Child of Koguryo

My father's family root lies north of the 38th parallel, somewhere near the controversial nuclear plant.  I never been there but I will have to someday when my father dies so he can be buried next to his parents and ancestors.  While I was born in Seoul, Korea, I have always thought my father's home village was mine also.

Likewise, I have always thought I was a child of Koguryo, an ancestial Korean kingdom from the past because of my father's family roots and, as silly as it might sound, how we look and behave.  I also liked that Koguryo was a warrior's kingdom, much more so than the kingdoms that followed like Chosun where Confucious scholars introduced a caste system and placed themselves at the top.  Well, pen proved to be of no defense against swords when Japan invaded.

From Austin Ramsey's Times Asia article Rewriting History:

In A.D. 612 an Imperial Chinese army of more than a million soldiers marched on the northeast Asian kingdom of Koguryo. Though vastly outnumbered, the soldiers of Koguryo—whom many modern-day Koreans see as their ancestors—routed the Chinese in a victory that is still a source of pride on both sides of the DMZ.

Now, almost 1,400 years later, Chinese scholars are attempting a subtler land grab, claiming that the ancient kingdom of Koguryo was a part of China—a "regional government founded by an ethnic group," as Beijing's state-run Northeast Asia Project put it in June. The argument isn't just academic.

This feud over history is very important to me because Chinese scholars, sponsored by the Chinese government, are threatening an important part of who I am.  My feelings are shared by most Koreans and there has been an upswelling of anti-Chinese sentiments in Korea, particularly among the young.  A good indication is an increasing number of amateur future history novels in which united Korea invades China to take back the land it lost over the years.

While the Koguryo part of me wishes the same, I would be happy if China just left Korean history alone before wishes become future bloodshed.

Backspace

I got back from camping yesterday but I am still recovering from resting and enjoying the quietness of the aftermath, a zone I like to call Backspace.

You are a workaholic if you have to recover from resting.

BTW, I registered for BloggerCon III.  There is room for only 300 attendents, so register if you haven't.

Work and Camp

I have been really busy with a client for the past few days, trying to get a good handle around a misbehaving web service benchmark.  Oracle JDBC drivers played a key role by hanging instead of complaining.  My opinion of Axis, an open source web service toolkit,  took a dive as well.  It's a complicated, buggy, and slow tool that makes you want to chuck it aside as soon as you use it.  Unfortunately, it's what most people are using on the Java side these days.

Thankfully, I'll be camping at Tahoe again starting this Sunday.  But before that, I got a ton of work to do Saturday.  Decent weekends are rare for me.  When I was young, I dedicated my weekends to my singles life, dating and clubing.  These days, I am working for either myself or my clients every weekend.

If I am not working on weekends, it's usually because I am recovering from too much work during the weekdays.  My method of recovery is to read or watch two three books or movies in a single sitting.  Of course, this leaves little room for quality family time so I am glad for the occasional camping.

Enbee.com – Upcoming Korean Blog Service

Blogging is hot in Korea right now and Enbee is a hot Korean blogging service provider which will open it's doors in September.  While they are planning to provide a wide range of blogging services, including a feature that allows bloggers to publish their own newspaper (sounds familiar, no?), their link blogging feature has been getting some notice lately.

Suman at Enbee setup an example link blog for me to take a look.  Frankly, I don't see myself using it (too lazy to keep up two blogs), but I think substantial percentage of bloggers will prefer to have link blogs over the kind that requires them to express their personal opinions.  In Korea, young folks are not encouraged to speak their mind in front of elders because a) it's immodest, b) it's what elders are suppose to do, c) they don't know jack shit, and d) they are more obsessed with saying the right thing than saying what they think.

So, I think link blogs in Korea will do well since link bloggers can be helpful to others without the danger of saying too much.  As for me, I consider my blogging habit a sort of mental exhibitionist fetish so link blogging won't deliver enough juice to me.

XP SP2 Download Availability Plan

While news sites say XP SP2 was released, the 80+MB patch won't be available to general public for download via Windows Update site for a while.  Here are some details:

·        Online Distribution

o       On August 9th, we plan to post the Network Install Package to the Microsoft.com Download Center and our main technical subscription programs (MSDN and Technet).  This SP2 package is intended for IT Professionals Developers and will not be broadly publicized.

o       On August 10th we plan to begin a low volume release of English SP2 through Automatic Update (AU).  For a few days this will be exclusively available to customers who have previously installed prerelease versions of Windows XP SP2, and then we will broaden the distribution out to all Windows XP users.

o       By mid August, we plan to commence availability of SP2 to business customers who use Software Update Services (SUS).  The Windows Update service is the distribution mechanism for SUS.

o       By the end of August, we anticipate full customer availability (constrained to 2.5M downloads/day world-wide) via the main Windows Update website and Automatic Update.  The exact timing and maximum number of downloads will depend upon the results of the gradual ramp up we do over the previous weeks.

2.5M per day?  That means the patch will take 30+ days to download.  Yikes!  More details are available at Janok's blog.

Update:

Firas points out that 2.5M actually means 2.5 million downloads per day instead of 2.5 megabytes download per day per user.  Duh.

Looks like some BitTorrent enthusiasts have setup a server just for XP SP2 at SP2Torrent.com.  I also found a direct download link into Microsoft along with a mini-review at Neowin.netNote that these alternate download links are provided AS IS.  It is entirely possible for hackers to intercept and inject trojans and viruses into them.  Even matching the MD5 hash at SP2Torrent.com isn't really safe because, if they can get at the torrent file itself, they can get at the webpage with the hash you are suppose to match the hash of the downloaded file with.

BTW, binaries available via BitTorrent and direct download are about three times bigger (270MB) than what you would have gotten via Automatic Updates (AU) because AU downloads only the components your system need.

Update 2:

Update took longer than I expected (~30 minutes).  I was watching it go and it seemed to be replacing every damn DLL there is.  Now that it's all done, I can't tell any difference except that white pixels seem brighter and safer (just kidding ;-p).  I guess I'll just have to assume that my computer is safer now.  So much for user awareness.

Upgrade to Firefox 0.9.3

If you are using Firefox (or Mozilla), you should definitely upgrade to version 0.9.3 now because there are three critical bugs as well as the libpng bug in previous versions.  Increasing popularity of Firefox means more vulnerabilities like this will surface.

While I think Firefox marketshare is moving up nicely, I don't think it will reach nor surpass 20% by end of this year.  If you read my prediction carefully, I wrote that Firefox marketshare will be *near* 20%.  Heh.

Joy of Notebooks

Writing Joy of Typing reminded me of the Moleskine phenomenon.  I haven't used a Moleskine notebook yet but I am fascinated by all the raving going on.  I don't particularly care whether Van Gogh and Matisse used it or not.  But I do think think there is something there beyond vanity and word-of-mouth marketing.  Maybe it's in the texture of the paper, maybe it's the right size or shape.  Maybe it's the rubberband.  If it is the paper, then I wonder which type of pen or pencil goes best with the notebook.

BTW, I don't understand the pricing on the Moleskine notebooks.  Why does the diaries with 380 pages cost less than non-diaries which haves far less pages?  Do they use different papers?  Obviously the sketch book must use higher quality paper than others, but I wonder if the diaries use thinner pages to keep the thickness down.  Heh.  I guess I got moleskined.

I'll admit that all this is kind of silly if one takes a step back, but then life itself is silly if you take enough steps back.

Joy of Typing

When I was heavily into physics, I used to enjoy filling up pages after pages of rough white paper with equations using a B2 wood pencil.  I used the B2 pencil because it felt similar to chaulk on blackboard and rough paper made that nice scratching sound as you write on it.  The idea that I could be creative and productive anywhere with nothing more than some paper, a pencil, and some quiet was very attractive to me similar to the way one might feel with a powerful laptop these days.

I have similar feelings about the old IBM buckling spring keyboards, the kind that clicked loudly and pushed back sincerely to every keystroke.  It as lively as the Selectric keyboards but better because I didn't get the feeling that keyboard might bolt out the window any minute like I did while using a Seletric typewriter (maybe it was the lack of that electric 'trembling').

With today's mushy keyboards, typing feels like a chore and boring with my palms never leaving the palm rest.  But with old IBM keyboards, typing felt more exciting, as if I was playing a piano, with my palms bouncing up and down with my fingers coming up for air and diving down again for another bout with the feisty keys.

I missed that feeling so googled and found PCKeyboard.com.  Nice.

Viral Multimedia

News.com is reporting that six critical vulnerabilities were found in libpng, a widely used library for displaying images in PNG format.  Note that libpng is open source yet no one noticed those vulnerabilities until now.  In my opinion, libpng being free and open source actually contributed to the scalability of attacks that could be launched through those vulnerabilities.

Even more disturbing is that, while patches for vulnerabilities found in end products like IE and Mozilla are quickly and widely distributed, patches for vulnerabilities in libraries often never make it to the end products that use the faulty versions of the libraries for various reasons.

How would you know if any of the infrequently used programs and utilities you have in your computer use vulnerable versions of popular libraries like libpng?  You don't.  Your only protection is that there are easier targets.  Unfortunately, vulnerabilities in multimedia software is starting to look more attractive for hackers.

Most likely avenue of viral multimedia attack is using porn to drive wide distribution of video codecs (compression/decompression) software.  They don't have to carry trojans either.  All they need are a handful of intentional defects for them to use as a wedge later.  They can even release the software as open source since the chance of being discovered before harvest time is rather low.

Consider this a sort of social engineering attack against the little head.

Charismatic Phone Voice

Do you have problems talking to people over the phone like me?  I thought this phone interviewing tip from Gretchen, a Senior Talent Scout at Microsoft, was a very useful advice:

Get outta that chair!  Try standing up and even walking around a bit during a phone interview.  People tend to speak more clearly and confidently when standing.  (Seriously, this works!)

I have a unique voice and phone seems to amplify that uniqueness.  And my concerns about sounding silly over the phone tend to undermine the strength of my voice.  One solution I found was to use a full (meaning both ears aka binaural) headphone set with attached microphone.  With the headset, I can hear the other person speaking as well as my own voice clearly.  This allows me to immerse myself fully into the conversation and dispell (actually, forget) any concerns I might have about my voice.

My last headset broke some years ago and I have yet to replace it, but I think I am going to get a wireless telephone headset now so I can take full advantage of Gretchen's advice.  What I would like to have is a full wireless headset with microphone and a wireless base that plugs into both USB port and my telephone so I can use it for both phone and chat.

Update:

After a brief search, I found that these gadgets are called Multimedia Headset Amplifiers.  They are just like regular headset amplifiers except they also plug into your PC and allows you to use the same (potentially very expensive) headset for VoIP and other audio applications as well as regular phone calls.  Here are the three models are I found:

They are all kind of pricey ($100~$180), particularly when the price of a decent headset is thrown in ($80~$200), but since a good conversation can mean a lot to anyone's life, I think it's good investment.  Heck, it's better than spending a few hundred on the latest cellphone.  Only concern I have is that all three uses analog jacks instead of USB.  Hmm.  Maybe that's a good thing since USB means more software is needed and these phone equipment guys are not well known for writing quality software.  Anyway, I am going to get one of the three soon.

BTW, I gave up on the wireless because it lowers sound quality and they cost too much.  I can make do with a long cord.

Update 2:

I ordered the Hello Direct Virtuoso with the nice headset.  I sure hope it works as advertised because, if I am going to have what looks like an android's left foot on my desk, it better perform.

Update 3:

I got it today and but am sending it back because:

  • it doesn't have separate volume controls for outgoing and incoming voice.
  • shallow cup and highly sensitive microphone created an echo of sort.
  • Virtuoso looked too cheaply made and fragile.

Instead, I ordered the Plantronics MX10 and Telex H-51 headset via Amazon.  MX10 looks well made and has separate volume control.  H-51 has deep cups (almost like aviation headsets) and has excellent reviews.  This combo is not only better, but cheaper.  I gotta like that.