10 February 2011

Flying to Seoul and Jeju-do, South Korea

This year started good with a Finnair flight Amsterdam – Helsinki – Seoul. It was the first time I flew with Finnair and it was a very pleasant experience. The crew was friendly, modern airplanes and the Helsinki Airport was small and easy to move around.

Finnair entertainment system booting

The Finnair entertainment system apparently uses Linux as its operating system.


During the flight you can select the view from a forward camera, or a downward camera. This was the first time I could see a take off and landing just like the pilot sees it!


We approached Seoul from the north west. You can see the island of Jeju-do (or Cheju) further down south.


Arrival at Incheon Airport

Getting around the airport is easy. All signs are also in English and many of the younger Korean people like to talk English.


Welcome to Seoul!

Seoul was actually just a stopover. We arrived in the morning at Incheon Airport, took a train to Gimp Airport and boarded a Jinair flight to Jeju-do. The entire trip took about 24 hours…

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Train station near Incheon Airport

Before we boarded the plain to Jeju-do we ate some lunch

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Example dishes at Jeju-do Airport


My first Korean food at Gimp Airport

At Jeju-do we ate one the local specialties: Okdomi

It is a ubiquitous and tasty a local fish that is semi-dried before grilled and has a gourmet taste.

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Korean Coca Cola

Standard Soputh Korean side dishes

Standard South Korean side dishes: kimchi, bean sprouts, spinach, and other stuff


Outside the restaurant: preparing cabbage for kimchi


Cabbage for kimchi


We ate the fish at the Bada Yechan Restaurant in Jeju-do.

09 February 2011

iPhone 4 Photography Apps

The iPhone 4 is also a very good camera – 5 megapixels and most important small, light weight and I carry it always with me!

Here is my list of photography apps which I use to take awesome photos:

ProCamera replaces the standard Camera app on my iPhone for the following reasons:

  • Faster startup
    ProCamera loads much faster when you exit the app and re-open it.
  • Expert Mode
    You can set the focus point and exposure point on two different areas on the photo. In the standard Camera app the focus point is also used to determine the exposure. This is not always desirable.
  • Virtual Horizon
    Helps you to keep the horizon level in your photos.
  • Anti-Shake system
    ProCamera takes the photo will take the picture when you hold your iPhone still.

pro hdr
I use Pro HDR to take photos with an increased dynamic range. Photos with extreme light/dark situations look much better when taken with Pro HDR. Pro HDR lets me tweak the end result, the HDR mode of the standard Camera app does not allow this.

app flickr
This is the official Flickr app. Good to do a quick upload, or to set the privacy level of a photo.

I use FlickStackr to do some serious browsing through Flickr photos. Automatic caching of photos makes this app much faster then the official Flickr App.

photo wallet
Photo Wallet
I use Photo Wallet to download my Flickr photos on my iPhone. I can show the photos without being connected to the Internet.

The Photographers Ephemeris for iOS
The Photographer's Ephemeris (TPE) is a handy app to determine when and were the sun will come up and where it will set. I use this to plan my arrival times at locations where I want to shoot photos. There is also a free Windows version. I wrote about this version in my blog post ‘Sunrise and Sunset For (Landscape) Photographers’.

360 Pano
360 Pano creates panoramas in real time. Just start up the app, pan around and save the results. I got some pretty good panoramas with this.

Jongmyo Shrine Panorama

Panorama of Jongmyo Shrine in Seoul, South Korea taken with 360 Pano
Click here to see a larger version.

Photoshop Express
I use Photoshop Express for those pesky photos which are rotated with the wrong side up when viewed, or to do a quick crop.

Fast and fun way to share photos.

08 February 2011

07 February 2011

Los Angeles Twilight Approach and Landing

Surfbum published this wonderful video of a low level approach and landing at LAX Airport during a fiery red sunset. The video below is 30 actual minutes compressed into about three minutes.

The video is taken with the Canon Powershot S95 compact camera. The Canon Powershot S95 has one of the largest sensors for a compact camera. Coupled with maximum aperture of f/2.0 (wide angle view) the camera can take some really nice photos and video during low light.



If you want to see it in real time / raw video, check out the video below

06 February 2011

South Korean Toilet Traveller’s Guide

South Koreans like their technological gadgets and have apparently changed their toilets into gadgets too.
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South Korean Toilet
Of course the seat is heated, but let’s take a look at the control panel.
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South Korean Toilet Control Panel
I had no idea what the buttons did. There was no instruction manual! I pressed the blue button – a little nozzle pushed out from the back of the bowl to the front and happily sprayed water upwards. Closing the lid does not stop this (there is still room for improvement in the user interface…). Luckily the red button does what you expect – stop the water flow and retract the nozzle.
To prevent further accidents I left the other buttons untouched…
Back home I found out this toilet is a DoBiDos bidet. It is the Daelim DB-752NA, one of the bestsellers of the Korean firm Dobidos (www.dobidos.co.kr).
This is what the buttons do:
Top Button Group from left to right (low / medium / high setting):
Set Water Temp, Seat Temp, Econo function (set water and seat temperature to the lowest setting)
Coloured Button Group
Red – Stop
Blue – Wash function
Green – Bidet function
Grey – Dry function
Three Button Group right hand side
Move nozzle Front / Back
Middle button starts an automatic nozzle movement front-back giving a massage effect.
Lower Right Button Group
Set water pressure for the Wash and Bidet function

05 February 2011

Konglish in South Korea

During my trip in South Korea I encountered some funny usage of the English language. This is called Konglish.
How not to lose your items (seen on a luggage cart)
“To prevent losing your belongings, please do not put your personal items on a shelf. We apologize for any convenience”
Written on an airport luggage cart.

Keep out this room except for the responsible staff
“Please, Keep out this room except for the responsible staff because it is the area preparing for housekeeping the rooms”
Sign placed outside a housekeeping room in a hotel in Seoul

Present Food Coupon, Exchangs Spoon
“Present Food Coupon, Exchange Spoon”
Instructions in a restaurant

What to do with inconvenience items
“If you have any inconvenience items, Please call near Staff”
Found on the wall in a toilet

Description of the tree
“Description of the tree is available under or next to a tree. Will be reading a lot of help”
In a Bonsai park

Have a feeling fine day
“Have a feeling fine day”
In a train station

Please don't go up
“Please don’t go up”
Sign on a hill of a Bonsai park

Moving Forward
“Moving Forward”
Sign explaining the route through a Bonsai park

We love having you here.
“We love having you here”
We are glad we are here too.

South Korea Toilet Instruction
South Korea Seoul Toilet Instruction. No English text here, but still very funny.

04 February 2011

Mapping your Way on a Holiday with The Cartographer iPhone App

Before starting a trip I always make a custom map in ‘the My Maps’ section of Google Maps containing the locations of all the sights I want to see. It helps me to visualize which locations are close to each other, and which place is nearby when I am walking around. After inputting all the locations I had to make printouts of all relevant regions of the map. I used these maps while travelling.
An iPhone app called ‘The Cartographer’ changed all that for me.

The app gives me access to all my locations pinned in a ‘Google My Map’ (the software syncs with Google Maps). You can even pin locations on your iPhone and sync them back to Google Maps.

The most important feature for me is offline maps. The Cartographer can download maps from the OpenStreetMap database for offline usage (at the time of writing Google Maps are only available with an online Internet connection). On a recent trip I downloaded the maps of Seoul and Tokyo beforehand into my iPhone. This way I could navigate around without paying expensive charges for Internet access from a foreign country.

Downloading the maps is easy. In the app you can trace an outline of the area you wish to download for offline viewing. Next step is to select a zoom level. The app will tell you how many kilobytes/megabytes of data must be downloaded for a certain zoom level. You can then instruct the app to download the offline map. Please note the download can take 1-2 hours or more when you select a detailed zoom level.

The Cartographer worked flawlessly while travelling in Seoul and Tokyo. I could walk around in Tokyo, see where I was on an offline map (no Internet access needed!) and walk straight through my destination, thanks to the built in GPS support. I also placed pins on interesting spots on the map so I could find back home where I was exactly.
Here are some screenshots:

cartographer tokyo
Tokyo Map

The black ‘lollypop’ drops a pin in the center of the screen. You can use this for later reference to see where you were. The ‘crosshairs’ repositions the map so that your current position is in the center of the screen.
The yellow tabs are all the sights I pinned down into a Google ‘My Map’. The blue dot on the right hand side shows my position – in the Narita Express heading for Tokyo.
cartographer seoul
The Cartographer showing my position on the South Korean Island Jeju-do.

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Near Harajuku station in Tokyo

During my stay in Tokyo version 1.2 of the Cartographer was released. In this version you can adjust the ‘vintage effect’ of the map. Here the ‘vintage effect’ is removed leaving a ‘clear map’ in ‘Google style’  While I like the ‘vintage effect’, I used the ‘clear map’ more often because it shows more information with less clutter on the screen.

I liked The Cartographer a lot and I will certainly use it on my next trips. No need to printout all your Google Maps, just keep them in your iPhone. The developer is also very responsive and answered all my questions I had when I started using version 1.0. You can seem many more screen shots and demos at http://cartographer-app.com/ 
Highly recommended!

03 February 2011

Oktapodi in Oia

Joy sent me a link to this wonderful and funny Oscar nominated Animated Short Film called ‘Oktapodi’. The village in the film sure looks a lot like Oia!


And take a look at ‘The Making Of Oktapodi’ at http://www.oktapodi.com/makingof/

01 February 2011

Must Have iPhone 4 Apps

A personal digital assistant must be easy to use and have all the functionality I need. To give you an idea how I am using an iPhone 4 let’s start with the list of apps I use regularly:

Pocket Informant
Pocket Informant (PI) is a great calendar app. It has much better list and month views than the standard Calendar app. PI can also sync directly with Google Agenda. PI also supports ToodleDo.

ToodleDo is a to-do list manager, accessible from the webm iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Starting with IOS 5 a default Reminders app is included in iPhone, but is is very basic. ToodeDo offers folders, tags, contexts, subtasks and more.

GoodReader is a super-robust and fast PDF reader. It is much faster than the built in PDF reader.

I use Boxcar to poll my e-mail inboxes for new e-mail. When a new e-mail arrives Boxcar sends a notification to my iPhone. The 'standard' way of polling e-mail inboxes with your iPhone uses a lot more battery power. With Boxcar I can reduce the number of open TCP/IP connections needed. Boxcar can also send notifications when RSS feeds change, Twitter gets updated etc etc.

Evernote is my digital equivalent of a notebook. All my notes are accessible from Windows, Mac, Web and iPhone. The iPhone client supports the downloading and syncing of notebooks to your iPhone storage (only for paid subscriptions). This is great in case you want to access large amounts of information and your Internet access is slow, not available or very expensive (especially travelling abroad).

TuneIn Radio
I use TuneIn Radio to listen to the news broadcasts on Radio 1 and BNR Nieuws Radio.

Reeder provides mobile access to all my RSS feeds. I use Google Reader to keep up to date with the news on my Windows PC. Reeder syncs with my Google account to give me a seamless experience. Whenever I read an RSS entry on one device, it will not show up for a second time on another device.

Listpro is great for re-usable lists like packing lists and reference lists (reusing a list in ToodleDo is cumbersome). Listpro is more flexible in this respect. Enter all your data wit the Windows client and use the lists with the iPhone app.

PingChat! is ideal to share text, photos, contact info and location info with other iPhone, BlackBerry or Android users. Sending and receiving the information is free. Downside is that you must know the nickname of the person you are trying to reach.

WhatsApp is another messaging app which allows you to exchange info for free. Your messaging partner is identified with his mobile number. No exchange of nicknames is needed. Just install the app and it will tell you which of your contacts are also using WhatsApp.

I am a Tomtom user since my HP iPaq 2210 days. (I even used Tomtom’s predecessor navigation software for Psion handhelds made by Palmtop). I use the Tomtom iPhone app because it is an offline navigation solution. No internet connection is needed.

Speed Test
Speed Test is a handy iPhone app to benchmark your Internet connection.

The Teamviewer iPhone app can be used to remote control Windows and Mac desktops. You should see and hear the reactions of people when I ask them to install Teamviewer so I can help them with a problem. I can’t even believe it myself that I can use a smartphone to take over someone’s desktop!

The IMDb app is handy when you are watching something on television and you are wondering where you have seen that actor before.

Key Ring
I use the Key Ring app to have a digital copy of my loyalty cards, membership cards and all your other reward cards you might have. Previously they were at home when I needed them, now they are a few clicks away.

MyKeePass gives me (read-only) access to all my personal and secret information stored in KeePass files. Unfortunately I cannot change or edit the information. I hope a new version of MyKeePass will solve that.
Update: I switched to Lastpass to store my personal and secret information. Haven't used the iPhone client yet.

Dropbox makes file sharing a breeze. Just drop the file in a Dropbox folder, and use it on your iPhone. Did you know Dropbox can synchronize your iPhone photos to your desktop?