Recently, our office finished reading Tribal Leadership as a group. Since Justin and Ivan discovered this book, we have been trying to identify our values here at MerchantOS. During our first quarter reviews, we all wrote down some things that we value as a company. Continue reading
I wish I could say that riding a Komodo dragon and snapping pictures of my friend trying to make out with a bronze Orangutan was the strangest thing that happened to me on this last trip. But it wasn’t, this was Toronto – a strange and wonderful megalopolis in Ontario, Canada. Here’s what I was up to while avoiding your emails and calls.
I felt an unease as my 26th birthday approached. I began to panic, I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew whatever it was, I didn’t want to do it in Olympia. A few Skype messages later I decided to meet up with my old drinking buddy from college, Matt Funston, the aforementioned primate lover. He’s a soft-faced, loveable man-child that likes to use a Scottish accent while drinking. To this day I’m not sure if he has control over that or not.
Matt and I met at the iconic Sneaky Dee’s on College Street where our empty stomachs could not meet the challenge of The Destroyer – a TexMex mutation of the Canadian staple, poutine. We were, as our clever waitress put it, destroyed by The Destroyer – easily a meal for two and probably the calories for a large family with a golden retriever. Happy birthday, to me.
While The Destroyer may have not made the best first impression of fries covered in gravy and cheese curds, Smoke’s Poutinerie on Queen Bathurst certainly made up for the overwhelming monstrosity from the previous evening. I’m not sure how the Canadians came up with it, but I am convinced that it is in fact, the best bar food. It’s delicious, soaks up alcohol surprisingly well, and practically every place that takes money serves it. The other trademark Canadian thing was the Caesar, a fiery Tabasco infused Bloody Mary, it didn’t help my daily hangovers, but it was a good drink to start the mornings with.
There’s this saying that if you choose a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life. If any of that is true, then I enjoyed not working during my visit to Evymama, a nursing – maternity store that uses MerchantOS to its full potential. I made a special trip out to their shop to say howdy and see if there was anything I could help with. Of course the day I show up, nothing is wrong except for the mystery of the ghost customer. A customer that no longer frequents their shop would constantly appear in the register. This mystery was cracked by my nerd super powers, which involved updating their bad link to MerchantOS from https://east1.merchantos.com/register.php?form_name=select_customer&customer_id=22 to https://shop.merchantos.com. Matt managed to snag this stock-quality good photo of my heroic deeds. With the phantom customer slain for eternity, shop owner Sarah rewarded us with local knowledge and guidance on our next quest to find authentic Greek food. Little did we know what perils were ahead of us on our journey down Danforth Ave.
Danforth Avenue is home to one of Toronto’s most vibrant, blue and white pride neighborhoods, known as Greektown. We found Avli, a lovely Greek restaurant managed by a passionate football fan. The prix-fixe lunch consisted of a beautiful collection of dolmades, a hearty moussaka, and a dessert I still don’t know how to pronounce, Galaktobouriko. Pairing this with an Alfa and Mythos, both wonderfully hoppy Greek beers was what we needed to prepare for the engagement ahead of us. Unbeknownst to me and my comrade, the Eurocup Finals were going on that week. The Greek vs. Poland game was winding down as we paid our tab, so as we left the restaurant we were greeted by a mob of proud Greek football fanatics spilling out into the street. As we made our descent into the madness a voice static and loud let out “IMAGINE IF WE HAD WON!” followed cheers and forest of hands sprouting to the sky. These folks were just happy to have tied with Poland. That neutered momentum was still a joy to behold and this kind of exuberance for the Eurocup was not exclusive to Greektown.
Toronto is reputed to be one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the world. With more than 80 ethnic communities represented, it is a real treat to go into those vibrant neighborhoods. The hostel I stayed in was between Little Italy and Kensington Market (a fantastic place reminiscent of Portland, OR). During what brief time I had to myself, I made my own adventures to Koreatown, walked in amazement on Spadina through an enormous Chinatown, and got lost in Little Portugal.
The neighborhoods I visited flowed with unusually polite and beautiful people. Some hopped up on Tim Horton’s, other faces glistening red with tears of joy or sadness from the rush of the Eurocup, and just a handful of sleepy faces loosely smiling as they recover from the night before. After just six days of falling asleep to sounds of street car bells, chirping like birds at 5 am, Toronto became a place I feel like I can come home to.
Working with designers is hard, especially now that projects are regularly outsourced to contractors. Collaborating on visual projects via Skype/email leaves a ton of room for interpretation, which often leads to misinterpretation and wasted energy.
Brad Heller and Clifton B are the founders of Revisu.
“Revisu is a communication tool that makes it easy for designers to share their work, collect feedback, and track revision history.”
But this elegant solution didn’t come from a stroke of genius, it was forged from necessity. Brad and Clifton were originally working on a version control system for Dropbox. It was a solid idea that got them into the Portland Incubator Experiment, a highly competitive startup incubator in Portland. Just weeks before the program started, Dropbox released an update that negated Brad and Clifton’s entire project. They needed to find a new use for the technology they were developing, otherwise they were dead in the water. Says Brad, ”We quickly identified that there’s a lot of pain involved in communication between design teams and developers. From there, we pivoted our business to address that problem.”
The Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE) helped them launch their new idea by providing a collaborative work space, mentorship, workshops, and an opportunity to pitch investors. Their beta product is already being used by industry giants like Wieden+Kennedy, the largest privately owned advertising agency in the world, and Revisu is positioned to take over a very profitable market.
What contributed to Brad and Clifton’s success? It seems like a combination of technical brilliance, flexibility, access to a startup incubator, and proximity to a city that has hundreds of creative design agencies. Their ability to adapt their ideas and technology for a new purpose is typical of the most successful startups from the last few decades.
When asked what advice they’d give to startup wannabes, Brad dodged the stereotypical answers, and insisted that the most important thing you can do as a budding entrepreneur is to interact with other entrepreneurs – that’s the only way you’re going to learn and get ahead.
“The community is your biggest resource.”
Amen. Do you have an exciting startup idea bouncing around your cranium? If so, you should look at startup incubators like Portland Incubator Experiment, Y Combinator, and TechStars. These programs give entrepreneurs the tools and resources they need to succeed. Have questions or need advice? You can find Revisu’s co-founder on Twitter: @BradHe.
Here’s an interview transcript for the hardcore readers:
What is Revisu?
Brad: We’re a communication tool that makes it easy for designers to share their work, collect feedback, and track revision history as that project goes on.
We have some really, really interesting things coming up in the next few months, but we can’t really talk about them yet. We do have a couple of interesting integrations planned though. One of the integrations we recently did was with Basecamp because most of our creative teams use Basecamp internally – so plugging into that was really natural. Our goal is to figure out how to address and improve team workflow, so a lot of the features and things that you’ll see coming out of us in the next six months are going to be around helping teams work.
Was Revisu a fully formed idea from the beginning or did it grow organically?
B: The technology we originally applied to PIE with was just a version control system for Dropbox files. This was just a few weeks before the revisions API got released by Dropbox, which totally negated the need for our product. But I’m a technologist so I built this technology and then I said “Well, who could use this technology?” and I thought “The design field is always using Dropbox to store their files and move things back and forth.” Then we quickly identified that there’s a lot of pain around communication between design teams and developers. From there, we pivoted our business to addressing that problem and it’s just kind of grown that way.
Anyone famous using your product right now?
B: Wieden+Kennedy, Tangible Worldwide, and Grady Britton all fell in love with the idea and validated the fact that this vision makes sense to the agency world. So now it’s a process of just refining the vision in terms of this product.
Revisu was a Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE) startup. Can you tell us more about incubators?
B: Every incubator is different. TechStars is different from YCombinator, which is different than PIE. They all are different in the philosophy that they take and how they approach – I mean, the core of an incubator is to take an idea from one stage to the next, so for TechStars it’s more about taking an idea that’s already in the market place and moving it to the next level. Whereas YCombinator is known for just getting a team together and then making a product from there. So PIE falls more into the YCombinator bucket. It’s more about taking an idea and turning it into a product. It’s heavily team oriented, but it’s also product oriented. When I say that, I mean they focus more on creating a great product and less on “How do I raise a million dollars.” There’s nothing wrong with having an incubator that’s focused on that, it’s just a different philosophy.
In terms of our experience with PIE, when we first thought about applying to PIE we working on what would eventually be the prototype of Revisu as a side project and we thought “This is awesome, we should apply to the PIE Project and see if we can turn this into an actual business.” So we applied and got accepted. It was a whirlwind for the first four weeks or so. Going through the initial meetings with the core mentors of PIE, polishing our vision, and coming up with a go to market strategy. The first four weeks were a total blur.
When it comes to actual programming, PIE is pretty loose. At its peak they would have like two to three people come in to talk about running and launching a software startup. For instance, James Keller from Small Society (recently acquired by Wal-Mart) came to talk about usability, and Alan Wizemann came in to talk about product pricing, and there were some people who came and talked about financing – all of these different areas. But it kind of had this bell curve to it. In the middle we had the most people coming in and towards the end of the program most people had a product on the market place, so the last quarter of the PIE experience was about getting ready for Demo Day and really nailing your pitch.
Are there benefits to being in the same space as other entrepreneurs?
B: Yes! Oftentimes, when we talk about incubators, this issue of co-location comes up. Some programs don’t co-locate their startups, but having the startups in a room together every day is a critical component of the incubator experience because you get way more out of the interaction between these people than you do in your mentor meetings. PIE did a really good job of selecting the startups that came in. I think we had some startups that were ahead of us, and I think there were even some startups that were behind us. So for the latecomers, we were able to say “As you’re growing your business, this is going to come up and this is what you should probably do.” And for the startups that were ahead of us, we’d be able to say “Oh crap, our accountant is really screwing up and what should we do?” and they’d be able to help us through that sort of thing. So I think the interaction between startups is really critical.
You’ve been living in Portland since starting Revisu, but were you from there originally?
B: I guess you could say that. I had lived here since before the program started. I had also worked for a couple of other Portland startups – About.Us, WebMD, and JivSoftware.
Is Portland a good location for startups?
B: We normally tout the capital efficiency we have here. Rent is cheap, you don’t have to pay developers as much as you would in the Bay Area, and there’s a good amount of talent because we have OSU, PSU, University of Oregon, and people from Seattle who come down. So Portland is good in that regard. We talk a lot about how Portland can be the next Seattle, or the next Silicon Valley, but that conversation happens in every city across the United States.
I think what’s really important is this notion of playing to your region’s strengths. Like in Portland, startups should conform to the lifestyle of people who live in Portland. The 80 hour work week that they do in Silicon Valley doesn’t necessarily fly up here. Also, in terms of markets, we should address regional strengths. Like with Revisu, the design community in this area is massive. There’s like 120 design agencies in Portland – which is crazy huge density. So it makes sense to do something creative in Portland. Or things that are based around food and hospitality makes sense for the Portland scene.
That’s a really roundabout way of answering your question. I kind of got sidetracked, but Portland is a great place for startups.
Do you have any advice for people who want to launch an innovative idea?
B: The most important thing you can do as a budding entrepreneur is to interact with other entrepreneurs. I think that’s the only way you’re going to learn and get ahead. The community is your biggest resource. Almost every single city has some kind of startup community these days, so participating in that community is really important if you’re a budding entrepreneur. The Startup Weekend system is an awesome thing. Even established entrepreneurs should be attending Startup Weekends.
I think getting engaged in the community and connecting with the right people is the most important thing.
That wraps up this week’s interview! You should take a look at Brad’s product and send him your feedback via Twitter: @BradHe. Next week we’ll be interviewing an expert from the retail industry, so check back on Wednesday for exciting retail strategies and ideas!
This week brought with it a flurry of activity. We expanded our head quarters, moving the Dev team into a cool new office downstairs. Keep an ear open and an eye out for fresh new developments and updates to the software!
In the coming week, Murdoc is going to tell us all about his holiday trip to Germany, and Chris is going to give us another installment of the Workaround series, this time he’ll be covering coupon items.
- And now, as always, some cool stuff we found in the ether:
- Remember Ted Williams? No, not the baseball icon – I’m talking about the homeless man that became an internet sensation a year ago because of his smooth radio voice. Well, evidently life has taken a turn for the better.
- 343 days. 17 countries. 19 planes. 58 buses. 18 boats. 6,327 photographs. One stunning video.
- A step in the right direction – Apple outs itself over labor violations in its supply chain.
- ‘OK Go’ has an awesome music video/slash web project with the folks at Play with Chrome.
It’s the end of the year, and like many, we’re looking back on 2011, the highlights, the lowlights, the mediumlights. Our team has doubled in size this year, and with that comes many different influences, no better representation of that is the 2011 MerchantOS MixTape – here for your listening pleasure…
It’s been kind of a slow holiday week here at MerchantOS with folks in and out on their holiday vacations. In the office it’s been steady, but not too busy. As I mentioned in earlier posts, we’ve been growing a lot, doubling the size of our team just this year. Our growth is starting to stress the capacity of our current offices, and as of the 1st, our Development team will be moving to an office on the floor below us.
On the blog front, there were a couple of cool posts this week. Like a lot of people, we took the opportunity provided by the refreshing of the calendar to take stock and lay out some goals for the coming year in our awesome New Year’s Resolutions post.
Another cool blog post was ‘Doing What We Can’, which detailed our, until now, secret corporate giving program. See, turns out that we’ve been giving away our software and customer support to a bunch of non-profits over the years. So I put together a little showcase of all those great organizations.
Check out those great blog posts, and stay tuned for more! We’ve got some exciting plans for awesome content in the New Year, and we’d love to hear input from you. If you’re a customer, what do you want to hear about? What’s helpful? Drop us a line!
The end of the year is always fun on the interwebs because it brings a ton of fun ‘Best of’ and ‘Top 10′ content from everywhere. We love this stuff, and I pulled together some of the coolest content I could find for our final Weekly Rewind Link Roundup of 2011. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!
- Every year, DJ Earworm’s ‘United State of Pop’ a mashup of the year’s best pop songs is one of the things I look forward to the most.
- TechCrunch reported 6.8 million iOS and Android devices activated on Xmas day.
- Steve Jobs, Arab Spring, SOPA… ReadWriteWeb lays out The 10 Biggest Web News Stories of 2011
- Arstechnica feeds the inner nerd with a great layout of all the biggest science stories of the year, and why we’ll still be talking about them next year.
- Not everybody is just looking back, Mashable offers us 5 Tech Trends to Watch in 2012.
- One of my personal favorite sites, the 99%, culled together their best content of the year in their ‘Best of 2011: Our Most Popular Tips, Interviews & Think Pieces’ – which is sure to steal at least three or four hours of my life this weekend!
- If you’re anything like me, you dread the mess that the holidays can bring. Being such a busy time, I often don’t have time to take care of regular stuff, much less all the extra that can manifest. Lifehacker offers some life-saving tips on How to Dig Yourself Out from Your Leftover Holiday Clutter
- Every year at about this time, the New York Times’ David Pogue honors the best tech ideas and innovations of the year. Lots of great stuff this year, as usual. I present you with: The Seventh Annual Pogie Awards
Happy New Year!
Have a safe and fun weekend!
In a recent post – The End of the Wallet As We Know It – I described the current landscape in the ever changing world of mobile payment processing, laying out some of the history and giving a snapshot of where we were, at least as of that day. Well, in the tech world things rapidly change, and just a week later there’s been what could be a major development.
The big four of the credit industry (Visa/Mastercard/Discover/American Express) and the big three of the mobile telecom industry (AT&T/Verizon/T-Mobile) have announced that they are joining forces with Isis a Mobile Commerce Platform originally created as a joint venture between the telecom giants.
This of course, is a big deal, and it’s sure to cause a stir at Google and PayPal. In an email to Google, I asked for their response to this news. Nate Tyler, from Google’s Global Communications and Public Affairs department, responded by saying that, “Mastercard is still a valuable partner to Google Wallet. The variety of players in this market speaks to the promise of mobile wallets.”
I also asked Nate whether Google Wallet will run on the Isis platform, or if Google will be creating a proprietary network of their own, to which he replied, “Google Wallet is an open commerce ecosystem — meaning we’re open to and can work with any of the carriers, banks and so on. But, we don’t have anything to announce today.”
So, Google seems to be playing it cool as I expected. I can only imagine that this announcement is a motivator for the folks at Google and Paypal to kick it into gear and get their versions of the mobile payment future out in the marketplace.
(PayPal had not yet responded to our inquiries as of press time.)
There are sure to be more exciting developments down the road. Stay tuned!
…Why You Should Feel Fine.
Sides are being drawn.
The bigwigs of the payment industry and the tech industry are gearing up to launch into the mobile payment system field, and all signs point to the possibility of a future without the need for credit cards or cash.
So what are the options, and who is going to come out on top? I’ll try to make some sense of it all for you.
Google seems to be jumping out of the gate early with Google Wallet, their partnership with Mastercard and the credit giant’s PayPass technology. Additionally they’re working with point of sale companies and retail brands on what they’re calling the SingleTap shopping experience, where with a “single tap” of your Google Wallet you can pay with a credit or gift card, redeem promotions, and earn loyalty points. They have a long list of partners, including big names in retail like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Foot Locker; and dining like Noah’s Bagels, Subway, and Jamba Juice.
The glaring downside for Google is the limited scope of their product so far. Mastercard is a huge partner for sure, but actually, only people with Citibank Mastercards will be able to use Google Wallet. Additionally, it is only available on the “Gingerbread” smartphone, which is only available from Sprint, the nation’s third largest carrier. So, in order to use Google Wallet you have to own one particular phone, available on only one network (which is the smallest of the big three), and you have to have a Mastercard issued by Citibank. While it’ll undoubtedly grow over time, early adopters are going to be the ones who drive this technology, and a smart company will have as many doors open to their new services as possible. The limited access Google is offering could be a huge liability.
Another potential game changer is ISIS – the joint venture (AT&T/T-Mobile/Verizon) mobile commerce network. Three huge carriers with multiple phone options could have been a real threat to Google Wallet. However, they’ve recently scaled back from their initial goal of creating an original NFC payment system, to serving as a “mobile wallet” for existing credit card companies. The potential positive with that decision is that the option for consumers to use their phone to make purchases while still using their existing credit accounts could be the bridge needed to warm the market to the idea of making mobile payments at all, especially among consumers who have security concerns.
PayPal has a huge footprint in this market and a ton of skin in the game. They’ve already provided payment services for over ten years, have over 100 million active accounts, and are expected to facilitate more than $3 billion in mobile transactions this year alone. They are ambitious, boldly predicting that people will be able to live solely off of mobile payments in just three years time. Paypal MUST be doing something right, as Google is snatching up their former executives to work on Wallet.
Oh, and of course VISA and American Express are each developing their own mobile payment systems, but not being tech companies, I don’t think we should expect much from them. They’ll be looking to recarve their niche in other ways.
I also have to mention that I don’t think there’s a ton of demand for this technology, at least not right now. How often have you heard someone (an average consumer – NOT a technophile) express interest in this kind of service? Probably not much, if at all. As I mentioned above, security is a big concern among tech-wary consumers as well.
Really though, only time will tell. After all, millions of people didn’t know they wanted an iPhone until it was released either. If you’re a retailer, just make sure you seek input from your customers before making a big investment on any new technologies in your stores.
No matter what happens, you win!
When it comes down to it, all of this jockeying for position and maneuvering to gain a foothold in this new market will only create more competition, better options, and enhanced technology. We could see Big Credit shaken to it’s core by a brand new payment system standard. We could see lower rates and fees across the board for both retailers and shoppers as traditional credit card companies are forced to actually compete for once in a wide open market against dynamic tech companies and their fresh ideas. It’ll be fun to watch it all play out, and ultimately, when all the dust from The Great Payment System Platform War of the 21st Century finally settles, the real winners will be you and I.
This past Memorial Day weekend I was out at a four day music festival called Sasquatch. I was a bit leery about spending four days camping out with tens of thousands of people. It wasn’t long until the performers won me over and by the end of the festival on Monday night I only wanted more. Here is my official Sasquatch survival tips and trip report.
At first I spent a lot of time in anguish over which shows to go to. I spent nights listening to artists and filling in a little calendar. Definitely try to listen to as much as you can before the show. But just cause the album is killer don’t expect the show to rock. Many artists I love sucked on stage. Many artists I’ve never heard of or
I expected to not be good on stage, were incredibly good performers. The beauty of Sasquatch is they have four stages going. If you’re not stoked about the show, move to a different stage.
You’ll get a show schedule when you walk in. Carry a pen and make notes on the schedule about the shows you like so you can grab their albums later. I saw as many as fourteen different artists perform in a day. It’s very easy to mix them up and find yourself at home unable to find the albums of your new favorite bands.
This is an outdoor show. You need a full car camping setup with plenty of good food, clothing for very warm weather, and a pack with clothing for very cool and possibly wet weather. Also stuff a water bottle in with sunscreen. Temperatures changed drastically from day to night and the sun was very powerful. All to often I saw sunburned people in their shorts and tank tops shivering in a fetal position at night. I don’t think I personally would have had as good a time like that.
Get Up Close To The Stage
The sound stinks if you aren’t at least as close as the sound engineering tent. There’s a reason everyone is shoving their way in close and you need to do the same. You’ll also be emotionally boosted with the crowd and the band closer in.
Who Rocked it?
These were the best shows at Sasquatch:
Sharon Van Etting: A very chilled out sound. Easy guitar sounds with female vocals.
Local Natives: I love the vocals of these guys. The blend of voices along with a steady but relaxed beat is enchanting.
Washed Out: Stronger electronic sounds from keyboards and good vocals.
Mad Rad: Not a particular fan of the lyrics from this hip hopish sounding band but big time stage presence and willing to mix it up with the crowd and climb the scaffolding.
Stornoway: These guys belong at every outdoor music festival. Their folksy sounding music and lyrics fit perfectly.
Foster The People: This might have been the best show I saw. Has the makings of a pop rock band but definitely unique style and incredible performance on stage.
Rodrigo Y Gabriela: Just the two of them and their guitars. No supporting instruments and no vocals. You would be hard pressed to find any other pair that could as thoroughly entertain with so little.
The Decemberists: I’ve heard some of their music before and always found it kinda meh. Their show started out as I expected but each song was better than the last. They wrapped it up with The Mariner’s Revenge song which had the whole place going absolutely mad. Incredible show.
It’s taken me a week to adjust to a 16 hour time difference and get rid of that cough I picked up from that Chinese yellow dust. I’m back and ready to share my travelogue.
In November of 2008, my friend Carl left for Korea to teach English on a 1-year contract. Almost 3 years later he is still there. After spending two weeks with him there, I can see why he’s decided to stay in the land of the morning calm for so long.
I flew out on Thursday morning, got to my hotel in Unseo Friday night. Saturday morning I apparently asked for hell by waking Carl up too early to do tourist things. I could write an entire blog post on my first day there. The highlights were Namsan Tower, lethal amounts of Red Ginseng energy drinks, Gyeongbeokgong (an old palace in the heart of Seoul), a large Buddhist temple, Insadong Old Tea House, Cheonggyecheong, and finally Itaewon.
Itaewon, the only area in Seoul where you can recreate that famous scene in Full Metal Jacket where you ask what can you get for $10? However in this side of Seoul, the pimp of the bar will address you with a knife pointed in your face because he doesn’t like you taking pictures. Your friend will have to light a bottle of Soju and toss it into the bar so they have something else to deal with while you two grab the next cab you see and explain to the driver in a collected manner “DRIVE. NOW. FAST!” Fortunately, none of that actually happened. Itaewon is a really fun place, ask these guys.
My newly adapted routine kicked off in the mornings by grabbing a lettuce or kimchi filled Kimbap [pic]. Walking around Bupyeong for a bit and then some form of an adventure.
Sunday: Incheon. Features an amazing Chinatown. I enjoyed my first feast of Jajjangmyeon and Mapa Dubu here.
Monday: Bupyeong Market and Juan. Picked up some awesome Kimchi ingredients. This was my least favorite day on the trip. I took a train out to Juan, looking for a Takku bang (Table Tennis room). As I’m walking down a strip I began to realize I’ve gone too far. I take my printed map out and realize I’m in the right area, but I just don’t see the store. So I keep going back and forth to the ends of the block asking for directions on each side; each convenience store on the end tells me it’s in the other direction. As I approach the “screw it, not worth it” mentality, I finally catch a glowing sign from above. What I had secretly hoped would be the rapture was actually a glowing sign on the fourth floor with ping-pong paddles on it.
Tuesday: Yongsang. Went to the E-Sports Arena and saw my first live StarCraft match. It was televised. The teams CJ Entus and T1 are sponsored teams. People were lined out the door to see this match. Yes, the Koreans take StarCraft this seriously. I thought it would have burned out by now considering the game has been out for 13 years now.
Wednesday: Insadong. Artistic area in downtown Seoul. My first time eating Buddhist temple food. Later on I hiked a small mountain called Gyesan. Lost my glasses.
Thursday: DMZ. I took the tour that included the Third Invasion Tunnel. This trip will enlighten you on how hellbent the DPRK is on reunification through good ol’ fashioned violence.
Here are some facts you didn’t know about the DMZ:
- There is an amusement park with rides.
- All the food grown in that area is organic.
- You can buy delicious North Korean beer there.
Friday: Hongdae. I had only heard there was no such thing as last call in Korea. That all changed this night. Found a cool place that serves drinks in a standable plastic bag, I saw it as an adult Capri Sun. Got the first train home at 5AM.
Korea offers plenty of resources for crafting an otherwise civilized night into a bender. Soju ??, Chung Ha ??, Makgeolli ??? are all delicious forms of Korean firewater. There are Norae bangs (private karaoke bars), PC-bang (where you can go and demolish your friend Carl in StarCraft), DVD bangs (private home theaters, mostly a hook-up spot for young couples). There are more bangs (“rooms”, if you haven’t caught on to that by now) than you can shake a chopstick at. Not just in variety, but in vast numbers.
I couldn’t help but think about how well MerchantOS would do in Korea. I remember traveling to Gyesang, about 2 hours outside of Seoul, to a small convenience store on the base of a mountain. I bought some water and was rung up with the same advanced Point of Sale system I saw inside of the Yongsan Electronics Market. I can envision that alternate reality where Justin and Ivan are knocking back Soju, feasting on steaming hot Dukgalbi and throwing office Karaoke parties.