that I can learn not to be blinded by the fact that my own flesh and blood is not perfect... I think a lot of parents would do a lot better to know that their kids are not the wonderful kids they thought they might be ...

In terms of a question I posed a long time ago (is it better to be an authoritarian teacher or a peer teacher?) ... I am definitely the peer type of teacher. But what I've found is that once you build that rapport, you have to manipulate the kids to push themselves ... the kids will always try to do a little less homework with a peer teacher, and so the peer teacher must always assign more homework than necessary ... so that when it seems like the kid is getting out of work, they're in actuality only doing less of a lot of homework (make sense?).

I definitely am learning so much about teaching and learning ... so much.

. . .

Another note ... I find myself analyzing social situations a lot more. Maybe it's my Asian heritage, but I'm always trying to find the "right" way to handle situations.

Case in point: I was working the last shift (I usually end up closing the hakwon ... as they gave me a key since I teach late) tonight ... as I was finishing up, I heard a rustling in the main front office. I peeked in (admitedly I was a bit startled) ... and noticed the secretary was back! She apparently was sent on an errand from the wonjangneem (she lives close by) and had to stop eating her dinner (poor thing!).

Now I know how scary it is to be in the hakwon alone at night, so I decided to be nice and started grading my papers in the front office with her doing her errand... while I was grading papers she got her errand done. Then she called her mom and told her to meet her at the bus stop.

Anyways, I went back to the classroom to drop off the graded papers and came back; she was browsing Yahoo! for clothes.

The question in my mind was: "Should I stay and do some more work until she leaves since being alone in the hakwon is scary?" or "Should I just leave?"

Asking her if it was OK to leave was pointless in my mind, as either she knew that being alone was scary and would leave with me since she wasn't doing anything, and if she didn't think it was scary, asking her if being alone was OK wouldn't ease her mind at all...

I decided that since she wasn't doing anything, she would of left with me if she was scurred to be alone in the hakwon, so I just told her I was leaving.

So yeah. Totally random and pointless, but damn I need to write.
Posted by roy on July 28, 2004 at 05:47 AM in Ramblings | 6 Comments
I was eating dinner at the local restaurant (galbi!) when I realized that a Korean drama was on ... naturally I was a bit curious so I started watching.

I couldn't really hear it too well, but the basic gist was that a girl was really mad at a guy, and the guy got mad at her too. I mean, really mad.

The girl hit him a few times, but he restrained himself. The scene ends, and the opening scene opens up on a closeup of a cup.

A cup? What the heck? What happened?!

The camera slowly pans out, and you see it's the same guy drinking himself some water. But he's angry. So when he pours his water, he's sloppy. HE EVEN SPILLS A BIT BECAUSE HE'S SO ANGRY!!!!!

Eager to quench his bloodlust, the angry guy drinks the whole glass of water ... at once.

So remember, guys ... if you're super-pissed off, go pour yourself a glass of water angrily. It really helps to release all that pent-up anger.
Posted by roy on July 28, 2004 at 11:18 PM in Foolishness | 6 Comments
Ah, the joys of the Tabulas front page. Instead of finishing the community search feature, I've been focused lately on fixing up the front part of Tabulas.com (the main front page).

The problems with the Tabulas front page:

Posted by roy on July 29, 2004 at 07:17 AM in Tabulas | 1 Comments
I'm lazy, so I'm not going to write my own arguments, but rather link to well-written articles by other people.

1.) South Korea's broadband push has changed the nation ... and how can the Americans learn? Being in Korea and seeing how the people use the Internet has definitely changed some of my perceptions on how to run my sites; it has definitely been a learning experience.

2.) The best political-themed entry I've ever seen.
I used to be a know-nothing. Now I think I know it all.

Why? I watch CNN and MSNBC and Fox News and saw that movie Fahrenheit 9/11 and listen to talk radio and have seen all the political commercials and even watched the first night of the Democratic National Convention. I have read the cartoons in Newsweek and I have paid strict attention to those really funny satirical politically-themed flash movies on the Internet.

Basically, I'm ready to vote. Not.

Just like people watch TV and think they know what goes on in the World (without actually, physically going to such places), a majority of people collect their information from the news media and think they're hearing everything and thus, they know who they're going to vote for. I, personally, have flipped back and forth as new tidbits of information come my way. This person helped the Bin Laden family leave the country. This person opposes the war. This person is an idiot. This person is a waffler. This person, that person, this person, that person.

I feel the same way. Therefore I have given up caring about the 2004 elections. If you care, I will be voting for Michael Badnarik. Do I know anything about him? Nope. But it's not as if I know much about Bush (motto: "uniter, not a divider") or Kerry (motto: "Let everyone else do the talking, while I stand around until I get elected") anyways.

In any case, Arnold King asks, "can you beat something with nothing?"
Democrats are of the opinion that President Bush's policies have been so transparently awful that voters should be eager for an alternative. If that is the case, then there is no need for excessive caution. The Democratic nominee could risk taking some clear stands. Instead, Kerry gave us nothing but feel-good rhetoric and promises on energy, the Budget, trade, and foreign policy that everybody knows are phony.

President Bush has a record. John Kerry is still undefined. Can you beat something with nothing?

Food for thought.
Posted by roy on July 30, 2004 at 01:23 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments
Friday ... finally glad the week is over.

(some pictures)
Posted by roy on July 30, 2004 at 09:44 AM in Travel, Photography | 8 Comments
I've been at a Internet cafe for the past few hours, uploading and troubleshooting the new Tabulas front page (check out what I've done so far) ... and one person at this cafe has the nerve to play Billy Joel on the computer speakers.

But it's not just the fact that he or she is playing "Uptown Girl" on the speakers loudly. Apparently he or she REALLY loves this song. I mean, REALLY. It's been on repeat for the past 26 minutes.

Someone kill me.

(now that i've got the humor out of the way, check out some notes regarding the new tabulas front page)
Posted by roy on July 31, 2004 at 06:52 AM in Tabulas | 15 Comments
I wasn't going to come back here, but such anger has been aroused that I must vent it out.

Originally this was posted as friends-only, but I'll unlock it. What's the purpose of having a weblog if I'm not afraid to express those paroxysms of anger that make us human? It's not as if any of you expected me to not be a spiteful person, right? ;)

(major ranting ahead, not the the faint-hearted)
Posted by roy on July 31, 2004 at 07:59 AM in Ramblings | 8 Comments
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