Coming to Korea? Here’s a Quick Guide to Customs Declaration and Phone Rentals

My parents are coming to Korea to see their first grandbaby, so I found out some great stuff about the airport, and renting phones.

First, about customs, and what to declare – it’s all in the Airport Guide here – you should print it and familiarize yourselves with it I guess – then you’ll have less to worry about.

Another New “Design” Site? Please

As one who is interested in design, I find reading design sites, and design blogs to be a wonderful way to gather information and inspiration. I am filled with a hunger for knowledge in this field, everything from typography to color to layouts to best practices and standards. Therefore, I love to read sites that are written by well-known designers and bloggers who have been around for a while and have a lot of experience. But, sometimes I run across a site (or a dozen) that claims to be “pro” but just follows the same pattern all the other “pro” sites follow. These days, with so many “design” sites doing so many of the same things, it almost makes it seem like “more of the same” can be – and is – a recipe for success. Let me break down why I think there are so many sites first: Read the rest of this entry »

Oh! What a Tangled WWW We Weave…

The quote “Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive” is one of the most famous quotes by Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott. It basically says that deception is a “fragile and complex weaving of truth, half truths’, lies and lies of omission.” And “To create a deception worthy of belief one must be able to create plausible details that help create the illusion of truth. It is the details that people listen to and remember…”

That isn’t to say that the whole World Wide Web is full of deception, but online, people can choose to “be” anyone they want. Online, no one really knows the real you, sees you face to face, or can ask probing questions to be sure you really are who you say you are. People with no friends can get online and make thousands of virtual friends and become a social butterfly – while in the real world they’re still too shy to speak. A 50-year old male can claim to be a 25-year old, athletic, blonde woman and post photos and a profile that fits with his description. But while we all know that these kinds of large deceptions can occur, I wonder how many of us stop to consider what minor deceptions may occur.

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Those Same-Old, Same-Old Web Design Sites

You know what I really like? I like things that don’t follow all “the rules” or traditional ways of doing things. I especially like those things that bend or break “the rules” and create their own guidelines and standards for doing things. I get tired of the same-old, same-old all the time.

I look around my house, and see the same-old books, addressing the same-old topics, in the same-old ways. I drive to and from work the same-old way. And when I get on the Internet, I do the same-old things: check the email, check Facebook, check Twitter, click “interesting” sounding links, look at the pretty pictures, read the “interesting” articles, and discover 25 “new” tips, tricks, tutorials, or trends that I “didn’t know about” already.

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Don’t be Fooled by Internet Virus Phishing Scams

Phishing annoys me to no end. Don’t people have anything better to do than trying to steal from others or create chaos? According to this (old) article, the US and Korea top the list of countries for number of phishing hosts. And I can only assume that phishing has gotten worse in the last 3 years since this was published. Additionally, these days, Korea is undergoing a big change in the sophistication of phishing scams – particularly “voice phishing” (phone phishing) scams.

I even heard the story of one lady in Korea who received a phone call telling her that her son had been kidnapped, and if she ever wanted to see him alive again she must immediately transfer X amount of money into an unknown bank account. She did so, and hurried home to call the police (I assume). Upon arriving home she found her son watching TV and eating snacks. She cried out, “Are you OK?” to which he replied, “Of course, I just arrived home from school on the bus.”  I don’t know all the facts about this story, or if it is 100% true or not, but the fact remains that it is 100% believable, because people do have a tendency to get fearful, emotional, and in a “fight-or-flight” mode when they think that something has gone terribly wrong.

So, in order to help other people not get into this same kind of fearful, emotional mode when surfing the Internet and a “Virus Alert!” pops up on their screen, I will break down the phishing scam that I encountered online today while looking for 2010 Olympics Coverage. With a little understanding of what to look for, more people would be able to avoid accidentally downloading virus programs that actually claim to be “virus cleaners.”

And for those who are convinced that viruses just “pop up” when they’re not looking, check out this post.

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Oh No! Virus Alert!

Today as I was browsing the web, searching for 2010 Olympics Coverage, I was suddenly confronted by this “Virus Alert!” message:

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Sexy Web Design Inspiration

Reading Sexy Web Design by Elliot Jay Stocks has given me a lot to consider in developing websites, as well as a lot of good inspiration and resource links. Therefore, I thought I’d quickly collect and catalog all the links that Elliot gives in his book for my future reference. Of course, these links are available freely on the web, so everyone can benefit from them. However, you won’t get the full benefit unless you read about them in the context in which they are written in the book, so head on over to and pick yourself up a copy.

As the majority of the links in the books are provided for inspiration, I’ll leave those in order below. However, there are some really excellent online articles and tutorials, as well as printed books that Elliot references in his book. Those are more relevant for learning about good design, and I’ll post those first.

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Create a Cool Korean Circle Pattern in Illustrator

I’ve been quite interested in Korean designs and patterns for some time now. I’ve also been hoping to incorporate some of the best Korean patterns into my designs. However, there seems to be a real lack of Korean design resources out there, so I decided to make my own. In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a cool Korean circle pattern like those found on many Korean traditional buildings and clothes. This is one of the coolest patterns I’ve found in Korea, so it was a lot of fun making it in Illustrator. I found a similar pattern here, and if you want to see more great Korean patterns, I encourage you to pick up this book all about Korean patterns.

Well, let’s begin.

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Glenn Beck’s Rotten Apple

You know when you eat an apple that has a worm in it? It just ruins the whole thing. America is that apple, and Glenn Beck the worm.

And although he uses big words like “prayer” and “God” in his rants, he in no way embodies the same religious zeal he attempts to conjure up in others – he merely uses those words as showpieces to rally other “religious people” to his cause. But, one must remember that Glenn is not representative of all “religious people” or all Mormons (his religion) or all Christians (there’s a big difference between the two), and therefore one cannot blame “religious people” for Glenn Beck. He is his own creation (and one of the media’s creations), and his ideas are not representative of the ideas of “religious people.”

And “religious people” would do well to truly PAY ATTENTION to who Beck is and what he says. I’m sure most would find there is a bit of a disconnect between their particular religious beliefs and the extreme things Beck says and does.

I particularly like how he elevates America above the place of God in his 9-12 Project ( In fact, most of what is written on his 9-12 Project page can be classified as ONE of these four things: (a) can be overturned by Scripture, (b) is counter to what Jesus taught, (c) has not been demonstrated or lived out by Beck, or (d) has been radically disproven as fundamental to Beck’s core beliefs (

So, “religious people,” please don’t feel that you need to loop yourselves in with Glenn Beck just because he talks about “God” on a nationally publicized media program. And “media people,” please don’t assume that all “religious people” or conservatives fall into the same narrow category that Beck has taken it upon himself to occupy.

He’s just a little worm burrowing down into the apple of America, with enough space and a loud enough voice to ruin that apple for everyone.

Don’t Fly United Airlines

UselessAs an American citizen living in Korea and teaching English, I’ve had a good share of international and domestic travel experience. Since my first trip to study abroad in Shanghai in 2004, I’ve traveled to China twice, Hong Kong once, Japan three times, Korea five times, and returned home to visit my family five or six times. Therefore, I have a very good working knowledge of what is required for all portions of a successful journey: from buying tickets, to arranging documents, to finding my way around crowded airports, to security checks, boarding planes, and customs at the other end. I’ve developed my own habits and patterns for doing things that make my international travel much better, safer, faster, and more efficient (including always using carry-on bags). After countless successful experiences with airplane travel, I had begun to take my success for granted – I had a perfect record of travel. But a recent experience in Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with United Airlines sent me spinning.

Since I have so much travel experience to different countries, I’ve also had lots of experience with different airlines. By far the best of the best always happen to be Asian airlines. Korean Air was always my favorite, Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong is also wonderful, I’ve heard Singapore Airlines gives first class service even in economy class, and I recently experienced Asiana Airlines first class service in economy as well. The US airlines however, leave something to be desired. Delta is not bad, but nothing like their SkyTeam partner Korean Air (first class service). Northwest is the cheapest and it’s really true that you get what you pay for, service is just average. United Airlines, or perhaps Los Angeles International airport (LAX), or perhaps a combination of the two however is by far the worst airline I’ve ever dealt with. It’s not the flight itself that stinks, but the customer service stinks and as Dave Carroll sings it’s often a case of “pass the buck” and “don’t ask me.” Here is the story of my recent experience with them, in an email complaint I sent to the company.

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