Monday, April 25, 2011

"Mind" -> Getting to the InterContinental COEX in Seoul

This is one of those very practical blog posts for the very specific reason of getting from the Seoul internal airport to the Intercontinental Hotel near COEX.  When we asked the office to help us get to the office, we found out that it would cost $150 for a dedicated limo.  Our company culture is basically cheap, so we said that we would take a bus from the Incheon Aiport.  Going by bus would cut $135 out of the fare.

So I was into the country first, with my travel companion 12 hours behind (he says he can sleep on the plane).  I figured that the least that I could do was document how to get the bus trip done for somebody that wants to follow.

Now, I was coming in from LAX, but is really doesn't matter, because obviously the first thing you need to do is get off of the plane.  They should give you a couple of forms to fill out on the airplane before you land.  One is a normal form to present at passport control and the other is a folding form for customs.  Pretty standard stuff and not worth pictures or more description.

Now, I don't try and take a lot of pictures around airport security people because I think they are told to tell everybody no pictures.  There are so many people with cameras, however, they can't catch everybody.  However, I normally don't take super obvious pictures.

 It was interesting this year as they had a quarantine type area behind me.  I stopped to get our my passport and boarding pass.  Once I got into the terminal, they completely waved me through as they waved everybody else through.  What was going on.

You keep going looking for the baggage claims signs like every other airport in the world.  I always marvel how English is used as such a universal language.  Good for me.

The picture below is where I'm trying to be subtle, but the purplish/red video sign is for foreigners.  We didn't tarry long here, as the line was quick.





Once you get through passport control, you should see some type of a arrival sign, which is just above the baggage claim.  Because I fly business class, I take two pretty good sized bags with me (one for basically electronics and the  other is a standard rolling bag.


 I'm not showing the baggage and customs area, because it is like any other customs and baggage area in the world.  I'm also worried that they'll spot me as a crazy picture taking guy and take away my camera.  However, I will say that you should look at the people taking your customs declarations.  There were two exiting the area before you get out to the transportation area.  One was a young eager guy that was backing up quick as he was looking inside bags and looking suspiciously at little children and checking their stuffed animals.  I looked up and I was in this line.

I quickly switched to the other line which had an old guy grabbing the forms and waving people through.

Once you get out of customs clearance, you have the normal areas for arriving passengers like about any other AP international airport.  To get the ticket for the bus you need to go outside.  Any door like the following



The ticket booth is in the picture below.  The great news is that they take all credit cards, including American Express.  The most important thing to know is you bus number. If you look at the very first picture in this post, you can see that they highlighted bus is 6103.  I'm glad that I had my PC, because this what the guy at the window wanted, and without this picture, I probably couldn't have communicated as well, although he did speak some English.




The ticket looks like the picture below, although I have no idea where 6103 is listed. The most important thing is the gate to leave, which is really just a sign on the street behind me.  And that number is circled.  It was 10B.  Although you can walk out into the middle of the street, these bus are the ones right next to the airport.  So don't go out too far.



I have no idea why the image is rotated up, because this was not how it was taking, but I don't know if there are assigned seats.  It really didn't matter as there was only three people on the bus including the driver.  They will put your bags down under the bus and hand you a claim ticket.  Make sure to hold on the claim ticket!  Although I was the only one with the check bag, at the other end they really wanted my claim ticket.  Must be the rules.



As you can see the bus was deserted and the hour was fairly late at about 7pm.


I took the video above, but my voice is a little hushed.  I didn't want to seem to be the crazy American tourist taking pictures, although I guess that I am.  I was surprised at the length of the trip.  Although it was 8pm when going through Seoul, the traffic was pretty strong during the final 30 minutes or more.  It took  1:22 hour:minutes to get to the picture below.


Although this is an express, they do stop about 2 blocks before the final stop for the Samsung subway entrance.  One guy got off and I was the only one left. They only minor tricky part, is once you are in the bus terminal, make sure to take the following elevator down to the first floor so you can walk the final distance.  If you just go out the doors, you will be taken to the taxi stand, which may be okay if you want to take a taxi.  There are a lot of them ready to go.  Really slick.






Now the hour  was late so I look these the next day.  In my case, I have a Blackberry from work and the great thing is that I have Google Map loaded.  Because my work will allow international data, my google maps was working.  However, it was dark by the bus stop, so I didn't take any pictures.  The only thing you should know, is you go down the elevator and it will take you right outside.  If you go to the right, you will be going south.  If you go right, you will be going north.  It is about a 5-7 minute walk to the north.




 Here is the front of the hotel.



The check-in is to the right. You just right over my collar is the elevator.

If all goes right, you should be in your room in 17 minutes after leaving the bus, and the next morning you should wake up to the local scene looking like this.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Spirit" -> David and Saul

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri painted this picture of Saul attacking David around the 1600.  For thousands of years, the divide between David and Saul has been talked and preached about.  However, I wonder if we really understand the gist of the real difference between them.

The challenge of Christianity is that a bunch of stuff is written down that you don't want to have written down, and what you want to have written down isn't.

However, the tradition of our religion is that you can extract meaning and insight from reading and meditating on it. For example, an important story in the Bible is the foundational story of Saul and David. This story can be read or talked about 100 times, and still something new can be pulled out of it.

It is easy hear the differentiation between David and Saul that is preached every Sunday.

"Saul was a bad man who didn't wait for the Lord's prophet to sacrifice to the Lord," says the preacher on one Sunday.

Wait a bit longer, and you'll hear, "David did a horrible thing of taking another man's wife and killing her husband."

It strikes me that both of these guys were pretty bad in their own way.  David had a problem with women and his children.  When his son rape his half sister, David did nothing other than banish his son.  If we look at Saul's most noticeable child, Jonathan, he turned out pretty good.  Contrast that with most of David's family, Saul may look he produced the better family, in the long run.

So while neither one was any type of an angel, it strikes me that a critical difference is the way that they handle demotion. Once Saul had gotten to the pinacle of his career, he was desparate to hang onto what he had. He was going to fight any and all people that would take away his power.

The idea that somebody must "step aside" and give up power is a remarkable principle that seems to be a post Christ driven event.  Not that I'm saying that people didn't give up power and position before Jesus walked the earth.  However, I am saying that once it is know that the Godhead emptied themselves so that the Logos could become flesh, all other sacrifices seem trivial.

However, Saul was not of this elk, and he was like a mad man in trying to hold onto power.

No where better is this shown is the story of Samuel and Saul. Samuel had told Saul that God would no longer support him. The question at this point is "What should have Saul done at the point that God's hand was no longer on him?

I hope the answer could be obvious to us today. He should have stepped down. However, as can be seen in the story, Saul was desparate to hang onto power, so much so that a prophet of God, worried for his life.

See I Samuel 16:2-4a (NIV)


But Samuel said, "How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me."
The LORD said, "Take a heifer with you and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.' Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate." Samuel did what the LORD said.

Here we have a man who of God, and he is afraid of the King.  Saul attacked his own priest, and his own son.  He attacked David, and Saul had his people kill anybody that was protecting David.  I find it important that through all of this, David refused to act against King Saul.  David had this incredible respect for authority.

I you step through the 10 commandments, which one did Saul break so strongly? In case you can't remember all of them, here they are below from Exodus 20. So, which one did he break?

3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.


4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.


7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.


8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.


12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.


13 “You shall not murder.


14 “You shall not commit adultery.


15 “You shall not steal.


16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.


17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” 

To me the answer is obvious.  He was somebody that coveted his neighbor's position.  I think that Saul's sin is a sin that we should all be able to relate to, and even relate.  There are many things that the Lord have given us in our life.  The key thing is when the Lord says he no long wishes us to have those things, the goal must be for us to give those things (or positions) up to him.

Otherwise, we risk becoming a little Saul in ourselves.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Mind" -> Sharing Other People's Stuff

"What's a torrent?" my friend asked me at work.

This question is at the center of attention for everything today.  Not the specific question of the torrent, mind you.  The question about "what is this thing that you are talking about that I don't know about although a million people are using it?" This question is a question of the Internet, of changing culture, or a digital gap and divide.  Technology is merging into our lives, yet the culture is not quite ready to deal with it.  My friend is about 10 years younger than me, so to my mind he is a young kid.  However, what I don't realize, as I approach 50 years of age, is that I am one of the few of the digital elite that treat the cloud like some of my peers treat sports.  For them, it was sports that they grew up, and watched, and loved.  They stay up on all the new teams and players, and they will be talking about them until they retire.  I don't like sports, but I do watch high technology.

However this blog post is not about me.  This post is about cool things that I think that you should have on your web 2.0 list.  Because I start off talking about Torrents, I will start talking about this.

If you have never heard of Torrenting, here is my advice.  Don't do it.

Torrents are devices for sharing files.  They allow you to download information from many other people computers on the web.  The assumption is that any file you have may be stored on other peoples computers, therefore, if you want to get a file, you can ask many people to send you a part of it.  By doing this, you aren't requiring anybody to store this file in one spot.  Now, the big driving force behind torrenting is media sharing.  Whenever you hear somebody talking about massive fines being levied because of a lawsuit by the RIAA, is it normally because of torrenting activity.

However, let's say you have to know about torrents because of your curiosity.  You aren't going to apply them, but you want to sound savvy to your 15 year old.  So with that being said, here is a bit more description on the torrent subculture.

Torrents are normally for people to pick up either pirated music, pirated video, or pirated books.  One of the most popular clients for Torrents is uTorrent, and this is the defacto standard in the industry.  If you must, you can Google uTorrent and download the client.  It is painless and fast to find it. 


Can you find information on torrents that is NOT of a pirated nature?  The answer is absolutely.  The problem is that you need to ask "why?"  What ever you can get on a Torrent, normally you can find with a direct download from some aggregator some where.  You need a Casio manual for some lost watch of yours?  Better to go to Casio or look on the manual tab at Amazon.  You have a much better chance of find the data that you want there.


However, let's say that you want to see what is up with Torrents.  You've download uTorrent, and the question is "now what?"


For a torrent to work, it needs to be handed a tracker.  This tracker has is a signature files that basically allows uTorrent to say "I want this particular set of files."  Torrent tracker sites are where all the action happens.  To make torrents effective you need this file.  Without this small file, programs like uTorrent don't have any ability to download (or upload) any files.  For purposes of this post, I don't even want to mention all of the major torrent sites, as it would only indicate that I support piracy.  I don't want to indicate that I do support piracy in any fashion.  However, I do find myself using torrents for a special subsection of files:  Anime and Anime OSTs.



Here is the old logo of the Nyaatorrent site found at www.nyaa.eu.  This is a torrent site just aimed at anime, which seems to be on a strange side of the law because generally Japanese anime creators have chosen not to aggressively pursue their IP rights on this.  (See this post.)



To get the torrent going, assuming that you've found something that clearly will not be pursued for IP issues (which is beyond the scope of this post, but generally, you should see if there is a USA distributor, then you'll been treading on toes), all you need to do is click on the "Download" button, and it will find your uTorrent software and go out and find other computers on the internet that have the same file or files.


As your client finds other computers on the internet, it makes two choices:  who will I download from and who will I upload to.  In other words, once you start downloading a file, you also start to upload the file.  Let's say that you start to download the file, and you get only 5% of it.  Your client is smart enough to be able to pass the 5% of the file you have to somebody else who doesn't have any of the file.  Therefore, the original person with the file can immediately offload sharing all of the file by the people downloading sharing whatever they've already gotten downloaded.


Now, you can chose not to upload anything at all.  Then you'll be called a leacher, for obvious reasons.  Generally, you need to know something about the client to be able to turn off the uploading part, therefore, newbies will not turn it off.


Most of the lawsuits on music is on this tracking issue.  Because Torrents get pulled both ways (you download and you upload) the RIAA goes after not the download, but the uploading portion.  In other words, there is an limited amount of damage that they can claim if you steal the music from them for your own personal use. Basically, you've stolen one copy.  However, as soon as you start uploading, they claim that you have become a distributor, and therefore have kept them from multiple sales.


Now, some of the above is a moot point.  The major legal arm of this was the RIAA, and they were pursuing individuals.  However, the lawsuits were very expensive, and at the end of the day, suing the average american doesn't bring in a lot of money.  To the other side, it was creating a lot of negative PR.  On top of this, it was forcing a lot of people to get creative and perhaps create a whole new technology for sharing files.

So, the RIAA stopped suing individuals at the end of 2008.  Any lawsuits in progress are still going on, and this is where the last publicity on individuals being sued is coming from.  Also, the RIAA was basically picking up the smaller individuals who simply weren't all that tech smart.  The smart guys were using alternatives.

Four major alternatives were coming to the forefront:

1. VPNs
2. Newgroups

3. Sites like Megaupload
4. Private trackers

The way that the RIAA was finding the individuals that were downloading is by becoming a downloader and uploader like everybody else.  Once you get in the middle of the torrent, you can see everybody that is uploading or downloading.


This can be seen in the picture above.  In this case, I've found a file that I am downloading from Nyaatorrents, which all the downloaders can be seen under the "IP" label.  uTorrent even puts a little flag to show what country the people send you bits of the file live in.  As you can see, because this is a anime site, most of the people for this torrent live in Japan.

Once you have somebody's IP address, you can sue their Internet provider.

However, it is possible to change your IP address by running a VPN.  A VPN allows you to make all of your requests for data come out of a certain place in the world.  For example, you may live in Washington state, but you can find a VPN service that would make all of your requests for data come out of Russia.  While the RIAA will sue a USA company, they really don't want to start an international lawsuit.  This will be very true of Russia, where they don't care about USA copyright laws today.  Why should they spend time on this?  Let the Americas deal with American pirates.

Therefore, rather than going after the people, the RIAA and other trade associations are going after the people that list the prementioned "torrent tracker."  This is like the key for the car.  If you don't have a key to start the engine, you won't be able to download anything.  This is starting to take effect.  For example, Isohunt (a bad name because an ISO is a CD image) was sued and was found to be hosting piracy.  They are now blocked in the USA.  (Interestingly, though, they are not blocked outside the USA, and individuals with VPNs can poke their heads out in Russia, find the site, and then they can download just like they would have if they were in the USA.)

There are three other ways that individuals are getting around these problems.  As mentioned above, there are now clients to download media files from Newgroups.  Newsgroups are part of the history of the internet, and to make a long story short, they are like forums.  In this new avenue, individuals upload a bunch of special text that can be recompiled into a binary video or music file.  Because there is no trace of who posted the information, it is difficult for the RIAA to go after anybody.  (Difficult, but not impossible with enough time and money.)  Generally, the copyright people are too busy to shut this down today.

Similar to newgroups are a bunch of file hosting services that simply store files. The best known one is Megaupload.  If you find the right group of people, they will tell you where either music or video is stored in these file sharing sites.  While these sites will take down material if asked, generally, they are not being sued because the sole intention of these sites are not for piracy.  Therefore, it becomes a temporary shelf allow pirates to deliver stuff for a while.

The final option are private trackers, in which a smaller group of individuals share files.  The problem here is that if the group is big enough to have a lot of stuff, then it is not secure.  If it is not large enough, then it is secure but you probably don't have all the material somebody would want.

Finally, this list is not done.  I haven't even touched on getting books over IRC.  Quite frankly, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is really a niche part of the internet. However, I mention it here, because the innovation of the pirate.