Piecing back shredded documents as a play

Something to be shredded - Celine's drawing

Paper shredders have been used to get rid of sensitive documents for quite some time, but simple ones are barely better than ripping papers by hand. This was clearly proven a couple of months ago when the Korean cable TV channel JTBC's news team was able to recover crucial evidence relating to the ongoing Park Geun-hye - Choi Soon-sil Scandal that's rocking the nation from bags of shredded documents (news in Korean).

Celine shreds her work by herself with the shredder

Since I have a hand-operated paper shredder at home, I decided to have a bit of fun by re-enacting this process with my daughter Celine. We call it the "JTBC play". After Celine created a "document" to shred, she put it into the paper shredder. I think she likes the feel of the paper being cut up by turning the handle.
Continue reading "Piecing back shredded documents as a play"

On water resistance of (smart) watches

Testing water resistance of Oband T2 smartwatch

With the Apple Watch going on sale next month, interest in smart watches should spark in 2015. Being wearable, water resistance of these sort of devices is one of the aspects that's getting attention. Usually, the IP (International Protection) rating, an IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) 60529 standard, is used because they're electronic devices. This rating certifies resistance to solids and liquids.

Lots of good quality smart watches and water resistant smartphones are rated as IP67, including Samsung's Gear 2 and Gear Fit. Apple Watch has an IPX7 rating, which has the same water resistance rating, but without dust resistance certification. The last digit, 7, indicates that the device can withstand submerging at a depth of 1 meter for at least 30 minutes.

Information on IEC 60529 Standard: [1], [2]

Meanwhile, traditional watches often sport "water resistant to X meters" or similar indication instead. The problem is that the IP rating seem very underwhelming in comparison on the surface. Casual water resistant watches often have a 30-meter mark, which seems to be much better than the 1-meter rating for IPX7.

But if you delve in deeper, you'll find that the 30-meter mark is only good for splashes and short immersion in water. The watch cannot be expected to withstand dives to a few meters, let alone 30. This is because the mark merely indicates momentary resistance to static pressure of 3 ATM, which is what water exerts at a depth of 30 meters.

[Information on water resistance ratings for watches]

10-meter (1 ATM) water resistance is only good for accidental splashes, which seems analogous to an IPX4 rating at best. A 30-meter (3 ATM) mark is good for general splashes and short immersion. An old standard quoted in a FAQ of a watch company says that the 3 ATM watches "must be able to survive 30 minutes under water at a depth of 1m (3 feet) followed by 90 seconds under a pressure corresponding to 30 meters." So a 30-meter water resistance is more or less like an IPX7 rating. If you're to go swimming, a minimum of 100-meter mark or a IPX6+IPX8 rating seem necessary.

So the current crop of smart watches have a useful water resistance not unlike many casual watches, and shouldn't been seen as too inadequate. Still, as the competition heats up, we might eventually have proper swim-proof versions. I see so much potential there.
Defined tags for this entry: , , ,

Apple Korea's iPhone 6 price is ridiculous

Apple Korea's prices for unlocked iPhone 6 Plus

Today, just one week before official Korean launch, Apple Korea has begun accepting orders for unlocked iPhone 6 series. The price (including VAT, in KRW) goes like this:

iPhone 6: 16GB 850,000 / 64GB 980,000 / 128GB 1,110,000
iPhone 6 Plus: 16GB 980,000 / 64GB 1,110,000 / 128GB 1,240,000

The nominal exchange rate is about KRW 1060 / US$ as of this writing, so the 6 Plus 128GB is about $1170 after taxes (or $1060 before). That's quite more expensive than the USA, where it's $949 before taxes. It turns out that Apple Korea is applying an exchange rate of KRW 1190 / US$, or KRW 130 (12.3%) more every dollar.

$649 x 1190 x 1.1 ~= KRW 849,500 (actual: 850,000)
$949 x 1190 x 1.1 ~= KRW 1,242,000 (actual: 1,240,000)

The baseline price that the mobile carriers have decided upon for selling the devices by themselves is only slightly cheaper by about KRW 30,000 50,000 to 60,000 (updated, see below). Yes, in Korea, even if you're entering a 2-year contract, the most expensive iPhone 6 Plus is more than twice as expensive as the US$499 that the people in the US is supposed to pay. Cheapest iPhone 6 should be about four times as expensive.

Apple Japan's prices for unlocked iPhone 6 Plus

To see how ridiculous this is, let's look at the next-door country, Japan. Apple Japan's prices (excluding tax, in JPY) are:

iPhone 6: 16GB 67,800 / 64GB 79,800 / 128GB 89,800
iPhone 6 Plus: 16GB 79,800 / 64GB 89,800 / 128GB 99,800

The applied exchange rate is about JPY 105 / US$, even though the nominal rate is higher at JPY 108 / US$. This means that Apple Japan is actually selling the iPhone 6 cheaper than compared to Apple USA.

$649 x 105 ~= JPY 68,100 (actual: 67,800)
$949 x 105 ~= JPY 99,600 (actual: 99,800)

To put this in context, let's say a Korean tourist decides to buy an iPhone 6 Plus 128GB or an iPhone 6 16GB in Japan and bring it back home. The person buying it in cash or credit card will have an exchange rate of KRW 9.98 / JPY as of this writing. Therefore:

JPY 99,800 x 9.98 ~= KRW 996,000
JPY 67,800 x 9.98 ~= KRW 676,000

That is considerably cheaper. Plus, the 8% sales tax is waived because of the tourist status, so the person doesn't pay more at the store. Once the person returns to Korea, the customs will impose the 10% VAT on the device for values exceeding US$600.

((99,800 / 108) - US$600) x 0.1 = US$32.40 = KRW 35,000
((67,800 / 108) - US$600) x 0.1 = US$2.78 = KRW 3,000

So how much cheaper would it be in the end?

iPhone 6 Plus 128GB: 1,240,000 - 996,000 - 35,000 = KRW 209,000
iPhone 6 16GB: 850,000 - 676,000 - 3,000 = KRW 171,000

Given that low-cost airline fares for a round trip between Korea and Japan costs around KRW 200,000 or less, the person buying an iPhone 6 (Plus) in Japan will essentially be getting a free trip to Japan for the cost of buying one in Korea. The only major issue with this is that the device will not be eligible for official repairs or refurbishments within Korea.

So if you're a Korean who likes traveling and wants to buy an iPhone, and don't mind going to 3rd party repair shops, then reserve a phone at an Apple Store in Japan and book your flight to pick it up. All this thanks to the outrageous price-gouging by Apple Korea.

Update (16:30): I've taken a look at the prices for LGU+ (3rd largest mobile carrier in Korea) and this is how it goes:

iPhone 6: 16GB 799,000 / 64GB 920,000 / 128GB 1,041,000
iPhone 6 Plus: 16GB 920,000 / 64GB 1,041,000 / 128GB 1,162,000

It's slightly cheaper than what the iPhones traditionally cost from mobile carriers in Korea. It might be because this is the first time LGU+ is able to sell iPhones and it wanted a bit of price advantage.

Update (2014-10-31 10:20): There have been some adjustments and the three carriers have finalized the prices as follows:

iPhone 6: 16GB 789,800 / 64GB 924,000 / 128GB 1,056,000
iPhone 6 Plus: 16GB 924,000 / 64GB 1,056,000 / 128GB 1,188,000

It seems the carriers are trying to boost the total iPhone 6 sales overall by making the cheapest look cheaper. But the other models have increased in price to be just about KRW 50,000 less expensive than the Apple Store price across the board. But since the carriers will charge interest for the monthly installments during the contract period of two years, the total cost should be about the same in the end.
Defined tags for this entry: , , , , , , , , ,

New EMS now online at KPX Naju HQ

Posing in front of the commemorative plaque for the New EMS

The New EMS (Energy Management System), based on the Korean EMS Development Project (developed in 2005 - 2010), became online as the main unit at KPX's new Naju headquarters as of 3PM, October 6, 2014. This marks the first time that the entire Korean power grid was controlled by a system entirely based on the Korean technologies.

I've participated in the Korean EMS project and the succeeding New Power IT project that included the New EMS from 2006 to 2013. So this event is momentous both on national and personal levels. My name is listed as one of the developers on the commemorative plaque.

KPX executives and external dignitaries pose for the celebratory photo

Defined tags for this entry: , , , , , ,

On iPhone's carrier lock, int'l warranty, etc.

Some interesting claims have been raised about various things related to iPhones on a local forum, so I'd like to lay out what I know of this subject.

On the eve of the official sale of iPhone 6, there was a claim that the differentiating factor of the two different models (iPhone 6+: A1522 & A1524, iPhone 6: A1549 & A1586) lied in whether it was unlocked in the first place or not. The A1586 and A1524 models were supposedly the unlocked ones, as it basically covers all LTE bands around the world, and thus being a "world phone" of sorts.

The truth is, iPhones being locked to a carrier or not never really depended on a specific model number. Let's see the A1584 / A1524 first. They're going to be sold by the three telecom companies in Japan.

[iPhone LTE Information]

The Japanese carriers are known to apply carrier locks to the models sold on contracts, while the Japanese Apple Stores also carry the unlocked ("SIM-Free") versions as well. So, those models would have both carrier locked and unlocked versions.

Now let's take a look at the A1549 / A1522.

Verizon and T-Mobile in the United States have the phones unlocked, in terms of GSM/WCDMA. For AT&T, if you're buying at a discounted price on contract, carrier lock will apply. In Canada, the Apple Stores have the unlocked versions.

So the iPhones may be locked or not regardless of the model number. Model numbers are tied to what carriers they will be sold from.

As for Korea, I predict that the A1586 / A1524 will be the ones to be released, if iPhone 5S is any indication. For the 5 and 5S models, the ones released in Hong Kong subsequently saw light in Korea. A1586 / A1524 are to be released in Hong Kong in the cases of iPhone 6/6+.

The models released in Korea have been unlocked since iPhone 4S regardless of whether it was sold by a carrier or not, so iPhone 6/6+ will be no different.

As for the Korean wireless certification issues in terms of import regulations, some considerations are needed. The certification is done by the model number, so once the process completes (Apple Korea applied for the certification on September 11), the iPhone 6/6+ models sold in places like Japan or Hong Kong should technically be certified as well.

But since the KCC certification logo may be missing on the back, you may have to provide the proof of the certification and the model number on the phone should import process stall. There's an exemption for personal import of one uncertified device per person, but this is indeed for the uncertified ones, so it couldn't be used against importing a certified one. But if this doesn't solve the issue, it's not clear how to go about it since there aren't many reports relating to this.

For service & repair, iOS devices come with local warranties by default. This is pointed out on the warranty itself.

[Apple iOS Hardware Warranty]

"Apple may restrict warranty service for iPhone and iPad to the country where Apple or its Authorized Distributors originally sold the device."

This appears on the other countries' versions as well. In fact, even the Hong Kong versions of iPhones, which bear the same model numbers as the Korean counterparts, have often been reported to have the repairs turned down in Korea.

There is a mention on the information on the unlocked version that, if you want to use it overseas you should get that version. But this is because you can use the local SIM card while traveling. Carrier-locked version prevents that. The Japanese version of the information was less than clear on that, but the Canadian version was better worded.

About the Unlocked iPhone (Japan)

"่ค‡ๆ•ฐๅนดใฎใ‚ตใƒผใƒ“ใ‚นๅฅ‘็ด„ใ‚’็ตใณใŸใใชใ„ๅ ดๅˆใ‚„ใ€ๆตทๅค–ใงๅœฐๅ…ƒใฎ้€šไฟกไบ‹ๆฅญ่€…ใ‚’ไฝฟใ„ใŸใ„ๅ ดๅˆใฏใ€SIMใƒ•ใƒชใƒผใฎiPhoneใ‚’้ธใถใ“ใจใ‚’ใŠใ™ใ™ใ‚ใ—ใพใ™ใ€‚"
"If you don't want a multiyear service contract, or if you want to use a local carrier overseas, the SIM-Free iPhone is recommended."

About the Unlocked iPhone (Canada)

"If you donโ€™t want a multiyear service contract, or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice."

In other words, Apple never said "if you bought the phone from overseas and bring it home, you can ask for a repair locally" on that page. If you could get one repaired, then you were lucky, not because the policy allowed it to happen.

Copyright (C) 1996-2016 Wesley Woo-Duk Hwang-Chung. All rights reserved.