Sep 03

Exporting Asian (and other non-ASCII) characters from Excel

I recently ran into a problem where I was trying to export an Excel (.xlsx) file to a csv (comma-separated value) file. This should be as easy as saving the file as a csv file in Excel, but when Asian characters are involved, this doesn’t work at all (apparently it exports to ASCII only).

The object of the game was to get to Unicode (UTF-8), and several options did come to mind (parsing the XML source, importing into R, etc.), but I wanted to see if there was a simpler solution. I did find a clever workaround on the Salesforce helpdesk, but this wasn’t particularly elegant (in short, this involves saving the file as “Unicode text” and then swapping out the tabs for commas in Notepad). In trying to work with this solution, my experience resulted in a few extra tips:

  • Save a duplicate of the Excel master file, and tidy the data to be used beforehand, rather than later on. Use the power of Excel while you still can! Basic things like the columns/rows to include and their order can often be easily adjusted while still in Excel.
  • If you attempt to save the file as “Unicode text” (in the file-type menu when saving), the file will be saved in the UTF-16 format (as indicated by the included BOM), meaning that most programs expecting UTF-8 files will have serious problems. This may not be a bad thing if you are okay with UTF-16, but it is critical to know this.
  • If you really badly need commas as delimiters, you can do a find-replace command as explained in the article. Otherwise, depending on what you’re doing, the exported txt file is really just a tsv (tab-separated value) file, so provided you can specify the delimiter, this may be a better option, especially if dealing with phrases or numerical figures that may include commas.
  • One quick way of producing a UTF-8 tsv or csv file is by uploading the Excel file to Google Docs and exporting it from there. Not the solution I really wanted, but it’s at least a step easier than trying to convert a UTF-16 file to UTF-8.

In summary, there was no direct, easy way of exporting Excel documents to UTF-8 csv files via Excel itself (at least on a Windows version of Excel 2010). Only mildly annoying.

Dec 10

Ep12 Brock Radunske and Hockey in Korea

Hockey is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Korean sports, but there are some people trying to give the sport a bit more popularity here, like forward Brock Radunske of Korea’s national team, who you’ll hear from in this episode.

Aug 27

Ep11 Summer in Ulleungdo

The show is back and this time it’s all about going to the easternmost county in Korea, way out in East Sea on the island known as Ulleungdo, a magical place with magnificent scenery, delicious food, and a unique history.


Jun 14

10 Smartphone apps that everyone needs in Korea

Here’s the list, which you can hear the details of in the latest podcast:

  1. Kakao Talk: The instant messaging app of choice in Korea.
  2. Banking Apps: All of the major banks and credit cards have complete services available in their apps.

    The '주변' section of Naver Maps

    The ‘주변’ section of Naver Maps

  3. Streaming Music Apps: Bugs, Melon, Naver Music, Olleh Music are the main ones.
  4. Naver Maps: It’s what I imagine Google Maps is like in San Fransisco, only better, and designed for the local culture.
  5. Wingspoon: The ultimate ‘good’ restaurant database that shows where the closest ones are to you.
  6. Korail Talk: The only thing you need to walk onto any train in the country.
  7. Cloud Apps: Want 10x the space of Dropbox? Try nDrive, U+Box, or uCloud (if you’re in Korea)
  8. Hangeul Viewer: For when someone sends you an .hwp attachment, which is… all the time.
  9. Movie Theater Apps: CGV, Megabox, Lotte Cinema, and others all let you make seat reservations.
  10. Shopping Apps: GMarket, 11st, Yes24, …the list goes on and on.

Think I left any apps out? Let me know in the comments.

Jun 12

Ep10: 10 Essential Korean Apps / 10 Unforgettable Korean Movies

It’s the tenth episode this week, and I thought I’d do something a bit different and go through 2 top-10 lists, except they’re not really top-10 lists…. more like 10 apps that everyone needs in Korea, and 10 unforgettable Korean movies. I’m not saying they’re the best, but you should check them out and tell me if you think they are.


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