Review of VPS hosts in Korea

Popular providers like DO, Linode and Vultr all have presence in Japan… but not in Korea, the country with the fastest internet connection on the planet, which is a shame.

And due to the language barrier, it’s pretty hard to find info on Korea-hosted VPS on the internet. This post aims to solve that

Straight to the point –

Cafe24

Probably the most popular host in Korea. They host websites, wordpress installation, bare metal server and of course… VPS. Here’s the price

Starting from $5.5 for 1GB RAM to 33$ for 4GB RAM, per month

Pros

  • You get 8 cores regardless of the plan
  • VMWare Virtualization
  • One dedicated IPv4 address
  • The best price you’ll get of any reputable provider
  • Select between Linux / Windows (costs more)
  • Pretty fast disk (twice as fast as Vultr)

Cons

  • Setup fee 22$
  • Pretty limited bandwith, 300GB per month at the worst case
  • Crappy CPU, the cores are really slow (I think they are second-gen Xeons), with most of the CPU extensions disabled… so they are only good for one thing: serving web pages (and no, they can’t do THAT thing you are thinking about when you read “8 cores” 😉
  • Of course you must speak Korean to register or contact support
  • Require a Korean ID

You can register for them here

Somagu (mud fish)

Cheapest provider I could find that have servers in Korea. Pretty simple interface. Prices

Starting at $2.57 permonth for 512GB RAM

Pros

  • Korean hosted
  • English support
  • Automatic activation
  • Cheapest of anything you can find in Korea
  • Don’t require a Korean ID

Cons

  • You get to share IP
  • Your shared IP is used by Chinese spammers… you’ll see a lot of IP change request in the support forum. I don’t know why but for some reason Chinese spammers love themselves a Korean address

You can find them here

iwinv

Price

From $4 per month for 1 core / 1GB RAM

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Free IP

Cons

  • Korean only
  • Requires Korean ID
  • Limited bandwidth

You can find them here

Amazon lightsail (Seoul region)

Available countries

Recently made available in Seoul, cheaper than EC2, a good choice if you are already tied into the Amazon ecosystem

Price starting from 5$ for 512MB RAM

Pro

  • Reputable
  • Easy to use
  • All in English
  • Don’t require a Korean ID
  • Generous bandwidth

Cons

  • More expensive compared to other options

Find ’em here

Amazon EC 2

Pro

  • Like lightsail
  • Much more versatile

Cons

  • Way way too expensive, unless you are a corporate user

You know where to find them

PHP school

Starting from 4,900 won for 512MB RAM

Cons

  • Pretty slow… can’t open their homepage at the time of writing

Find them here

Naver cloud

Starting from $13 for 1GB RAM

Pros

  • English support
  • Reputable company
  • No bandwidth limit

Cons

  • Expensive like EC2

You can find them here

about:programmingLanguages

“Which programming language is the best?” It’s the kind of question that you will keep getting from aspiring programmers (maybe with some minor variations but it’s essentially the same problem). It’s a difficult question to answer. Although as old as the question itself, the debate is still alive today as evidenced by:

this
this
… and this

I’ll have to warn you, if (just in case) you don’t have a sense of (developers’) humor: they are just jokes, really. There’s no such thing as a “best” language. Everything is there for a reason, including programming languages. So the answer to the question above is: it depends on what you really want to do. All the languages involved in the debate are general-purposed, which means they can be used to do just about anything. For example, you may think that C++ could never be used to produce web pages, Actually, you can always write a C++ program to listen for  HTTP GET requests and then send HTML to the client. Alternatively, if you are Microsoft-savvy, you can always write an ISAPI application for ISS to intercept requests and process them.

A second thing worth noting in the arguments used is the ability to bootstrap the language with itself, that is, you can make a compiler for a language by writing code in that same language. I agree with a contributor on Wikipedia:

The definition of a language by a self-interpreter is not well-founded (i.e., cannot be used to define a language), but a self-interpreter tells a reader a lot about the expressiveness and elegance of a language. It also enables the interpreter to interpret its own source code, the first step towards a reflective interpreter.

Why bother really? PHP and Ruby did their jobs well with the compilers written in C.It’s a waste of resources both in manpower and computing power’s term trying to reinvent the wheel.

Someone have sum up the desirable characteristics for an ideal language

The language should

  • Have an intepreter for rapid prototyping, ease of debugging, and maximum fun.
  • Have a native code (not just byte code) compiler that produces fast code that can be run stand-alone or be called from the interactive environment.
  • Have good support for vectors, multi-dimensional arrays, strings, hash tables, etc. in the standard library.
  • Have a free implementation.
  • Work under Linux and Windows (so I can transfer code easily between my desktop and my laptop).

But that’s a person dream. For most of us who doesn’t have quite enough formal description enough to write anew language, we’ll have to make it with existing ones. Below is my stance on some of the (more popular) languages but if you wont a more detailed comparison of each language’s characteristics, this may be interesting to you.

C and C++

They are used to make just about anything. The difference between them is C++ have a more extensive set of libraries, which is expensive in term of storage space to implement so it’s not as popular on embedded devices as C. Their application may range from programming microchips to a whole operating system (you name it. Linux, Windows and Mac may seems all different but they are all in C and C++).

A common misconception is that there’s something a language cannot do. If you haven’t seen anyone write web pages in C and C++ then try to type your DSL modem’s address into your browser. You should see a web page that allow you to configure the device. Such a device wouldn’t have enough processing power for the additional abstraction layer of a web server’s but instead its role is encompassed by the firmware. The firmware itself, is of course, written with you-know-what.

In short, they are good if you are going to deal with hardware programming.

C#/Java

Considered high-level languages, they are the most promising platform to implement 4th generation languages. Notice that I wrote “platform” and not “language”. This is because C#/Java is merely an interface for a lower language, the common language for .net and bytecode for Java. The additional abstraction gives the developer the freedom to move the application across platform. Input and Output are not necessarily specific devices anymore. You can output to a screen or a printer, it’s the same to the language. You can have a language run on a mobile device or a PC without changing anything in the code, the virtual machine took care of it. You can use a module in a desktop application in a web service without any modification, increasing reusability and reduce the amount of work required to write code.

Because these language was designed later than C and C++ and targeted developer instead of computer scientists, you are no longer required to remember the difference between pointer and variable, don’t have to freak out with memory management and other trivial matters. Package and variable names are also neatly named according to a naming standard, since these language is controlled by a singe entity.

In a nutshell, choose them if you want to properly apply development paradigms and produce quality software that run fast and reliable, anywhere. But you will grow dependent on the managing companies though (namely Microsoft and Oracle)

Ruby and Python

Developer-to-developer languages. They are written with only one goal: get things done, as fast as possible. And as such they employ a vast number of libraries and add-on (and you will have to remember all their syntax). Professional developer seems to have no problem with that though, so they are quite popular among the web community. That’s why ruby thrives on rail and Google is built off Python. They have a different syntax from C (which is also different from all the languages above) though, so switching to them may be a problem for newcomers.

PHP

Started as a collection of script and the result of a developer disgruntled with his boss, PHP is released for free because it can’t be sold at first but accidentally, it’s just that that make it popular. Because it’s free, it’s a convenient platform to implement open-source projects that the user can download a whole platform off the Internet and have it running free-of-charge. Googling for WordPress and Joomla is enough to demonstrate PHP’s popularity.

Since PHP seems to have matured (its main version number stayed at 5 for two years now and had no significant changes since), it’s a good language to learn if you are intending to go freelance serving small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who doesn’t have enough financial ability to employ powerful servers and expensive softwares.

http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~murphyk/Software/which_language.html

The webgame storm

It was not so long ago the web was still a bunch of text-only HTML without CSS and stuff. Now it can open your documents, let you communicate, catch the latest scoop on entertainment, then why not play games on it?

Before, the web was designed to deliver text-based content. Most related technologies are also text-oriented: CSS, XML, AJAX, and JavaScript. But now, as browsers have got more mature and text features are saturated among competitors, there goes the performance race. JavaScript got faster, as JIT compiling and other interpreted language technologies are improved. Now games are feasible and the web game industry began to rise. GIF for sprites, PNG for effects, JavaScript is capable of image processing is far than enough to make a game possible.

For web game, you know I don’t mean those simple flash games you play at work to make your boss mad, but instead role playing games that will take you an indefinite amount of time to play, just like Lineage or Ragnarok. Those game is also a kind of society, where players can communicate with each other, thus games could be considered a part of the 2.0 hype.

This is far from being an exhaustive review of web games, but instead the experiences I have with them.

Gaia online

Possibly the most influential web game now is Gaia Online, a collection of game and community activities. As the biggest, it also causes most controversial problems (say pedophilias). It’s not a single game with a single story but it does have role playing elements like quests. Nevertheless, it’s nice interface and huge community is quite attractive to those who have nothing else to do. Gaia also sure inspired a lot of modern web games.

Gaia online town

Image: CNET

Gameforge

Gameforge is an influential game maker emerged recently. Though their games are pretty much in beta stage, their international approach (provides as many language as possible) seem to be effective. Based on the number of new games they release each year, it’s clear that they made quite a lot selling enhancements to their games. Those enhancements does not provide a real advantage over those who don’t have time, but that’s a right move: they attracted a huge number of free players that even the slightest advantage will have effect toward thousands of another players.

Most of their games are real-time. That is, moving armies or explore and area will cost you hours in real life. It’s up to you when to care about the game but the more you care about it, the more successful you are. It’s like the Japanese’s Tamagochi where your chicken is now a gladiator or an empire :P.

They also don’t have a nice interface like other producers. I’m unsure why but all their games look pretty clumsy to me

Ikariam is the most recently Gameforge game I played. You can build cities in an ancient Rome theme. You build cities on islands with a specific resource. Among them: Wine, Marble, Crystal and Sulphur. You can freely develop your empire, research to improve technologies, build troops to defend your empire or wage war at another, trade and exercise diplomacy with other empires. Addictive and time-consuming. Though you don’t have to wait for the buildings to build, you are always at risk getting attacked if you are not prepared; and even if you did prepared, you might get attacked by someone stronger anyways :p

Ikariam city view

Before, I have also played Gladiatus, where you play the role of a Roman gladiator. You can fight others, work to earn money, do quest to gain fame etc. Simple interface, you don’t actually see the gladiators combat and I get bored after a while doing repetitive actions: work – quest – explore – buy / sell items – dungeon – work, and get bashed by stronger players (though their levels are lower). It’s still a mystery how they get so many gold to win at auctions ;).

Other Gameforge games include bitefight, kingsage and ogame.

Though those games are of great entertainment value, Gameforge is quite stingy to rely that much on volunteers to exercise control on the game. Even when it cost them almost nothing hiring those volunteers (they pay by in game bonuses), they are still reluctant to hire some more. It’s funny when they don’t allow multiple accounts in their rules but doesn’t have any automatic control over user registration. Instead they rely on 5 game operators to ban each of the violating accounts. Imagine when 30% of the server of 10 thousand players decide to go against the rule, what will happen?

Well, that is happening already and it made those games tasteless to me now, since Vietnamese are so clever to dodge the rules to satisfy their deflated self-esteem in games :(. What’s the good for that anyways? Games are games and they still spend hours to fight in game, and then take another hour to fight on the forum. In the end, it turns out that all the big shots are multis 🙂 (Note that multi account players have a huge advantage over those who don’t, say, a 1000% increase in resources by manipulating the clones).

I’m off until those games get better so I can play it the way I want, undisturbed by idiots who have no reasoning capabilities. I’m giving away my accounts for Ikariam and Gladiatus for someone who can take care of them under one condition that I can borrow them sometimes :). My Ikariam account is 4 months old on Gamma and has 3 cities: level 16 -16 -15. The Gladiatus one is somewhere around level 19. Email me if you have inquiries about this.

Aurora blade

A RPG, where you can actually cast spell, do action and handle items, which you once thought it wouldn’t possible without a 2 GB client :P. Its graphics is quite nice though the image compression is somehow flawed (you can see jagged JPGs all around). Nice game with rich content, from monster fighting, quests to game events. Though it’s criticized for copying many designs from Ragnarok and WoW, it still take quite a lot of effort to build this game and integrate all the graphics. Cheers for the Chinese! (IGG is founded by Chinese).

In Vietnam

Though the big guys have developed quite a stand in this business with quality games and strategic moves, smaller publisher and developers still find their foothold somewhere. Sadly, most of the games in Vietnam are still just translations from foreign developers (again, Chinese). Though they employed large advertisement campaign and sexy cosplayers I still find little interest in them. First, they are from China. What’s so great about Chinese games? Or are they paid by the Chinese to accomplish the cultural elimination the Chinese was unable to complete years ago? Second, under their colorful interface, you can barely find the register link (sometimes you actually have to ask to be shown the register link :P).

There are quite a lot of stuff to entertain you on the net already. Web games are still at the beginning of their era. Even though they have come over technical challenges, most of them still don’t fit the average user’s playing habit. For any SimCity fanatic out there, Ikariam is like a disater where your beloved city get ripped of its bone by aliens from the next planet :P. Each of the game has its own strength and weakness, competition between them would be a fun thing to watch in the future.

In Vietnam, I don’t think any of those games will make a difference.

  1. The current economic crisis have driven away some hardcore player. They have to make a living!
  2. There are fewer clients who is willing to buy virtual stuff to support a game.
  3. Unless Vietnamese gamers’ barbaric and lawless attitude is changed, those game won’t attract the more educated classes. Playing along with idiots is pretty irritating. (LEEEEEROY!)

End of another lengthy post 😛

Tumblelogs

Tumblelog is a term coined in 2005[1] to denote blogs which favor short posts, most of the time sharing only a single item. I encountered the first such blog on 2007[2] but it didn’t really impressed me. Not until last night, when I was shown a comic translation blog [3]. Tumblelogs are just great for the purpose! It allowed instant sharing of daily comic (one thing jumps right in my thoughts: there is a bookmarklet somewhere) without any comments, category or other hassles. On the other hand, perhaps the comic blog above is too simple it don’t tell us where the comics come from, nor mention Garfield’s author (so I’m not condoning it at all, just an example).

It’s also worth a note to distinguish between tumblelog and microblog. While microblog is primarily aimed at status updates, it also allows you to post multimedia content like tumblelog. But your status could change anytime, anywhere, so you’ll need an equivalent update convenience (e.g. mobile updates). On the other hand, tumblelogs are designed to share content, and as you may encounter most content while surfing, think bookmarklet and email-to-post. You can see the gap between two services is not big, and as this article is being written, more features are being stuffed to twitter (that’s why its interface has turned in to a big bunch of text instead of one line of status :P)

Okay, too much ranting again. I only wanted a short review about current tumblelog services when I started writing!

Tumblr

Not the first Tumblelog software, but the first one is currently down so I can’t test it :P.

Tumblr seems to be the most popular tumblelog service around. Clean interface, but there are only a few themes available. None looked good enough for me :/. The theme installation from theme garden worked erratic somehow. For the functionality, Tumblr is pretty good, it pulls the page to its server after you add it with the bookmarklet; analyze the page to find contents you may want to blog about on the page.

Tumblr could be linked with twitter so that all twitter updates will be copied to your Tumblr and vice versa. Also, you can import feeds, bookmark from social bookmarks and posts from other blogging services (thus Tumblr could also act as a bridge to let your twitter followers know when you write a post or bookmark something).

Media could be uploaded to Tumblr but there is a 10MB file size limit (I’m unsure what the storage limit is, see quote below). If you want to post bigger stuff, you are on your own.

Tumblr retains the right to create limits on use and storage in its sole discretion at any time with or without notice. [Terms of service]

The bookmarklet is in the “Goodies” tab; there you’ll also find your email-to-post address, iPhone app and third party apps. The dashboard interface is a little clumsy, functions are distributed on tabs, sidebar, and a menu; but that doesn’t seem to limit Tumblr’s popularity.

You can customize the theme with HTML and CSS. You can also attach your Tumblr to your domain as long as you are able to modify A records (it took a really long time to propagate through the nameservers so you may be unable to view your blog for one or two days if you use this). There are APIs available, but I haven’t looked to see what they can do (yet).

Soup.io

Quite a competitor for Tumblr, most of the features are the same. The interface has more web 2.0 slides and fades, but the page still refreshes to update itself so I’m still not completely satisfied with this service. It allows you to import from more services (say furl or weheartit) but its bookmarklet isn’t as good. It will only detect media on popular sites; it does not analyze the page so it’s very likely that you’ll have to prepare a link to the media first.

The basic theme structure seems to be fixed. However you are allowed to theme it with CSS

Gelato

Seeing Tumblelogs in action somewhat annoy me why such a small amount of content take a whole page load? Isn’t some AJAX to flip pages are better? Then I went to the usual developer’s craze wanting to develop a whole new service that satisfies my every need, since the above are hosted by the blog provider. And as paranoid as a user may be, leaving data on a stranger’s server just doesn’t bring a nice feeling :P.

Fortunately, thank to the free culture (as in free beer :P), someone must have done the job for you! In this case it’s Pedro Santana: from Gelato’s homepage you can download the source (latest at the time of writing: 0.95).

Pretty close clone of Tumblr. To the average user Gelato only provides basic features. You can blog, change the theme, use the bookmarklet but that’s all. The advantage is you have full control over it. Its template share similarities with WordPress.

Still no AJAX for page transition, which I’m pretty disappointed since it advertised itself “built upon AJAX”. But I don’t think that would be a problem though, you have the source of a working Tumblelog!

about:brief and about:scribeFire

Don’t know when I started… Somewhere during the last week. I looked at Firefox’s featured add-ons list while updating my plugins (yes, I manually update
them for compatibility’s sake), I noticed Brief and ScribeFire (with nice logos :P), they are all free and are featured, which implies they are good for something. Why don’t give them a spin?

Brief

Yes. I use Windows. Don't laugh!

This plugin lets you read feeds and that’s it! It has a nice interface with fold in and out effects (possibly some jQuery hidden behind); it now works with NoScript (they said so in the change log). Its advantages over Firefox’s live bookmark are:

  • You get to see the content of the post from the feed.
  • You can rate, mark read and deletes items.
  • Set individual update rate for each feed, or for all feeds.
  • Nice and customizable interface. (If you know CSS)

To me, at first it looked like a nice alternative to Microsoft Outlook’s feed functionality and I like its customizable interface. I have a feed with oversize pictures inside, it makes me scroll to see the content, all I have to do is go to the customization interface, and type some simple CSS

.article-content {
    width: 80% !important;
    overflow: hidden;
    font-size: 12pt !important;
}

font {
    font-size: 12pt !important;
}

Basically, the above CSS set the width of the content element to roughly 80% of the full window width, tell Firefox to trim off anything that come further than the edge, force all text size to 12 points to readability; and that’s it! The text content is wrapped nicely inside the window’s width, oversized pictures are trimmed off, should I want to view then, and “View Image” will come in handy.

To see brief’s elements on the page, go to Brief’s page description. Yes you can use some web development tools but trust me, all you got inspecting the page is a bunch of JavaScript insert :P.

<body>
    
<a class="article-title-link"/> <!-- Shown only in full articles: -->
</div>
</div> </div> </body>

But because it inherited from Firefox’s Live bookmark, it also share LB’s limitations like you can’t read the full post inline (if the publisher have chosen to publish it short), this can be frustrating reading feeds with lots of item. You want to read it? New tab! Shouldn’t a feed reader simplify the reading process? And looks like it’s compatible only with feeds which the Live Bookmark feature in Firefox is capable of reading.

And as a plugin, it has problems of its own, like it can rarely update the feeds on itself. At first I thought this was BetterCache’s fault, but even after disabling BetterCache, it still won’t update my feeds even if I clicked on each of them and choose “Update feed”. To have the feeds refreshed I have to go to the bookmark sidebar and update the like bookmarks there. Only then would the new items appear

So, if you want a news reader and like to pray that the updates work (possibly it just doesn’t like me), and always wanted to change the way how your news look, then Brief is right; but if you are looking for something that will satisfy all your reading need, there’s still a long way to go.

ScribeFire

A lightweight blogging plugin (about 500K). It lets you conveniently blog about stuff you like (a site, an image, you tube video etc.) straight from Firefox with a mouse click (or F8).

Yes, it implements many popular blogging services like WordPress, Blogger, Xanga, and custom blogs that implement the MetaWebLog API. For the basic part, it allows you to create / edit posts in a WordPad-like interface.

It is capable of

  • Drafting (called notes)
  • HTML Editing
  • Preview (it will temporarily publish the post to your blog and let you view it inside the editing pane, not live preview like WLW)
  • Post management (Add / Edit / Remove)
  • Differentiate between pages and post (WordPress’ page options not implemented, make sense because this is a general blogging software)
  • Category management (but not hierarchical, again, this is only WordPress specific)
  • Technorati tags
  • Timestamp edit

In short, it lets you perform all the basic function all the blogging platform allows you in common. It’s quite good, I tried several posts and it does its job really fast, comparable to Word’s; there’s also some “extra” function like:

  • Insert a Flickr Image: You can search for Flickr images which match a keyword and insert it to your post, albeit the process is slow. I would prefer a Flickr-code text box, insert the image page URL and get the picture inside that page inserted (Flickr scatter a transparent 1×1 GIF over its images you can’t just save image as…)
  • Insert a You tube video: Same as Flickr.
  • Blogging toolbar: when you visit a blog of yours that you have registered with ScribeFire, you can quickly edit your posts and page by clicking their titles, nice feature that WordPress lacks, but can be fixed with a simple template tag (but that’s another story).

    Blogging toolbar

  • Managed ads: Haven’t tried this feature. Looks like it lets you insert and track ads easier, but I don’t like this one. I know that the plugin maker has the right to make some dough from this but it makes me suspicious if this plugin’s authenticity. To this point I trust it solely because it’s Mozilla-featured, and I’m still dubious. Furthermore, the space it takes to the left of the page looks clumsy; I just want to remove it off sight!

And as all my suspicions went, it’s right to some point. Since I began writing this post, I haven’t opened ScribeFire’s home page, I turned off all Firefox’s updates and only open some posts from my server (which is like thousands of miles away from ScribeFire’s), look at the traffic to and from my computer and see I’ve got:

See that nice IP? 8.10.72.201, let’s find out where is it

Surprise!

I could find out what it is trying to send back home, but doesn’t like to. I’m not going to use this for long anyway. Yes, it does its primary function quite good, but I doesn’t like that interface. Would you prefer the editor you see several paragraph above or this:

Blogging with Word

I know that Word doesn’t have the full functionality set, but I feel more inspired blogging with Word than ScribeFire. UI over functionality, how superficial I am :P. But that’s not the only drawback of this plugin.

  • Every time you insert an image, you will have to wait for it to upload if it’s from your computer, in contrast with Word which uploads the image after you have published the post. ScribeFire’s approach makes the user wait, even if the delay is relatively short on broadband, it’s still a delay and the user (me) isn’t comfortable with it. It does have the advantage of easier control on which image has been uploaded and which have not (Word always upload all images every time you publish a post), but again, Word does not make the user wait: money can’t buy time but it can buy server space :P.
  • No find function in the code view (while the near-WYSIWYG editor has). You have like 1000 lines of HTML for your post? Forget your custom classes!
  • You can open multiple instances of it, ScribeFire will slow you browser down for a while but it will let you. This may easily confuse you and have you edit in the wrong window, especially when you are busy. And that lead to post conflict…

Both of the plugins are new, they have the potential to become better but for the moment, I’m done testing.