Finally moving to Korea

It’s been a long time coming – but I’m finally moving to Korea. Yes, this is the moment I’ve planned for for over a year. It took me a while to get here, but from stubborn determination I was able to do it.

I’ve had a lot of good memories in SF, especially in 2012, and I’ll never forget that. But it’s time for me to move on to the next step in my life. I’ve been preparing for over a year for this moment.
After I came back from Korea in Sept 2013, a place that fit me to a T, I promised myself that no matter the cost, I would find a way to be there. I would learn another language, I would give up my job, I would give up living in SF, I would give up making lots of money.. for a chance to be in the place that I love, for a chance to find a girl I love. That’s not a crazy thought – it’s who I am, and what my destiny is.

This year was a year of enlightenment – I didn’t have any crazy trips like in 2012, or go to crazy parties like in 2013, this year I focused on one thing only – getting to Korea. I continued working at BitTorrent for over a year to get experience, I lobbied hard at Walmart to get a remote position, and I re-dedicated myself to Korean, attending two semesters at Sejong Academy and 3 months of Korean tutoring.

I learned that experience is more valuable than anything. I was spending crazy amounts of money over the past year and a half – $30k in shopping expenses – about 30% of my total income was being spent on unnecessary things, and this year I’ve learned more than ever that money was not the key to happiness nor was owning a lot of things. I’ve sought this year to keep my spending to a minimum – and I’m happy to say that last month I’ve reduced my shopping expenditures to a mere 9% from 25% a year before. Experience is what counts – not owning things.

I’m doing all this because I was tired of living in America, in Canada, in western culture. The so called “American Dream” is really just making a lot of money, and owning a lot of things. In SF, all the politically correct nonsense that people have to put up with (Gamergate being the latest example of nonsense caused by feminists and the media). All the tech companies here are filled with 70% tech-obsessed males who live and breathe code like some kind of zombies. When I look at Korea, I see a country where they value being together. Being with others. Drinking fun with your friends. Eating with your co-workers. Taking cute pics with your boyfriend/girlfriend. That’s what life is about. Not about owning the latest 4K TV or smartwatch. But being with people.

Everything I have to do myself. Just last month, I had to call up Blue Advantage Arkansas to manually send me my health insurance card (Shouldn’t Walmart have done that?), I had to pay $200 to see the doctor (because Walmart didn’t mail me the insurance card on time), I had to pay $2500 to get rid of bedbugs from my apartment (left me with tons of scars and got in trouble with the condo management), pay $50 for someone to unlock my iPhone and they never called me back, pay $260 to mail back my passport in time (passport renewal failed because my passport photos weren’t correct which also wasn’t my fault), pay $200 for a background check for my soon to be tenant (my old high school friend), help set him up with an interview, do the paperwork, unit inspection, etc. I had to pay $600 in towing/parking fees to the SFMTA even though they wrongfully towed me (I mailed a towing dispute 3 months ago with no response), I have to call up everyone to confirm things that were supposed to be done weeks ago. I have to find an apartment in Korea, pay a massive deposit (Korea’s deposit is a year of rent), somehow find health insurance there, live like a vampire (work SF work hours), transfer my money over, buy furniture, etc.

As you can see I’ve been quite stressed last month. I’m sick of it, frankly. I need a fresh change. I realize the life in Korea is not perfect. They have to study from a young age all the time, be competitive all the time, study hard, get into a good school, find a good job, work long hours, live with their parents, marry the right person, etc. Conversely, I’ve been living by myself since I was 18, paid for my own tuition working part time and the PEY internship, paid off my student debt within a few months of graduation, found my own full time job in California right after I graduated making more than my parents, and have never been unemployed since. I did this all with very little help from my parents. They helped me look for a place initially, and helped finance my current home, but everything else was mostly my own doing.

And now once again I’m on my own to move to Korea. And I will do it. Because unlike many people, I have the ability to focus when I need to. I have my mother’s stubbornness and my father’s talent to thank for that. This is why I can’t play games or watch TV for long, because I can’t do anything unproductive for sustained periods. I have to be productive. So I make videos. So I study Korean. So I play guitar. So I read Wikipedia. So I blog. So I do programming. And so on. I have to do something with my time that’s worthwhile. And I believe when you really really want something badly enough, you will find a way to do it. No matter what obstacles are ahead. I’ve always believed this. Human willpower is a very strong thing. As long as you have something to motivate you, a passion for it, an absolute desire for it, then it’s like Michael Jordan going in for a dunk; nobody can stop you.

난 비생산적인 하는걸 싫어서 오래동안 티비랑 게임하는거 할 수 없다.
매일매초 생산적으로 해야된다. 그러니까 동영상를 만든다, 한국어를 공부한다, 기타를 친다, 위키피디아를 읽는다, 블로그를 쓴다, 프로그램을 한다 기타 등등. 어떤 뜻있는 일을 해야된다.
만약에 어떤 걸 진짜 진짜 원하면은, 어떤 방법을 찾아낼 것이라고 확신해요. 아무렇든지 방법을 강구할거예요.
내가 인간의 의지력을 항상 믿는데 동기를 주는게 있고 열정 있고 의욕 가지고 하면은, 아무도 못 말려요.

Edit:
I can’t help myself but complain about this issue: Mark Zuckerberg speaks Chinese and all the Chinese girls on the internet praise him. How come no one ever praises me for speaking three languages? So Zuck speaks one other language (and not that fluently FYI) and gets praised for it, while I can speak 2 languages fluently and one at an intermediate level and I get nothing. Is this because Asians are expected to know more languages and Westerners are not? Why the double standard? Ok I’m done ranting with that.

I collect small gadgets

If you have read my previous posts, like this one, or my other gadget collection posts, you would know that I love collecting gadgets. In fact I should probably be a full time reviewer from the number of gadgets I collect.

I love collecting small electronic devices, with these criteria:
-The device should be usable for many years. It should not rely on any data servers that might be outdated. For example, the Tmobile Sidekick relied on Danger’s servers for data, else it was a paperweight. I want devices that are just as usable 10 years ago as now.
-It should be really portable, and the screen size <= 7 inches. 7 inches is probably the maximum.
-weighs under 2lbs
-It should have something special or unique about it, either hardware wise and/or software wise. For example, if the tablet looks just like any other tablet out there, then its not going to be as desirable as say, a tablet that can turn into a laptop or has a slide out keyboard.
-Unique software is always a plus. For example, if the device runs Maemo, or Linux or MeeGo or Firefox OS.
-Reasonably obscure and rare. So, an iPhone wouldn’t really score as high as a Nokia N9 for example.

With that in mind, let’s look at the some of these devices:

Casio BE300 (2001)

Casio BE300 Pocket manager

Casio BE300 Pocket manager

Price: $65 on eBay
Device type: Palm sized PC
Special features: touchscreen, special build of Windows CE 3, easily hackable
OS: Modified Windows CE 3.0
related: Casio Cassiopeia Pocket PCs, HP Jornada Pocket PCs

Sony Clie UX50 (2003)

Sony UX50

Sony UX50

Price: $50 on eBay
Device type: PDA
Special features: touch screen, camera, keyboard, screen rotates
OS: Palm OS 5.4
related: Sony CLIE PDAs, HP iPAQ Pocket PCs, Palm PDAs, Handheld PCs

Psion Netbook Pro (2003)

Psion Netbook Pro

Psion Netbook Pro

Price: $100 on eBay
Device type: netbook
Special Features: the original and first netbook ever, runs Windows CE .NET
OS: Windows CE 4.2 .NET
Related: HP Jornada Handheld PCs, Toshiba Libretto Handheld PCs, NEC Handheld PCs, Psion handheld pcs, Sony CLIE PDAs

Sharp Zaurus C1000 (2004)

Sharp Zaurus C1000

Sharp Zaurus C1000

Price: $200 on ebay
Device type: Handheld PC
Special features: one of the last handheld pcs, runs linux, unavailable in USA, touch screen, camera, keyboard, screen rotates, last Zaurus made
OS: Linux
Related: Psion Handheld PCs, NEC Handheld PCs, Toshiba Libretto Handheld PCs

Nokia N95 (2006)

Nokia N95

Nokia N95

Price: $60 on eBay
Device type: smartphone
Special features: dual slider, camera, one of the greatest non touchscreen phones
OS: Symbian
Related: Nokia E series, Sony Ericsson walkman & cybershot phones

Sony Vaio UX (2006)

Sony Vaio UX

Sony Vaio UX

Price: $200 used on eBay
Device type: UMPC
Special features: most powerful UMPC ever, slide out keyboard, touch screen, runs full Windows
OS: Windows XP
Related: OQO model 2, Samsung Q1, Viliv S5, Vulcan flipstart

Philips PMC 7230 (2006)

Philips PMC7230

Philips PMC7230

Price: $90 on eBay
Device type: PMP
Special features: last Media Center OS PMP, has kickstand, built in TV recording abilities
OS: Media Center OS
Related: Creative Zen Portable Media center, iRiver PMC

Creative Zen Vision M (2006)

Creative Zen Vision M

Creative Zen Vision M

Price: $60 on eBay
Device type: PMP
Special features: The last hard drive based mp3 player from Creative, one of the most best mp3 players ever, touch strip, plays many video/audio formats, FM radio recording and voice recording
OS: Creative OS
Related: Apple iPod, Archos PMPs, Cowon PMPs, iRiver PMPs

Nokia E90 Communicator (2007)

Nokia E90 Communicator

Nokia E90 Communicator

Price: $100 on ebay
Device type: Smartphone
Special features: the last communicator made, dual screens, dual touchpad and keyboard
OS: Symbian
Related: Nokia N series

Nokia N810 (2008)

Nokia N810

Nokia N810

Price: $50 used on eBay
Device type: tablet
Special features: slide out keyboard, runs Maemo, pre-Android tablet
OS: Maemo
Related: Sony Mylo 2

Archos 5 (2008)

Archos 5

Archos 5

Price: $200 used on eBay
Device type: PMP
Special features: the last PMP with DVR recording capability, plays many video/audio formats, touchscreen, can go on internet, can be GPS and FM radio
OS: Archos OS
Related: Apple iPod, iRiver PMPs, Cowon PMPs, Creative Zen Vision W

HP iPAQ 210 (2008)

HP iPAQ 210

HP iPAQ 210

Price: $100 on eBay
Device type: Pocket PC
Special features: touchscreen, one of the last and best Pocket PCs, last iPAQ made
OS: Windows Mobile 6
Related: Dell Axim pocket pc, Palm Treo pocket pc

Microsoft Zune HD (2009)

MS Zune HD

MS Zune HD

Price: $60 used on eBay
Device type: PMP
Special features: Last Zune model, multi touch screen, can go on internet, inspired Windows 7 Phone OS
OS: Zune OS
Related: Apple iPod Nano

Fujitsu UH900 (2010)

Fujitsu UH900

Fujitsu UH900

Price: $500 used on eBay
Device type: netbook
Special features: smallest and best netbook, runs full windows, 2 usb ports, 2gb ram and SSD, multitouch high res screen
OS: Windows 7
Related: Sony Vaio P series, Asus EEE PCs, Viliv S7/N5

Toshiba Libretto W100 (2010)

Toshiba Libretto W100

Toshiba Libretto W100

Price: $700 on eBay
Device type: UMPC
Special features: Last Libretto PC made, one of the last UMPCs, dual 7inch touchscreens, virtual keyboard
OS: Windows 8
Related: Netbooks, Fujitsu LOOX, Fujitsu Stylistic

Dell Venue Pro (2011)

Dell Venue Pro

Dell Venue Pro

Price: $40 on eBay
Device type: Smartphone
Special features: Dell’s last smartphone, multitouch screen, slide out keyboard, one of only 2 windows phones to have a keyboard
OS: Windows 7 Phone
Related: HTC 7 Pro

HP Pre 3 (2011)

HP Pre 3

HP Pre 3

Price: $80 on eBay
Device type: smartphone
Special features: slider, camera, keyboard, the last phone to use WebOS
OS: WebOS
Related: Blackberry, iPhone, Android phones

Nokia N9 (2011)

Nokia N9

Nokia N9

Price: $100 on eBay
Device type: smartphone
Special features: multi touch screen, camera, only phone to run MeeGo
OS: MeeGo
Related: Blackberry, iPhone, Android phones

Sony Tablet P (2011)

Sony Tablet P

Sony Tablet P

Price: $130 used on eBay
Device type: tablet
Special features: the only tablet that can be folded, dual screens, multi touch screen
OS: Android 3.1
Related: Apple iPad, other Android tablets

Pandora console (2012)

OpenPandora Console

OpenPandora Console

Price: $600 on eBay
Device type: UMPC
Special features: combination game console/pda/umpc hybrid
OS: Linux
Related: Pepperpad 3, GCW Zero, GP2X Caanoo

Samsung Galaxy Golden (2013)

Samsung Galaxy Golden

Samsung Galaxy Golden

Price: $600 on eBay
Device type: smartphone
Special Features: dual screens, flip phone form factor, phone keypad
OS: Android 4.2
Related: LG Wine Smart

Nvidia Shield Portable (2013)

Nvidia Shield Portable

Nvidia Shield Portable

Price: $130 used on eBay
Device type: tablet
Special Features: combination game console/tablet, built in controller, multi touch screen, game streaming from PC
OS: Android 4.2
Related: Wikipad, Archos gamepad 2, Sony Xperia Play

Blackberry Passport (2014)

Blackberry Passport

Blackberry Passport

Price: $500 on eBay
Device type: smartphone
Special features: Square form factor, gesture enabled keyboard
OS: Blackberry OS 10
Related: Apple iPhone, Android phones, Blackberry Classic

Amazon Fire Phone (2014)

Amazon Fire Phone

Amazon Fire Phone

Price: $200 on eBay
Device type: smartphone
Special features: multi touch screen, dynamic 3D perspective, Firefly, Mayday, runs Fire OS
OS: Fire OS
Related: Blackberry, iPhone, Android phones

Neptune Pine (2015)

Neptune Pine

Neptune Pine

Price: $300 on eBay
Device type: smartphone/smartwatch
Special features: Smallest phone/tablet to run full Android, touchscreen, camera
OS: Android 4.2
Related: Moto 360, Apple Watch

I’ll have pictures and video up soon for these gadgets, as I own most of them. Stay tuned!

Edit: review is up!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UdDM83Spm0

Second edit

One of my pipe dreams is to build one of those old school like UMPC devices except with modern components. The problem with new tablets these days is that they still can’t match up with the old UMPC form factor – like the old OQO model 2 or Sony Vaio UX, its just cool to have a 5inch Windows PC with keyboard in the palm of your hand.
Its fully possible to build a much slimmer, much faster PC, with better battery life these days using modern components. Unfortunately with Windows 8 tablets, there’s still no tablet thats 8″ and below and has full USB and keyboard support. You can use bluetooth sure, but thats not the same. That’s 2 devices you have to carry. I’m talking about one device. If I build a device it would have the following components:
-5″ IPS FHD capacitative touch display (1080p)
-a sliding keyboard form factor a la the OQO model 2 / Sony Vaio UX or a convertible display a la the Sony Clie UX-50 or Fujitsu U820
-an HD front camera for web conferencing
-an 8MP back camera for pictures
-micro-HDMI output
-miniUSB for charging
-SD card reader
-2 USB 3.0 slots
-Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac wireless
-fingerprint reader for security
This won’t be a tablet.. its a full PC running Windows 8.1
Running internally:
-Intel broadwell processor ensuring its fanless – speed should be ~1.3-1.6Ghz
-4GB RAM
-256GB SSD
…I’m sure if Lenovo can make a fanless 13″ convertible, then they can make this.

Toronto trip, new job, new videos

Haven’t updated in a month, so here it is. I traveled back to Toronto and Orillia (my hometown) for the first time since Dec 2011. I finally got to visit my friends and family again, which was really nice as I haven’t met my friends especially for a long time. Here are some pictures, including some of the childhood pictures that I drew back then. I’m shocked at how much time I had back then. I’ll never forget my roots, that I came from a poor family in a small rural town in Canada.

My elementary school, Couchiching Heights, Orillia

My elementary school, Couchiching Heights, Orillia

My high school, ODCVI, Orilia

My high school, ODCVI, Orilia

At my alma mater, the University of Toronto

At my alma mater, the University of Toronto

My adorable cat, who is 10 years old now...

My adorable cat, who is 10 years old now…

I drew all the Gundam mobile suits...

I drew all the Gundam mobile suits…

As well as all the DBZ characters...

As well as all the DBZ characters…

As well as all the weapons from every DOS game...

As well as all the weapons from every DOS game…

As well as all the Gundam Wing pilots...

As well as all the Gundam Wing pilots…

As well as all the D&D Dark Sun monsters...

As well as all the D&D Dark Sun monsters…

As well as various superheroes..

As well as various superheroes..

As well as 10 versions of Mew...

As well as 10 versions of Mew…

As well as all the characters from Metal Warriors and One Must Fall 2097

As well as all the characters from Metal Warriors and One Must Fall 2097

As well as all the Digimon..

As well as all the Digimon..

As well as various other monsters..

As well as various other monsters..

As well as all 150 Pokemon...

As well as all 150 Pokemon…

As well as all the DBZ characters AND their transformations

As well as all the DBZ characters AND their transformations

…Yeah I had a lot of time back then as a child. I even created games back then based on this obscure DOS game called Sir Bombalot but basically I would create “pieces” for the game that had different abilities like mimic moves, freeze other pieces, mind control other pieces, move in different patterns, magnetize pieces, explode, etc. It was cool, unfortunately I couldn’t find those pieces that I made as a kid, but I remember doing that.

Future plans

“Only after we lose everything are we free to do anything” – Fight Club

Going to Korea really opened my eyes and changed my life. So much so that I realized that the so called “American Dream” is built all on a life of consumerism. Having a big house, a fancy car, the best gadgets and making a lot of money, that is what is advertised to people. I realized that this is all nonsense. Life is all about experiences, not about making money and consuming. To that end, I’ve been trying hard not to spend any more money on what is not necessary, be a true conservative and rein in my spending. Get rid of all the things that I don’t need. Stay tuned… but my future plans involve renting out my place and moving somewhere else to start over. I need to get away from here. It’s ironic saying this as my dream for many years was to come to California, but now my life has turned a different direction. The next step in my life. It’s better I realize this sooner rather than later.

In other news…
I got a job at Walmart. Yes, the Walmart e-commerce division which manages the website. Having this job means I can finally say that I’ve worked at every level of industry (as my former PEY director once said): Government, Startup, Small company, and Corporation. Getting into a big corporation finally is ironic because I’ve been wanting to find success at this level since my PEY days when my friends all got into IBM and I got rejected. Take that! 5 years later and I’m finally there working for the Fortune #1 company. Can’t get bigger than that. Plus, I get to work remotely, which is awesome for my future plans [hint, hint].

I’ve also got a Korean tutor now. That’s not to say going to Sejong Institute was a bad thing, it is a good place for Korean beginners, but I’m at the point where I really need to work on my conversation skills, listening and speaking, and a personal tutor is the best for that. I feel like it really makes a difference as now I can understand what words Koreans are speaking at a fast pace now, just need to work on the vocabulary part so I can translate it in my head.

I’ve been playing some pretty good Japanese fighting games recently. No not Dead or Alive or Tekken, but ones that focus more on story than fighting. Both BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma and Persona 4 Ultimax are pretty amazing games, both capable fighters but with pretty good stories underneath. They are 2 of the few games that I actually beat. They might be my favorite storyline games since Yakuza 4‘s amazingly twisted storyline and Catherine‘s morally twisted storyline.
I also played Xblaze Code Embryo, my first graphic novel, and it was pretty fun but frustrating when you don’t know why you got a bad ending.

Xblaze Code Embryo, A visual novel

Xblaze Code Embryo, A visual novel

…and I’ve finally switched to Android!! I’ve only used Apple iPhones for 2 reasons: 1) because they are small and compact and 2) because it has a good camera, and now that Apple has switched to larger phones just like Android devices and the cameras for Android devices have gotten better, I’ve finally made the switch.

Sony Xperia Z3C

Sony Xperia Z3C

Yup, I’ve decided NOT to support my beloved Korean companies Samsung and LG this time in favor of the Sony Xperia Z3C because: 1) its got the same footprint as my iPhone5S, 2) 20.7MP camera, 3) waterproof and dustproof, 4) HD audio decoding, 5) microSD slot, 6) 2 day battery life, 7) PS4 remote play
I mean need I say more? This is hands down the best compact Android phone out there right now, better than the Galaxy, LG, HTC One, Huawei, Xiaomi, Lenovo, ZTE, Archos, what have you.
Sony needs to advertise this more. 2+ days of battery life!

Videos
As always, I try to be productive all the time to record videos, and I’ve retired my faithful Canon HFM40 that I’ve been using for over 3 years for outdoor recording and music video recording in favor of my iPhone 5S for outdoor recording and the Sony Music Video Recorder for music video recording. Here’s some gadget reviews and music videos I’ve recorded.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7PP1N6h_18

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_0SxpwM8CI

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zMpwZZkeqc

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02mMQCLVbgA