It’s bitter cold.

It’s bitter cold.
November is my coldest month.
Sometimes it snows heavily in my mind.

Because, Christmas is drawing near.
(Do you understand what I’m saying?)

Meeting with Hbase Company, Powerset

While there was not much time for fun, my hosts at NHN (Paul Sung and Ed Yoon) picked me up at the airport and took me out to a meal at a traditional Korean restaurant......

I had a good time. :)

FT: South Korea Approves Samsung Probe

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's National Assembly passed a bill Friday demanding an independent investigation into allegations of bribery at the Samsung Group conglomerate.

The bill was to go to President Roh Moo-hyun for final approval. His office has said he may veto it because state prosecutors have already launched a probe into the scandal at the country's largest industrial group, which includes Samsung Electronics Co.

The single-chamber legislature, however, can override a veto if a majority of its 299 members attend a floor vote and two-thirds of them vote in favor.

A total of 155 lawmakers voted for the bill Friday, 17 cast ballots against it and 17 abstained. A total of 110 lawmakers were absent and did not vote.

The legislation calls for Roh to name an independent counsel to delve into allegations against Samsung, including that it operated slush funds to bribe influential figures such as prosecutors, judges and government officials.

Other accusations include claims Samsung manipulated evidence and witnesses in a court case over a purported deal that critics say was aimed at transferring corporate control of Samsung from the group's chairman, Lee Kun-hee, to his only son.

The lawmakers have cast doubt on whether state prosecutors could effectively carry out a probe given that some were among those accused of accepting bribes, saying in the bill that a probe by those investigators "cannot earn the people's confidence."

The allegations cited by the legislation are based on the claims of a former top Samsung legal affairs official, who this month went public to reveal the alleged wrongdoing.

Kim Yong-chul, himself a former prosecutor, said he was responsible for bribing those in the legal field and claimed that Lim Chai-jin — the nation's new top prosecutor — was among those who took payments. Lim has denied the allegation.

Two civic groups subsequently filed a criminal lawsuit against Samsung, prompting state prosecutors to open a probe.

On Thursday, Samsung, which has vociferously denied the allegations, expressed regret over the lawmakers' impending action, but said it would cooperate with an independent probe. On Friday, the business group said it stood by that comment.

The bill's passage — the seventh time a special prosecutor has been approved by the National Assembly — came after lawmakers reached a deal to combine two separate proposals into a single bill.

A coalition of liberal lawmakers, many aligned with Roh, agreed to a proposal by conservatives to also investigate their claims that Roh received Samsung money before and after the 2002 election.

The legislation does not cite Roh by name but states that those in "the highest political echelon" allegedly received illicit funds from Samsung during and after the 2002 presidential race.

"We have already said we can consider the veto rights and that is still effective," Cheon Ho-seon, Roh's spokesman, told reporters. But he added a final decision would be made after receiving the bill.

The legislation calls for Roh to appoint an independent counsel out of three candidates recommended by the Korean Bar Association. The special prosecutor, aided by 33 assistant investigators, can investigate for up to 105 days.

Huge South Korean industrial groups such as Samsung are not new to scandals. The conglomerates have regularly been accused of wielding influence as well as dubious dealings between subsidiaries to help controlling families evade taxes and transfer wealth to heirs.

Week in review: Go go Google

Google is big and getting bigger.

Google's shares traded over the $700 mark this week, marking a new first for the Internet giant. Just a little more than three weeks ago, Google shares passed the $600 mark and analysts were speculating its shares could climb as high as $700 within the next year. Apparently, it's been a quick year.

The stock was up following reports that Google is in "serious discussions" with Verizon Wireless to put its mobile "GPhone" software on Verizon phones. For months, people have been speculating about the GPhone.

Most people believe that it's not a specific phone, but is more likely an operating system or software that integrates many of Google's mobile services, such as Web search, Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps, onto phones made by existing handset makers. But more than simply integrating Google services onto handsets, the new Google mobile operating system is believed to be an open platform on which application developers would have free reign to develop a slew of new applications and services.

But, as CNET's Marguerite Reardon points out, Google-powered phones will be useless unless the company can strike deals with mobile operators to allow them on their networks. T-Mobile USA is rumored to be the first U.S. operator that will sign on with Google.

CNET readers expressed concern that Google's mobile applications would be limited to one or two handsets offered by a single carrier.

"Great! Another new phone designed to screw over American consumers by locking it down to just one cell phone provider," one reader wrote to the TalkBack forum. "Is Google really that insensitive to the market and to consumers?"

In another move that was anticipated for weeks, Google has unveiled a set of application program interfaces (APIs) that allow third-party programmers to build widgets that take advantage of personal data and profile connections on a social-networking site. But instead of limiting the project to its own social-networking property, Orkut, Google has invited other sites along for the ride--including LinkedIn, Hi5, Plaxo, Ning, and Friendster.

Google's version of this "write once, run anywhere" concept is called OpenSocial, a set of common APIs that will enable developers to create applications for social networks, blogs, and any Web sites that accept the OpenSocial code. Currently, developers have to write new programs for each site, even if the functionality will be the same on each site.

This announcement illustrates how Google is courting developers and possibly attempting to outdo Facebook in openness. Facebook opened up its platform to developers in June and the site was immediately flooded with all sorts of useful and not-so-useful apps. Google, Yahoo, and others have been heavily espousing the beauty of open platforms and making moves to that end.

Leopard on the loose
Some 30 months after Apple released Tiger, it released the Leopard operating system into the wild--a little later than originally planned due to the company's work on iPhone. And while it wasn't exactly iPhone Day, several hundred Mac fans lined up for the launch in the pouring rain outside the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

The line for Leopard appeared to be divided fairly evenly between rabid Apple fans and shoppers who'd figured they could stop by and pick it up quickly--and indeed, come launch time, the line moved fast as customers were ushered into a gauntlet of Apple Store employees (much like the iPhone launch in June) and directed straight to the cash registers when the doors opened at 6 p.m. (The scene was repeated in San Francisco, where hundreds of people lined up on Stockton Street to get their hands on the new OS.)

However, the installation process didn't always go as smoothly. Apple posted a support document over the weekend on its Web site addressing reports of interminable "blue screen" problems that caused some Mac users upgrading to Mac OS X Leopard no small degree of frustration.

Some attempts to upgrade to Leopard were stymied after the installation process was almost complete and users attempted to restart their machines. A long thread on Apple's discussion forums outlined the problems, in which their Macs would get hung up on the initial boot screen. That screen happens to be blue, inviting comparisons to the infamous Windows "blue screen of death" encountered when Windows crashes.

There are dozens of important new features in Leopard, perhaps most notably the Time Machine application that could make it easier for users to back up and restore their files. Backing up your files is generally a simple exercise with a external hard drive, but Time Machine is interesting because of the friendly way in which it lets you restore files, flying back in time (and space) to the last instance in which that file was saved.