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훌륭한 디자인 크로니클스: 티웨이항공

지난 블로그 포스트의 번역이다! 틀린 한국어 죄송합니다!
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나는 엔지니어와 디자이너이기 때문에 좋은 디자인이나 즐거운 경험을 우연히 발견할 때마다 기분이 꼭 좋다. 그래서 작은 지역 항공사의 비행기에서 굉장히 매력적인 비행을 보내니까 진짜 놀랐다.

티웨이항공은 서울에서 여러 가까이 있는 도시까지 (타이베이, 방콕, 후쿠오카, 제주도) 가는 작은 항공사이다. 주말엔 티웨이항공으로 계획하지 않게 제주도에 다녀왔다. 비행은 55분쯤이라서 불편한 한 시간일 줄 알았는데 정말 귀엽고 편했다.

우선, 승무원들이 매우 친절하다. 한국의 항공사라서 놀라지 않았는데 보통 짧은 비행에선 기내서비스가 별로 좋지 않다. 하지만 티웨이의 승무원들은 내 평생 모두 비행 중에서 가장 친절하고 매력적인 승무원이였다!

그리고, 제주도에서 돌아오는 길에 안전벨트 착용등이 끈후에는, 안내봉송이 들렸다. 승무원이 플릇을 불려고 한다고 했다. 정말로 굉장히 귀여웠다. 플릇 연주자가 아닌데 자신감 있게 충실도가 높지 않는 비행기 스피커로 노래를 2개 연주했다.  좀 긴장이 되게 보였는데 연주가 끝나고 나서 손님들 다 박수를 쳤고 승무원님은 수줍게 미소 지고 비행기 뒤에 가서 다른 승무원들에게 칭찬을 받았다. 안아 주고 싶었다.

좀 후에, 승무원들이 통로에 걸어가면서 손님들하고 얘기했고 사진을 찍고 손님에게 이메일로 보낼 수 있다고 제시했다.

이런 행동이 있었는데도 음료 서비스를 능숙하게 주었다!

티웨이항공은 분명히 잘 한다. 이륙한 후에 기장님이 소개할 때는 “감사합니다. 사랑합니다. 티웨이!”하고 소개 방송을 끝낸다. 우리도 사랑합니다. 또 티웨이로 여행갈 거다.

Great Design Chronicles: T'way Air

Update: 한국어 번역: http://thedarren.blogspot.kr/2012/10/blog-post.html

As an engineer and designer, I'm always delighted when I come across great design or delightful user experiences. So when I happened upon a wonderfully charming experience on a budget regional airline, I was a bit taken aback.

T'way Air is a small airline that flies between Seoul and a few other nearby cities (Taipei, Bangkok, Fukuoka, and Jeju). I took it roundtrip to Jeju on a last-minute trip over the weekend. The flight is only about 55 minutes in the air, so you would expect it to be an hour of suffering and then over. But instead, T'way has the cutest hour of flight possible.

First off, the flight attendants are amazingly friendly. This is not a big surprise for a Korean airline, but as a general rule, service and friendliness are compromised on short flights. Yet instead, I can honestly say that the flight attendants on T'way were among the most friendly and personable from any flight I've t…

Don't Take Korean Language Advice From Kyopos

I'm not sure why it took me so long to figure this out, but the last people you should take Korean language advice from are kyopos (foreign-born or raised Koreans). That being said, if you do follow their advice, you will get many laughs from Koreans. Some of my personal favorites, all of which actually happened to me:

- When I first got to Korea, I was at some open-air event, and during a break I started talking to one of the hosts. He said he was only a part-time host, so I asked him what his full-time job was, and he said "백수" (which is slang for "unemployed guy"). I asked him what that was, and he replied, "Comedian". So then the next few people I met, I proudly told I was a baeksu. (Edit: Actually, this guy was Korean Korean, not kyopo.)

- Next, a kyopo who lived in the apartment I moved into back in 2010 asked me what I was doing in Korea, and I told him I was starting a company, and asked how to say that in Korean in case people ask. He told me…

"Gangnam Style" English Translation

I finally got around to looking up the lyrics to Psy's "Gangnam Style" last night. I couldn't find any English translations that I liked, so I decided to make my own.

Disclaimer: I don't speak Korean. It's not my first language. It's not even my second or third language. But I did used to live in Gangnam, and the Internets abound with dictionaries, so I decided to give it a go. Incidentally, this is also my first foray into Korean-English translation. The translators out there will know - translation is as much art as science. If you translate directly, you end up with overly awkward constructions. But if you vary too much from the direct translation, you risk losing the original intent. So, in some places below, I've taken some poetic license to make the translation sound better. For example, "놀 땐 노는 여자" literally means "a girl who plays when it's time to play", but I changed it to "a girl who knows how to get down".…

Technology vs Evolution, a.k.a. The Battle Against The Machines

I love walking aimlessly around a new neighborhood right after moving, taking in the sights and discovering the ins and outs of the place. I particularly relish those moments when I can distinctly feel two disjoint areas of my mental map connecting. Initially, a new area is just a collection of landmarks - there's the palace, and I think the station is somewhere nearby, and there's a Starbucks around here somewhere, and that big road is maybe 15-20 minutes away from that other big road. But without actually experiencing how the sections connect to each other, the map in your head is necessarily incomplete. Maybe you can start in the center and work your way out radially to each of the landmarks, but what about getting from point A to point C? And then one day, as you're leaving point A and you turn the corner, you spot point C 500m up ahead, and the map will thereafter make perfect sense to you.

Just as this feeling came over me again the other day (that's where the st…

Apple Follow-up

Interrupting my viewing of last week's Daily Show to provide a quick update on the Thunderbolt situation.

First of all, it took an exceedingly long time to figure out how to do a clean install of Lion so I could give my system to the Apple contract store here in Korea. It turns out that most of Apple's instructions are incomplete, misleading, or simply incorrect. If you ever want to do a clean install, you need to:

1) Do a complete backup with Time Machine to an external drive (this is actually a great feature of OS X, and is super simple to set up).
2) Disable FileVault and wait for your hard disk to be decrypted. External recovery disks don't work with FileVault.
3) Create an external recovery drive on a USB external drive. Make sure the drive has GUID partition scheme - otherwise, it will appear to succeed, but actually won't.
4) Boot up to the external recovery drive by holding down Option while restarting.
5) Using Disk Utility, wipe the hard disk in the computer.

Apple and the Rich Idiot Babies

Apple devices are nice - they're pretty, they're shiny, they seem to be well designed. But then something breaks, and you quickly learn that appearances can be deceiving. It's only when something goes wrong that you truly learn how a company feels about their customers.
Take Zappos, for instance. Their customer service is famously good. I've experienced it firsthand, and it left me feeling like Zappos cared about me as a customer and treated me like a respected adult.
Apple, on the other hand, takes what I like to call the "rich idiot baby" approach to their customers. The operating system is designed from the ground up with kid gloves - e.g., why would you ever need to know where on your hard drive a file is actually located? Leave that to Dad to worry about. But for the most part it's still a usable OS, and since I do some iOS development, I decided that "the real thing" was the way to go.
Inevitably, sooner or later, something goes wrong. In …

The Marathon Cheat

Man, am I the only one fascinated by this article about the "Marathon Man" dentist, Kip Litton, who cheats in marathons, but no one can figure out exactly how?

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/08/06/120806fa_fact_singer

I was extremely disappointed to get to the end of this article without learning how he did it. How does he pull off such elaborate cheating? For those who don't want to take the time to read, this guy is trying to record sub-three hour times in marathons in all fifty states. He often starts races way at the back, taking up to five minutes to make it to the start line, then mysteriously disappears from most race photographs throughout the race, showing up again only at the end, yet somehow he passes over all the chip mats in the race, often at odd times. How does he do it?

I've never taken part in a traditional road race with bibs/chips, so I'm going to make some assumptions about how they work. Those who have participated, please correct me …

Job Creation In Korea

For a country that is astoundingly convenient and boasts probably the best infrastructure in the world, I'm often struck by how maddeningly inefficient everything is in Korea. It's almost as if inefficiency is deliberately built into the system in order to guarantee millions of extra jobs that would otherwise not exist. For instance, I know that if I need to do something simple at the bank, it will require at least an hour, two to three employees, and half a dozen calls to the main office. And I'm just talking about something like changing a phone number on an account.

My most fun recent experience with job creation in Korea has to be with my prepaid sim card. For the record, Korea finally entered the 21st century, and no longer treats all foreigners as phone phreaking terrorists, which means if you have an unlocked phone, you can buy a prepaid sim card for voice, texting, and data just by presenting your passport (go to Gwanghwamun Station, Exit 2, Olleh Square). It's…

Focus: The Most Important Skill In Your Life

I’d like to invite you to join me in an experiment. For the duration of this blog post, I’d like you to ignore all the normal distractions that incessantly steal your attention throughout the day. Disconnect from chat, close your social network feeds, log off your email. If your phone gets a text, let it sit there unread. Turn off the tv. Take the earbuds out of your ears and pause your music. Don’t switch away until you’ve finished reading. I’d like you to simply focus on this post and nothing else for the next few minutes of your precious time.

Can you do it?

Over the past year, I’ve had an awful lot of time to reflect. I’ve been systematically trying to simplify my life - getting rid of burdening possessions and spending my time and energy on projects and people that I love. Yet what you have and what you do are only the outward manifestations of your state of mind. Simplification comes from within, and I consistently find myself returning to the following idea: that the ability t…

Why Korean Is Hard For Native English Speakers

A couple of days ago, as an experiment, I wrote my first blog post ever in a non-English language. It was an attempt to explain some of the reasons that Korean is hard to learn for native English speakers, so I figured I might as well try to write it in Korean. Those of you who actually read Korean can see how awkward the attempt was =).

In any case, the post came from an email conversation I had with The Korean from Ask a Korean, a fantastically well-written blog about all things Korea from the perspective of a Korean who moved to the United States during high school. Since I tend to geek out on language things, I figured I might as well post part of that conversation. An edited version follows.

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Out of the languages that I've attempted to learn so far, Korean has been the hardest. I've done a lot of meta thinking about learning Korean, and I think there are a number of reasons it's difficult for non-Koreans (and especially Westerners) to learn:

1) Obviously, the…

영어가 모국어인 사람들은 왜 한국어를 배우기가 어려운 이유

이 포스트는 내 처음 한국어로 블로그 포스트인데, 한국어에 대하니까 잘 어울린다. =) 자, 시작합시다! 왜 외국사람에게 한국어를 배우기가 어렵다? 난 한국어를 배우고 있는 사람이라서 이 문제에 대해 많이 생각하고 있었다. 여러가지 이유가 있는데 오늘 몇 이유만 논할 것이다.

1. 분명히 한국어 문법은 영어에 비해 너무 많이 다른다. 영어는 “오른쪽으로 분지(分枝)의 언어"라고 하는데 한국어는 “왼쪽으로 분지의 언어"이다. 뜻이 무엇이나요? 예를 보면 이해할 수 있을 것이다. 간단한 문장만 말하면 (외국어를 말하는 남들은 간단한 문장의 수준을 지낼 수가 약간 드물다), 간단한 걸 기억해야 돼: 영어는 “SVO”인데 한국어는 “SOV”이다. “I’m going to school”라고 한국어로는 “저는 학교에 가요"라고 말한다. 영어로 똑바로 번역하면 “I’m school to go”이다. 두 언어 다르는 게 목적어와 동사의 곳을 교환해야 한다. 별로 어렵지 않다. 하지만, 조금 더 어렵게 만들자. “I went to the restaurant that we ate at last week.” 한국어로는 “전 우리 지난 주에 갔던 식당에 또 갔어요"라고 말한다. 영어로 똑바로 번역하면 “I we last week went to restaurant to again went”말이다. 한국어가 왼쪽으로 분지 언어라서 문장 중에 왼쪽으로 확대한다! 이렇게 좀 더 쉽게 볼 수 있다: “전 (우리 지난 주에 갔던 식당)에 또 갔어요”. 주제가 “전"이고 동사가 “갔다"이고 목적어가 “우리 지난 주에 갔던 식당"이다. 영어 문장은 오른쪽으로 확대한다: I (S) went (V) to (the restaurant (that we went to (last week))) (O). 그래서 두 숙어 문장 만들고 싶으면 생각속에서도 순서를 변해야 된다.

2. 첫 째 점이니까 다른 사람을 자기 말을 아라들게 하고 싶으면, 충분히 …

Building the Enterprise

Recently came across buildtheenterprise.org, a site containing a plan to build a starship like the USS Enterprise from Star Trek. Despite some huge technical issues, lemme just come out first and say THANK YOU. Whoever you are, BTE-Dan, thank you for dreaming big. The world needs people to dream bigger. There's been an awful lack of big thinking ever since we put a man on the moon (over 40 years ago!). Neal Stephenson, one of my favorite authors, describes the problem in this talk:


Just a warning, if you haven't already watched the above - it's kinda depressing. He mentions how "I saw the best minds of my generation writing spam filters." Okay, I might have worked on Gmail.... Point taken, Neal.

Anyway, the Enterprise site lays out a crazy plan to build the friggin' Enterprise.


It's got some issues, though. One of the big things that I think is completely glossed over is how to actually assemble the thing in space. We've assembled reasonably large str…

AT&T 4G and The Worst Commercial of 2012

Disclaimer: The below is satire and is for entertainment purposes only.

I don't subscribe to cable. When I moved back to San Francisco last summer, I decided to forgo it, despite my apartment coming equipped with a nice flat-screen tv. I do, however, watch the Daily Show pretty regularly, so a few months ago I decided to upgrade my setup (i.e., watching on a 13" laptop screen) so I could start watching like "real television". A quick Amazon purchase of a 10 foot mini-displayport to HDMI cable with pass-through audio later, and I had achieved an incredible feat of modern technology - I emulated a tv setup from 1995, except this one necessitated a $1200 laptop and an ugly cable draped across the living room. Hooray for modern technology.

Moving on. When you watch a show online with ads, you annoyingly start to see the same ads, over, and over, and over again. On the Daily Show, I have an incessant loop of Jack in the Box ("If you love bacon, make it official"…

Product Review: Transpacific Flights

I'm not sure exactly when it was that my brain "broke", but I find it nearly impossible to view products or services without thinking about why they don't work and how they could be made better. It's a constant obsession of mine, but I like tinkering, so it's all good.

Case in point: I flew ICN-SFO yesterday on one of my least favorite airlines for long flights. Let's call it Airline X. I chose Airline X for this trip specifically because it was significantly cheaper for my multicity itinerary. I usually like to fly Singapore or Asiana, both of which are fantastic, but it was a bit too pricey this time around.

Anyway, the experience on Airline X is consistently poor compared to the market leaders. What strikes me the most about it is that every time I fly them, it seems as if it's the crew's first day on the job. That is, they've clearly done the job dozens, hundreds, or thousands of times, but nothing is smooth. For instance, it's a commo…

If You're An "Ideas Guy", You're Doing It Wrong

There's a disturbing trend that I'm seeing more and more of lately in Silicon Valley, and it's the commoditization of engineering talent in the minds of non-engineers. I'm not sure what they're teaching in business schools these days, but I keep meeting freshly-minted MBAs who "have a great idea and just need some devs to implement it". So lemme just throw this out there:

If you're an "ideas guy", and "just need a couple of engineers" to build your company, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

See, for instance, this recent TechCrunch article which blithely implies that engineers are "coding themselves into irrelevance", and before long, "the business founder [will have] the advantage that today's technical founders enjoy." Huh? Guess what - in healthy companies, it's not such an adversarial relationship. If it is, then you're doing something wrong.

There is no greater turn-off to a prospective tech co-founder…

Slim Shady and Medicare Reform

Couldn't sleep last night, and watched the entire extended interview with Grover Norquist on the Daily Show. It was mostly about tax policy, but towards the end they briefly touched on Medicare reform, since the Norquist tax pledge really has nothing to do with the economy and everything to do with policy reform. The claim from Norquist was that the Republicans' plan is a reasonable reform proposal because Alice Rivlin, former director of the CBO and the OMB, helped co-write it. Jon Stewart replied that he doesn't think Alice Rivlin is a reasonable person.

To the internets! I actually found the proposal from the Brookings Institution and read it. To their credit, there's a whole section devoted to why the proposal is a bad idea. It's illuminating. It all comes down to marketing. What used to be called "vouchers" is now called "premium support". To make a long story short (and a complicated issue way over-simplified), voucher programs would repla…

The Day The Internet Died

It all started innocently enough. Sally was enjoying a cup of sustainable coffee at the corner cafe when she spotted it. ZOMG. Cutest. Cat. Ever. An explosion of uncontainable fluff wrapped in a hamburger bun sweater with a toy iPhone 4S hanging around its neck. My friends have to see this, thought Sally. And thus it began. Not with a virus, nor a worm, but a cat. An insanely cute cat.

The picture that brought down the Internet was captured at 12:21PM on December 21, 2012 with a slightly abused white iPhone 4S. It went vintage before going viral, cause honestly, sepia makes everything better. And off it went.

Sally's Instagram auto-posted to her Facebook, where 237 of her closest friends (she has 1,649 friends, but I mean, at least 400 are just, you know, on there) immediately saw The Cat. Sally's above-average hotness meant that her re-share rate hovered around 10%, and sure enough, 26 of the initial viewers re-shared to their combined total of 4,013 friends.

The Initial Post…

Statin Drugs, and the Congestive Failure of Pharma-centric Medicine

Disclaimer: Don't take medical advice from engineers.

The New York Times has an article out today about the side effects of statin drugs: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/health/fda-warns-of-cholesterol-drugs-side-effects.html. Seems that the more time that goes by, the less clear it is that statins are actually worth taking. I'm not going to claim that statins don't help - if you're interested in that line of thought, read this, for example. But I do think the massive over-prescription of statins endemic in Western medicine is illustrative of the problem of treating symptoms rather than causes.

The line of thinking goes something like this: People with heart disease have been found to have elevated levels of bad cholesterol (LDLs - which incidentally aren't even cholesterol, but instead transport cholesterol). Statins lower LDLs. Thus people should take statins in order to reduce risk of heart disease. The goal, of course, is to go from this logically fallacious …

Instagram for Hamburgers

Had an interesting conversation with a friend last night about innovation. I tend to align pretty squarely with the Peter Thiel school of thought, i.e., that innovation has stagnated massively in relative terms over the past 50 years, and we're generally not solving hard problems anymore. My friend thinks innovation is flourishing because "tools" and "frameworks" have gotten significantly better over the past 10 years or so, allowing people to go from  idea to prototype (or company) in record time. While that's true, I'd argue that this has actually led to a decrease in innovation rather than an increase, because it's so easy to build something silly and turn it into a play company.

For instance, most of you have probably seen the parody of stuff that Silicon Valley people say. But I actually hear about companies like this all the time. So today, I'd like to officially announce the pre-alpha release of BurgerFlux™, a.k.a Instagram for Hamburgers…

Christopher Hitchens, and Secret Superpowers of Stammerers

I'm a bit ashamed to say that prior to Christopher Hitchens' death, I don't think I had seen any of his interviews. I started YouTubing around the other day, and I was amazed at the videos I found. Regardless of whether you agree with his beliefs, it's clear that he was an amazingly vibrant intellectual mind and an incredibly skilled debater.

So I was also surprised to discover shortly into the first video that Christopher Hitchens was a stutterer!

As a stutterer myself, I possess the strange ability to spot other stutterers that non-stutterers usually can't. I remember once during university, a very prominent politician came to give a talk, and it was clear in her opening remarks that she was a "covert stammerer" (i.e., pauses and substitutes words, but doesn't repeat syllables). I asked my friends afterwards if they noticed anything strange about her speech, and no one did. I told them she was a stutterer, and they were quite surprised.

In any case,…

Cleanliness in Asia

I've spent about six months each in Tokyo, Shanghai, and Seoul, and there are some huge differences in cultural norms for personal hygiene and cleanliness between the East and the West. I picked up some good habits there, and look back now with filthy horror on certain breaches of sanitation that are considered normal here in the West. Here are three of the worst offenders:

1) Shoes in the house. Everywhere I've lived in Asia, you take your shoes off as soon as you enter the house. It makes a lot of sense - you've been walking around all day on god-knows-what, and if you then walk all over your home, you've brought all that stuff inside. Take your shoes off - your house will stay cleaner as a result.

2) Street-clothes on the bed. This one really bothers me now. I know tons of people in the States who will sit down in a disgusting city subway, lean back on a grimy seat at the movie theater, go hiking through a dusty forest, whatever, and the first thing they do when the…