The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Category: IT Korea (page 2 of 17)

Food for thought: Just replace the product and apologize for any inconvenience

On Dec. 2 Canadian Richard Wygand posted a YouTube video alleging that his Galaxy S4 was dangerously defective.  In the video Wygand says, “I just plugged it in to charge it. Went to sleep, woke up to smoke and a little bit of burning.”

Samsung didn’t take too kindly to the allegations and demanded Wygand pull the video down. They should’ve figured he would post another video about the company’s demands.

(Wygand) said that in order to receive a “similar model” replacement phone, Samsung allegedly asked that he first sign a legal document that would require him to remove his videos from YouTube, remain silent about the agreement and surrender any possible future claims against the company.

Both videos have gone viral and well, there has to be some head scratching going on somewhere. You can read the rest here and see both videos.

(H/T to Joe McP)

photo credit: via photopin cc

The Apple vs. Samsung Chronicles: The US Steps in For the Sake of Innovation

Upon the advice of Michael Froman, the United States trade representative and the president’s adviser on international trade issues, the Obama administration has vetoed a federal commission’s ban that would have forced Apple to stop selling some iPhones and iPads in the United States next week due to an infringement on a Samsung-held patent related to transmission of data over cellular networks.

This is the first time since 1987 an administration has vetoed an international Trade Commission ban.

(Mr. Froman) wrote in his decision issued on Saturday that it was based in part on the “effect on competitive conditions in the U.S. economy and the effect on U.S. consumers.” . . .  Mr. Froman said his decision did not mean that Samsung was “not entitled to a remedy. On the contrary, the patent owner may continue to pursue its rights through the courts.”

Susan Kohn Ross, an international trade lawyer for Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, said the administration’s veto announced on Saturday will effectively remove a major bargaining chip for Samsung that could have disrupted Apple’s manufacturing facilities for making iPhones and iPads.

As per the comments section on this report file on the NYTimes, one comment summarizes nicely:

Samsung copied Apple products and then tried to use patents in an illegal way to avoid the consequences: if they get away with this, they can force Apple to ignore the copying or else get products banned.

The Samsung patents at issue here are part of a wireless standard — you’re required to use their invention to connect to some networks. In order to be included in the standard, Samsung promised to license them in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. But for Apple, which used wireless chips from companies that had already paid the licensing fees, Samsung demanded enormous additional fees.

This exact issue has already been litigated in several courts around the world, and this practice has never been allowed. In fact, Samsung faces a potential fine of billions of dollars in Europe for doing this.

All of the other big technology companies support Apple in this matter, since allowing what Samsung has done would wreck the whole standards system.

A New York Times Blog article on this is here.

Buy hey, at least Pirate Bay isn’t blocked… for now

First they came for the P2P operators. Then they went after the Webhards. Now they are going after the torrents:

Police are investigating more than 50 file-sharing enthusiasts as part of a crackdown against online piracy, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Thursday.

Authorities so far have booked 12 operators of some of the country’s largest peer-to-peer file sharing websites and 41 of their biggest customers, who have each uploaded more than 1,000 ”seed’’ files to these websites in the five months through May.

They also raided the offices of 26 hosting companies, looking for servers connected to copyright infringement as they clamp down harder on the unlawful movement of movies, music and games. This is the nation’s first strike targeted at ”torrenting.’’

The Korea Herald takes a look at Korea’s long war against copyright infringement.

One of the folk who was arrested was a 15-year-old kid who opened his own Torrent site.

Seeing how the government hasn’t moved to block sites like Pirate Bay and Kickass Torrents, it seems to me they are primarily concerned—at least for now—with blocking copyright infringements of Korean content.

A KEB Hack that Did Not Happen – Supposedly

The Hacking Group Anonymous, claimed in a tweet, to have hacked the Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) and have leaked 15k users private data.  They also refered to themselves as “Korea Cyber Army”.

A representative of KEB very quickly declared that the information that Anonymous posted was not subscriber information (these are not the droids you are looking for), however the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) declared the following day that they were effecting “an all-out overhaul on network security systems at major financial companies in a bid to prevent them from being exposed to cyber attacks that may result in a serious breach of private data.” This is the same FSS that can’t seem to get all the credit cards switched to the chip and PIN system in a timely manner because the banks are dragging their feet.  (The chip and PIN system is also hacked but not as much as the magnetic swipe cards that are still in use in South Korea.)

Perhaps someone has gotten caught with their pants down and is in denial?

And then there’s Samsung…

CNN tech guy Philip Elmer-DeWitt believes he may have “touched a nerve at Samsung HQ“:

On Saturday, following Samsung Taiwan’s admission that it had paid anonymous posters to trash a competitor’s products on Taiwanese social media sites, I posted a story about the growing suspicion among Apple (AAPL) investors that Samsung was engaged in a similar campaign against Apple — and that it might be affecting the company’s share price.

The post drew more that the usual number of comments. Twenty six hours later, we’re up to 343 messages and counting. Some readers supported the thesis. Some ridiculed it. Some attacked Apple. Some attacked me.

That kind of thing comes with the territory, although not usually in such numbers or with such vehemence. But what happened at about 2 a.m. EST — Sunday afternoon in Seoul, South Korea — was new.

In the space of a few hours, more than a thousand votes were cast on the DISQUS feedback system, voting down any comment remotely anti-Samsung and voting up anything — no matter how inane, in-artful or wrong — that disparaged Apple, the thesis, or me.

Sounds more like the work of Samsung fanboys or patriotic netizens than Samsung itself, but I suppose anything is possible.

Personally, I think Seoul Village might have it right:

Samsung Trolling HTC Phone Reviews?

Samsung has reportedly been hiring student trolls to bad mouth HTC cellphones in Taiwan, on web reviews. (cite).

According to Samsung, based in South Korea, the “unfortunate incident” had gone against the company’s “fundamental principles”.

I didn’t know they actually had invested in RD for principles either.

Anonymous hack of N. Korea sites entertains conservative press

The Anonymous hack of Uriminzokkiri and North Korea’s social media sites has got conservative South Korean papers like the Chosun Ilbo giddy.

In particular, the quite like how the list of Uriminzokkiri’s 9,001 members got leaked. On it are apparently a large number of South Koreans, and South Korea’s diligent netizens have been busy trying to figure out who they are. They claim to have found members of the United Progressive Party, an official from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, a university professor, a teacher with the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union, a reporter, a former university students association president, and an airline pilot.

Police caution that people could have registered under false names, so just because they’re on the list doesn’t mean it’s actually them.

A prosecutor told the Chosun Ilbo that while they did conduct an investigation on about 70 people connected to a locally opened pro-North Korean cyber cafe in 2010, they’ve never seen a list as big as this one.

In principle, joining Uriminzokkiri in South Korea is illegal (the site is, in fact, blocked), so if you’re on the list, you can be punished. Practically speaking, however, The Man is unlikely to punish you if you can demonstrate you needed to join it for work reasons. If you can’t—and especially if you posted stuff to the site or reposted its material—you’re likely to face punishment.

Some progressive figures, meanwhile, are calling the release of the list a violation of communication and privacy laws. Which, to be frank, it most certainly is.

UPDATE: See the Anonymous statement at the end of this article.

South Korea Needs A Cyber Overhaul

Though there is talk as in the editorials of one newspaper about cybersecurity:

Cybersecurity is a totally new security concept without public and private sector divides, not to mention a critical absence of national borders. The government also must devise a detailed . . . blah, blah, blah

and the Financial Supervisory Service started a special probe the other day into banks and financial institutions to “find out what caused last week’s network paralysis”, one salient and interesting fact remains – especially on the heels of the attack on banks and various institutions in South Korea – that, as of the last quarter of 2012, South Korea led the ranking of countries most infected by malware (57.30 percent of infected PCs).

Maybe it is time for a sea-change in South Korea, regarding how badly personal computers are kept.  Attacks like the massive on-going one that has occurred recently against spamhaus could only happen because the average users of computers do not know about security though everyone has a lock on their door.  South Korea could at least teach people better safety habits and promote better software that is not so obviously compromised since it is the average user’s infected computer that becomes an unwitting tool at the hacker’s fingertips.

Malware in 3.20 Attack came from China, might be North Korea

The government revealed today that the malware used in yesterday’s cyberattack came from an IP address in China. Given that North Koreans hackers usually use the Chinese Internet, this means it’s possible that the attack was orchestrated by North Korea.

They haven’t ID’d the attack yet, though, so they are leaving all possibilities open. Experts talking to MoneyToday say the malware code is similar to ones North Korea has used in the past. It’ll likely take several months to find the culprits, though.

Oh, and it will take four to five days for the affected companies to get their systems back to normal.

BREAKING NEWS: Massive cyberattack underway in South Korea?

The servers of major broadcasters such as KBS, MBC and YTN as well as Shinhan and Nonghyup banks are reportedly down.

Cheong Wa Dae is trying to figure out what’s up, but the broadcasters have already told police they think it’s North Korea screwing with them. Police cyber terrorism personnel have been rushed to the broadcasters to investigate.

UPDATE: ZDNet Korea has got more. They think it’s a DDoS attack launched by malware believed to be North Korean in origin. The malware was discovered a year ago, but it’s really spread recently, particular through websites visited by military folk. MARMOT’S NOTE: Protect yourself from North Korean aggression. Install Linux.

UPDATE: Boy, this is bad. And LG U Plus wants you to know that contrary to some media reports, they are not the problem. And indeed, MBC uses KT servers.

And as AFC notes:

UPDATE: KCC is saying that it isn’t a DDoS attack, but a malware thing done through hacking. No comment on whether North Korea did it. And oh yeah, public institutions are fine.

UPDATE: Before we jump to conclusions:

UPDATE: Just to repeat what I said on Twitter:

UPDATE: The government is now saying the malware—spread through a Patch Management System—destroyed PCs’ Master Boot Record (MBR). The networks are actually OK, but those affected can’t boot their computers. They also say this attack happened only in Korea.

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Thread

The Galaxy S 4 has been officially announced.

TechCrunch likes it:

As if it could be any other way, the just-announced Samsung Galaxy S 4 is Samsung’s, and perhaps even Android’s, best phone yet. In fact, it very well may be the best smartphone on the market, period.

And take this, Fruitboys!

Samsung is riding high on the success of the Galaxy S III and from what I’ve seen, the Galaxy S 4 is a worthy successor with innovative features packed into a familiar housing. It’s a bit of a shame that Samsung announced the phone without giving a price or release date, but at this point, with Samsung the global sales and innovation leader in smartphones, it can do pretty much whatever it wants.

Koreans? Innovative? It can’t be!

Well, that’s a bit disconcerting

I love my Galaxy Note, but I really hope it doesn’t blow up in my pants:

Another Galaxy smartphone has exploded and injured its owner. Bupyeong Fire Station in Incheon on Sunday said a 55-year-old man reported the previous day that his smartphone battery blew up in the pocket of his pants.

The man said he was carrying a Samsung Galaxy Note along with a spare battery in his pocket before they suddenly blew up. He is being treated for second-degree burns to his right thigh.

Can Samsung be cooler than Apple?

That’s what the Korea Times wants to know:

Samsung Electronics is the global leader in mobile phones, televisions and computer memory chips.

However, what the Korean company really wants is to be admired, and by successfully injecting creative input into its smart products in recent years, it finally seems to be earning its stripes as an innovator.

The main source of inspiration in the technology industry in recent years has been Apple, the maker of the revolutionary iPhones and iPads and Samsung’s bitter industry rival.

Look, I know I come off as a Samsung fanboy sometimes, but I’m perfectly willing to concede that Apple is the gold standard of cool. I direct you once again to Milo Yiannopoulos:

Not to be rude, but when was the last time you saw a smouldering hottie merrily chatting away into an Android phone? That’s right, you never have. Because giving in to Android is just another way of advertising that you care more about PHP than people.

Hot people do not use Android. If they’re time-rich, cash-poor hipster cuties, they’ll be sporting that ubiquitous symbol of cool, the iPhone. It’s those apps, man. I don’t understand how some people make it past an artisanal card shop without Instagramming it for the boys back at the agency.
But they’re also utterly aesthetically insensitive, apparently not realising that every Android device ever made is hideously, hideously, hideously fugly. I mean, seriously: what is wrong with these handset manufacturers? It’s like their design brief was: “create a carbuncle”.

That’s what Samsung is up against. Personally, I like how the newer Samsung models look. At any rate, I don’t think they look like carbuncles. And if you’re tech-oriented and like kick-ass displays (like me), you’re going to like Samsung. But even I have to admit they’re nowhere near the user experience my iMac or iPad are. Is this because TouchWiz still leaves a lot to be desired? I don’t know.

LG pushes Apple into 3rd place in US market / Samsung finally recognized for innovation

So, I take it that iPhone 5 isn’t doing so hot:

LG Electronics has pushed Apple into third place in the North American mobile phone market.

LG rose to second place with a 13 percent share in December, overtaking Apple, which had 12 percent, according to Hong Kong market researcher Counterpoint Research.

LG was in second place in North America until the third quarter of 2011, when it ceded the position to Apple after the release of the iPhone 4S.

And to piss a bit more in Apple’s Wheaties, the Boston Consulting Group has named Samsung the world’s third most innovative company behind Apple and Google. And that’s not good for Apple—said Haydn Shaughnessy at Forbes:

Samsung is an innovator and has risen up the BCG rankings by 8 places. Behind the scenes Samsung invests heavily in its engineers’ innovation capabilities. While we’ve all been watching the court case, Samsung has gone from strength to strength. And is now neck and neck with Apple on revenues. 2013 could be the year we look to Korea for who is defining the future of tech.

I stand by what I said earlier—Seoul is the place where the future will happen.

One of the links in that piece is to a Salon story on how Samsung became the world’s biggest tech company—the part about the Note is instructive:

Consider the phablet. Back in 2011, when Samsung first unveiled the Galaxy Note—a 5.3-inch smartphone that was big enough to be a minitablet, hence the ugly portmanteau—the world’s tech pundits couldn’t stifle their giggles. Was it a phone? Was it a tablet? Was it a joke? Smartphone industry blog Boy Genius Report called the Note “the most useless phone I’ve ever used,” adding: “You will look stupid talking on it, people will laugh at you, and you’ll be unhappy if you buy it.” Gizmodo argued that the Note “isn’t just designed poorly—it’s hardly even designed for humans.” I couldn’t resist joining the chorus. With the Note, I wrote, Samsung was hoping to stoke a certain kind of envy in young men all over the world. The firm was banking on the fact that “when you whip a phone as big as the Galaxy Note out of your pants, some dudes will think you’re a god.”

But the joke’s on me and my smart-ass tech journo colleagues. Confounding our predictions, Samsung sold 10 million Notes in 2012, making it one of the most successful smartphone launches in history. Then, in the fall, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note II, an upgraded version with an even larger screen—and it promptly sold 5 million of them, and is on track to sell 20 million over the course of the year. The Note’s success has spawned a spate of copycats, with phablets becoming the hottest new smartphone category. Over at Quartz, Christopher Mims smartly argues that as ridiculous as it looks, the phablet is becoming the computing device of choice in the developing world. “If your budget is limited, why deal with two different upgrade cycles and two different devices, when you can put all of your money into a single device?” he argues. Mims believes that the Note’s success may even force Apple to build a rival phablet.

Since I switched to the Galaxy Note, I can’t even look at an iPhone without giggling. It’s just so puny, like a shriveled appendage or something.

Chosun Ilbo bitching about South Korea falling behind in the space race

You know who’s really upset about the North Korean missile launch?

The Chosun Ilbo, that’s who.

To be sure, they’re upset about the security lapse. But they’re also upset that according to “experts,” the South now lags seven to 10 years behind the North in space launch development. Which really ticks them off, because the South has 39 times the GDP or the North, 19 times the per capita income, and was ranked the world’s fifth most scientifically competitive nation by the IMD.

The problem, they say, is—wait for it, wait for it—the bilateral missile agreement Seoul has with los Estados Unidos. This agreement, says the Chosun, blocks Korea from not only building long-range missiles, but also developing rockets for space exploration. Even with the Naro project, the has inspected the Agency for Defense Development several times to make sure no missile parts have gone into it. Which, IMHO, is a dick move.

At any rate, the Chosun notes there’s no reason South Korea should be behind the North in space technology, that Japan and China have space programs, and Seoul needs to get with the program and present a new national vision and strategy for science and space development.

Marmot’s Note: I’m on record supporting South Korea’s development of not only long-range missiles, but also nice, shiny MIRV warheads to sit on top of those missiles, so sure, I’m down with rockets for “space exploration.” Whether space exploration should be a national priority is another matter. There was a time the Soviets were ahead of the United States in space technology, and look where that got them.

For what it’s worth, Park Geun-hye said during the last debate that the Korean flag would be flying on the moon by 2020. Moon Jae-in thought this was a good idea, too. Korea currently plans to put a landing vehicle on the moon by 2025. When will they put Sam Rockwell on the moon? That’s anyone’s guess.

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