Monday, November 26, 2007


Each and every country has something special about it. I've travelled a lot and can tell you that this is very true. As a tourist it can be difficult to judge, but when you move in you notice the differences. This post is about haste in two different regards, something we are lacking in South Africa.

I still remember when our McDonald's opened up in Tygervalley about 12 or so years ago. Since then a number of them have opened up and you can't get away from that honking yellow M. The problem we have though is that our fast food stores are, well, not fast! We took the concept from America and completely screwed it up. What it is that caused this I have no idea, but we just cannot seem to get it right. Even when the place is empty, they take their time. When it's busy you can easily wait 30 minutes or more.

Here in the US, however, they stick to the phrase! As much as I have come to hate McDonald's, I convinced myself to give them a try here. First of all let me say their food is just as plasticy here as they are back home. However, they are fast! In SA the cashier takes your order, you pay her and she gets your meal. Here, they have a separate person fetching the meal. This way people can order much, much faster. Some places even have a separate "queue" to pick up your meal. I put it in quotes cause it's so short it's not really a queue. I haven't timed it, but it seems like you're out of there in under three minutes. As I said earlier, McDonald's here is terrible, but Burger King for a little more serve much better burgers -- it actually tastes close to real meat.

The second thing I'd like to touch on is high-speed Internet. I've already made some people want to kill me each time I mention it, but I thought I'd mention it again. For those readers outside of South Africa, we are one one of the worst countries as Internet connectivity goes.

We're far away from America, Europe and Asia -- all the major hubs. So immediately we get crappy latencies and there's little that can be done to rectify that. By crappy I mean easily 500+ ms latencies to Europe. But it gets worse. Our telecommunications sector is a monopoly -- a single company that calls itself Telkom that is hated by 99% of the people I know that have used their "services". Just have a look here to see how bad the situation is -- in summary, about $100 for 2GB a month at 384kbps.

So you can imagine how wonderful it is for me to come over here in the US and make use of their first world services. At NVIDIA they have a 10gbps line. Compare that to our 19mbps line at UCT for five times as many people. I also got cable from Comcast at my apartment on Friday morning. Advertised at 6mbps, but I tell you that is just the guaranteed minimum as I get about 20-25 on a speed test. Compare that to SA where the advertised speed is a theoretical maximum. Also, the service is excellent. I ordered on Wednesday, Thursday was a holiday and they came on Friday morning. Compare that to SA where it can take a month for them to install it.

These are just two signs of haste in this country. There are many more I've noticed and I'm sure many others will pop up. Some of this has been brought on by the age of the Internet as a lot of what used to be done on paper is now done online.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

San Francisco

Thursday was Thanksgiving. We don't celebrate it at all in South Africa, but over here in the US some say it is celebrated more than Christmas. The day after, yesterday, was Black Friday. It's one of the biggest shopping days in the US and marks the unofficial start of the Christmas season.

So we got both days off work. It's a little awkward having just a three day week to start with and to be frank it's actually annoying too. Three days doesn't get you anywhere and already we have a four day weekend. Almost everyone that celebrates Thanksgiving had plans to go out of town and meet up with family and those that stayed didn't do anything really (there are obviously several non-Americans working at NVIDIA). And since everything, absolutely everything, was closed (which is not the case in South Africa even on Christmas) there was little to do.

Come Friday, however, I zooted on up to San Francisco. It's about a 60-90 minute train so it's well within reach. I did a mostly unplanned trip yesterday just to get accustomed to the city as I will be returning several times. I tell you, the city is big. Big like any other major American city. There's enough stores to satisfy most shopping appetites. I walked into the first electronics store I saw, although it was a little disappointing. Then I took my time at Macys where they have separate buildings for men and women it's so large! Westfield Shopping Center, where they had a five story Bloomingdales as well as many major brand stores. After a few hours my feet starting aching so I went back.

Today I returned with a plan. I looked up info on the major shopping areas and some sights. I also went in with my camera so I have some pretty pictures. The first one is above is the Macys mens building -- yes, it is huge! And it's only the mens building, the females building is even bigger. Macys is part of Union Square (photo below), which is the main shopping square in San Francisco. Tiffany's is the not-so-huge building on the left, but it is full of amazing jewellery. Then there are all those other places -- Gucis, Armani, Levis, you name it.

It doesn't come out as well in the picture (as always), but if you look at this next one you'll see the rather steep road which is right in the middle of the city. It's a rathe runusual feature for such a major city but it is only right in the center. Go a couple avenues either way and there is no hill.

Chinatown! There are so many Chinese living in the US that they give them their own personal space. They had one of these in New York as well -- I think they're in most major cities. This one is a decent size actually. It's full of Chinese stores selling very traditional Chinese stuff. It's mostly Chinese shopping there so one looks a little out of place if you're not Chinese like me. It's interesting seeing what they sell though. Most of the stuff is really cheap -- I have a photo of a special of 5 t-shirts for $10.99!

Alcatraz is an island that at one stage served as a military prison. It has lots of history (read here) and is now an historic site and a major tourist attraction. They have ferries taking visitors to the island. I didn't actually go to the island, although I might at some point, but below is a photo of it from the coast.

I would hope that most readers will have heard of the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, I saw it today from a bit of a distance as you can see below. I will be sure to get much closer, if not on the bridge itself. It's the eighth longest bridge in the world and was the longest when it was completed in 1937. Pretty impressive!

And to finish off, a couple of night shots of part of the San Francisco skyline. I've always loved seeing cities of this size in the dark with all the lights.

I've posted all the photos I've taken so far (including the ones in this blog) over here:

I will be adding to that collection as time goes by so be sure to check it every so often if you're interested.

Tomorrow is the last day of this insane four day weekend. I'll stick to Santa Clara, unless anything else comes up. Try suss out the some new shopping areas here as well as get some small things done.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Back to Windows

There's a group of five other South Africans on the Direct3D team at NVIDIA. Bruce, Carl, Chris, Ashley and Nick have all interned in the team. So it was a kind of obvious choice to make when I had to decide which team to join.

The only thing that made me hesitate was a rather big factor. Direct3D is for Windows. That means development is also done on Windows. Those of you that know me well enough will understand just how anti-Windows I have become of late. I only switched to Linux for good little over two years ago, but since then I have only used Windows when absolutely forced to. For browsing the web I'm ok with it, so even though our honours labs used Windows I still used them when I had to. For anything else though, I used my own laptop.

Bruce, Carl and Chris are also Linux gurus so I took their advice when they said it was worth going Direct3D. If they managed, surely I would be ok. Well, I can't say I'm heading back to Windows as my OS of choice. No, certainly not. If anything my three days on XP have made me even less wanting to use it.

Thank goodness Firefox and Pidgin run on Windows. At least two applications I heavily use on Linux. What would I do without Cygwin? At least I have my Vim, Wget and all those other wonders. It isn't a Linux terminal, but it does knock some sense into Windows.

Some things that I've hit again that made me switch. No virtual desktops. While I've tried a few applications that provide this it simply doesn't work the same. I haven't found one that provdes a fast method of moving a window between desktops. Having so many applications open clutters the screen very easily and the lack of organisation is terrible. Luckily I have a good 1600x1200 monitor, which provides some compensation. Then there's the space bug. Ever put something in "C:\Documents and Settings\..." and had major issues? Yes, some applications can't handle the spaces in a path. Why then does such a major directory have spaces? Why? And the last one for now, XPs multitasking is hopeless. When one application hangs it takes the whole PC along with it. At least my dual core saves me there most of the time. One very last one -- those "Send error report" dialogs...I hate them with a passion!

Thankfully I have been able to stay away from Vista for now. Although speaking to Ilan yesterday it seems that might not be the case for very long. I'll manage, but I still far prefer Linux. At least I have my laptop to return to so I still get my dose of Linux.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Greenpoint Apartments

As promised, some pictures of my apartment. It seems as though nearly every intern at NVIDIA is staying here! I'm renting a two bedroom apartment for $1550, although the rate varies slighty depending on number of free apartments.

First thing you do when you arrive is to go to the leasing office. That's this small building right here:

This is the road it's on, Warburton Avenue, with the apartments to the right. It's a quiet road with not many cars driving by since there's a major avenue just one down.

They have a tennis court and a pool. The tennis court isn't used that much so it's not that difficult to get some time on it. The pool is rather useless now with winter pretty much upon us already.

This is what one of the apartment blocks look like from the outside. They're pretty much all the same design. My apartment is the one with the balcony on the second floor in this picture.

This is what the lounge/dining room area looks like. It's a fair size and some interns get a third person sleep here. None of the furniture comes with the apartment -- I got it all from Chris.

This is the kitchen. Everything but the microwave comes with the apartment. Yes, that is a dishwasher on the right -- lazy Americans!

This is my bedroom. Once again, the matress is from Chris. Although he failed to tell me that there was no linen, so I was a tad cold the first night. The other bedroom is identical -- Migael will be joining me in 10 days and will take up that room. Nick will probably be joining us some time in January and take the lounge.

And finally, the bathroom. There's one to share in this apartment.

So as you can see it's decent for the price you pay, bearing in mind that rent in the US is far more than in SA. It's 1.4 miles from NVIDIA. I've been walking there this week, which takes about 20-30 minutes. Yesterday I got Chris' bike so the time should be reduced to about 5-10 minutes.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Orientation at NVIDIA

I am officially an NVIDIAan!! Yes, first day at the new office went well. Now I know what it feels like to work on a huge campus. Although not as big as Googleplex its size is rather impressive.

Can't tell you much more unfortunately. They ask us not to blog about anything, be it good or bad. I can understand where they coming from, but it is a little dissapointing. Things went well though and I'm looking forward to the next three months with the company.

I must say I'm impressed with the number of South Africans on the Direct3D team, which is the one I'm working on. Whoever it was that acted as the magnet has done a really good job.

Now to sort out that bank account, cell phone, Internet and everything else! The not-so-nice part of moving to a new country.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Santa Clara, CA

35 hours after leaving home in Cape Town I arrived at Greenpoint Apartments in Santa Clara, the place where I will be staying for the next three months.

This was my first time flying Lufthansa. I was immediately put off by the lack of personal TVs for the on-board entertainment. We ended up having a measly two movies shown and they were both shown in the second half of both flights, when I was hoping to get in some sleep. Nevertheless, they were the first airline I've been on that hasn't been stingy with drinks. They go around several times and are easy about people asking for drinks at any time.

Thankfully I had only one stop-over, although it was at my least favourite airport. Frankfurt's airport has the worst signage of any airport I have been to and the shopping is terrible -- at least in terminal 1 which I was in. At least they had a small number of these wonderful reclined chairs (simple ones with no mechanical parts) and I was lucky to find a single free one, which helped ease the 4 hour wait for the next plane. During the second flight (both were about 11-12 hours each) I had a nice New Zealand couple sitting next to me and they were very chatty.

The immigration process went fairly quickly, which I found surprising due to the large size of San Francisco airport. This is my third time in the US -- for my first flight to New York the immigration queue was very long and we had to wait over an hour. There was a 10 minute and an hour long train I had to catch. The second one runs hourly, so I was lucky to arrive at the platform not so long before the train arrived. I ended up getting to the apartment just before 16:00.

Checking in required a fair amount of paper work -- something I have gotten unfortunately used to over the past two weeks! When I eventually got through all that I finally got to see my apartment. I'll post pictures shortly, but in brief it's reasonable and has everything I need from it. By coincidence or what I do not know, a friend Chris de Kadt who was doing a six month internship finished up just last week. So he passed on all his furniture, his bike and some other stuff.

I had to go out and buy a few things for the apartment. I only went out and bought the essentials and I'll get the rest of the stuff later when I know where the places are and have more time. I skipped supper as I wasn't all that hungry.

So, tomorrow I start my second real job. Will Nvidia meet, will it pass the coolness of Google? I'll soon find out!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

nc8430 Integrated Mic on Ubuntu

I have had an HP Compaq nc8430 laptop for almost exactly a year now. There are two components I have struggled to get working. The fingerprint reader (Authentec AES2501) is rather pointless so I haven't bothered much. However, the integrated microphone can be useful at times. Since I'm heading over to the states and Skype is always useful, I gave it another bash.

Linux has always been poor with unusual hardware and a mic falls under that category. I have tried many things to get it working. There are many different solutions that people have posted. I went through many of them. Strangely enough though, there wasn't much help for this laptop.

The solution that finally worked for me was simply to build the latest version of ALSA. I am not sure what the default version is with Gutsy, but upgrading to version 1.0.15 solved my problems. It also required manually configuring the sound card model in the ALSA configuration, however, that alone did not solve the problem. For something so simple really I can't understand why this does not work by default. I hope they can solve this for Hardy.

A good HOWTO on the steps required:

So now I will be enjoying the use of free calls from the states with Skype. While I'm at it, let me take this moment to mention the true high-speed 6mbps Internet connection I am planning on getting up there. While it doesn't quite match the gbit lines we had in Croatia, I'll take this over our crappy 512K capped at 3GB lines any day! I love this:

And now with PowerBoost™, our fast connection gets even faster, with an extra burst of speed up to 12 Mbps when you’re downloading large files like videos and games.

The Honours Year

Today I completed my honours degree. Four years at UCT, completed! Provided nothing goes ridiculously pear shaped I will be awarded my second degree next month.

It's a strange feeling, partly due to the uncertainty over what I will be doing next year. I have applied to study further in the U.S., however, I will only find out if I'm accepted some time in March. If I get accepted into one of the places I have applied to I will be starting a MSc/PhD there in September. If I get rejected (oh no!), however, my plans are to start an MSc at UCT and then push hard to get into a PhD overseas. Even if I do get accepted what I'm doing between February and September isn't finalised, although I do have some potential plans. So I might return to UCT for some time, I might not return at all!

Honours has been the first real year of studying in my opinion. Computer Science undergrad is way too easy, especially when you enter it already having a good background in programming. This has been the first year we have really gotten to know the lecturers. It is the first year we have had our own personal lab. It is the first year we have had the choice of modules It is the first year we had a major project. All these things add up to a most enjoyable year. Most importantly though is the size of the class. With only 37 of us, all having made it through undergrad and remained, this has been the first year I have really gotten to know the entire class. Knowing that most of the class will not be returning next year and that some of them I will never see again makes it a rather sad time.

It has been an exciting time. I truly believe that the honours year is worth more than the three years of undergrad combined. I would strongly recommend it to anyone wondering whether they should continue after graduating with their BSc. An honours is what distinguishes you from the masses.

So that is it. It is over. No more. Done.

Next up -- Nvidia! I finally had my appointment at the US Embassy yesterday and received my H-3 visa this afternoon. I have my flights booked -- 29 hours each way! I have sorted out accommodation at Greenpoint Apartments. Chris de Kadt has just finished his own internship there this week and so he has offered me his furniture and other stuff which has helped a lot! Apparently they pass on furniture between interns there. So I am all ready to leave on Saturday evening and start working Monday morning!

Sorry Janis, but I have to share what you said me as it was classic! This is what she (management person at Greenpoint) sent me this morning:

I had to call my husband who was in the marines to find out what the heck 16:00-17:00 was. Welcome to California we deal in the "o'clock version".

Honours is Over!

Today has been a day to remember. A wonderful year has ended today. Yes, today was the final day of my honours degree. It is over!! Some will consider it a happy moment, but I consider it a sad one.

Lots to do though. Going for pancakes for my farewell since I leave on Saturday. More about this later!

Friday, November 9, 2007

US Visas

I have done something immensely stupid. I found this out last night from Carl. Yes, I underestimated the time required to apply for a US visa.

Nvidia got some attorneys to put together the application for my visa. The process started all the way back in July when they first contacted me and I finally received a thick wad of documents on the 25th October. The cover letter stated:

You will be required to present the enclosed original approval notice at a U.S. Consulate in order to apply for a visa stamp to enter the U.S. in H-3 status. Please be advised that you will only be able to apply for the H-3 visa stamp up to 10 days prior to the validity date as indicated on the enclosed approval notice.
So I wait until 10 days before, which happens to be today. Bad idea! Turns out I was supposed to book an appointment for 10 days before and that an appointment has to be booked at least two weeks in advance. So I anxiously call the US embassy this morning, which by the way entails purchasing credit from Pick 'n Pay first, and they inform me that the first opening is on 28 November. Yikes! But I'm leaving on the 17th! Double yikes!

Fortunately they allow for emergency applications under special conditions. That required me to send a lengthy email to the embassy explaining why, when, how and more. I was just a tad nervous while doing this as thoughts went through my mind about what would happen if I didn't get accepted for an emergency application. My flights are booked, my start date set and everything. Would have been a nightmare!

About an hour ago I get this wonderful email:
Your request for an emergency visa appointment has been approved for the 14th of November at 8am at the Cape Town Consulate General. Please print this email and bring it with you to your appointment. Please adhere to the requirements for the visa application process listed in the attached file.
What's more, the "attached file" outlines what to bring better than any other page on the embassy's website. To read it click here.

Gmail Updates

I was busy adding a comment to Tim's post on the latest Gmail updates, however, it started getting lengthy so I decided to swipe it as a dedicated post and add more ramble while I'm at it.

If you haven't heard about it, Gmail has recently gone some updates which may at first be unnoticeable to the average user, but when you delve deeper are actually pretty major. Definitely the most visually noticeable update is the completely redesigned contacts manager (screenshot below). Tim was one of the first to receive the updates (Google love doing gradually pushing out their Gmail updates).

It seems there was a big push on Wednesday as most people I know got the updates. Unfortunately my Google Apps account has not been updated, so I'm not fully experiencing it yet although I have fiddled with it on my old Gmail account. I haven't heard any news about what's happening with Google Apps as we usually get updates at randomly different times.

If you pay close attention you can see (even without viewing the source) that this is a major overhaul of the core of Gmail. Notice how the URL is dependant on the page you are viewing, unlike the old version where every page was "". This allows for the back/forward buttons to work as well as bookmarking of pages, which I can only imagine was quite a feat considering the use of AJAX. Also, notice how the list of emails is displayed as the page loads as opposed to the old version where you had to wait for the full page to load. The pre-fetching of mail is also a dream, especially for us in South Africa with terrible latencies. All we need now is the faster rendering in Firefox 3 and Gmail will become superb.

One thing I'm confused by is why they chose to redesign the "More actions..." drop-down list. It almost looks out of place now. The same is evident in the contacts manager (see above) where the form elements are all of a design unique to Gmail. What about the latest push in Firefox 3 to use native form elements? The new style mixed amongst the native style could look rather odd using certain native styles.

To finish up, let me just add something that I've known for quite some time, but that a friend asked me to mention due to him only recently discovering this. When you register a username with Gmail a typical choice is ., e.g. joe.bloggs. So you tell everyone your email address is However, if someone sends to (without the .) you will also receive the email. This holds true for any number of .'s added or removed as Gmail strips all .'s before sending it off. So I could send an email to and Joe Bloggs will still receive it. Additionally, anything after a + is also ignored, including the the + itself. This is useful for automatic filtering -- you sign-up to the ABC mailing list with the address and you can easily create a filter based on the to: address.

In closing, a question. Are these updates the new version Garett Rogers was referring to in this post? Or was this a dupe by Google to kill the rumours? I certainly find it odd that the translation phase that started the rumour was "Newer Version" and that they chose to add the option to switch between the new and old version. Although they are thorough changes and they may have offered this in the event of the new version being buggy, although I would have thought they would rather offer this for more visual changes that some people might not prefer.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

UCT Deputy Registrar's Dark Past Uncovered

A little over than two months ago, Dr Paul Ngobeni was appointed deputy registrar at UCT. Now usually I'd be completely disinterested with changes in UCT staff, let alone the legal positions. However, two weeks ago news that he had been previously suspended from practising law in the US 18 months ago was revealed.

Two weeks ago this article was published, which appears to be what broke the news to the public. The whole thing goes back to December 2005 when he was indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in Connecticut after he failed to appear for a presentment hearing. The list of offences goes on and on and are outlined in that article in greater detail.

It was this article that got me to post about this though. He apparently claimed that the whole thing was a "smear campaign by some whites," because "news of his difficulties emerged only after he jumped to the defence of embattled Cape Judge President John Hlophe." The article where he defends Hlophe can be read here. Notice that that article was published on October 17 and that the article revealing his suspension was published on October 23. So it's not impossible that this had some impact.

Lets take a step back for a moment. How was it that UCT employed Ngobeni before doing a thorough background check? Any reasonable check should have resulted in at least some of this background of his being discovered. When will be the day when one at least does a simple two minute Google search? If you haven't clicked on that link I suggest you do. The rankings may well have changed over the past couple weeks, however, I can guarantee you that this one was right on top. That was in fact the very page that was the first lead that resulted in the search for more information on Ngobeni.

How do I know this? That would be due to me knowing the people that dug up Ngobeni's past -- Ben Steenhuisen and
Laing Lourens. The thing that I wanted to point out, however, is that it was identified before Ngobeni's article on Hlophe on October 17. This flat-out nullifies Ngobeni's pathetic decision to stand behind such a weak attack that, even if it was true that it spurred the interest to search for incriminating evidence then so what? Once you've voiced such a strong opinion then you're only attracting attention that will always result in at least some people wanting to find out more about you!

And then there is this:

Ngobeni said he did not have to inform UCT of the charges and convictions before his appointment, as it was public knowledge, and had been published on the internet.
No, seriously man? That's all I can take of this.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Non-Turing Computers are the New Non-Euclidean Geometries

Did the title confuse the hell out of you? Well then good, keep on reading.

The first International Conference on Infinity in Logic & Computation started today at UCT. Being on campus and with a recent interest in the theoretical side of Computer Science (I took two courses this year) I decided it would be worth attending. I won't lie, a lot of the talks went way over me as they were deeply theoretical. A lot of the talks today were on automata and infinite games -- something I have little background in. They were interesting nonetheless.

Tomorrows talks should be more what I'm into though with the computability and complexity talks. Although titles can be somewhat misleading if you're not rather clued up on the topic. This holds for the title of this post, which only starts to make sense after a little thinking.

Two of today's speakers didn't pitch and they both happened to be in the last session, leaving extra time for the last speaker. And boy did he need it! He starts off by presenting himself as a philosopher of physics. Now is a good a time as any to inform you that the title of this post was the title of has talk. So what does it mean? Well, this is non-Euclidean geometry. The important part is that it's not the standard geometry that we're all used to, but it works. Turing machines are computing devices that can solve any problem any other computer can solve (I shall ignore black holes in this post). So non-Turing computers refers to non-standard computing devices.

So what does all that mean? Here's the abstract of his talk:

It is argued that recent work on non-Turing computability suggests a picture of computability analogous to that of modern geometry, and that in this picture there is no fundamental (absolute) boundary between the computable and the uncomputable. If correct, a conjecture about this fictional boundary's precise location would merely reflect a misunderstanding. The Church-Turing thesis is just such a conjecture.
After his introduction he went onto define SAD computers. It uses some whacked spacetime theories or something (I'm no Physicist!). You take a different spacetime path to the modified Turning machine such that even if the Turing machine takes a billion years to compute an answer, you can take just a second to reach the point in spacetime where it finishes the computation. This is then extended to the idea of infinite computation to solve problems that are uncomputable on an ordinary Turing machine.

As a Computer Scientist that works on mostly practical problems this really pushed the boundaries of what I thought people studied on the theoretical side of things. I guess it gets far worse, but half of us seriously stared at the speaker with pale faces. With a little thought I can see why people study such topics, but it came as a bit of a shock to me when he first started.

To finish up, an interesting paradox he mentioned right at the end of his talk. You have a box. At time 0 you put ten balls numbered 1-10 into the box and then immediately remove the ball numbered 1. At time (1/2)t you add to the box balls numbered 11-20 and at the same time remove the ball numbered 2. At time (3/4)t add 21-30 and remove 3. At time (7/8)t add 31-40 and remove 4. And so on, and so on... How many balls in the box at time t?

Friday, November 2, 2007

GB vs GiB

Did you purchase a Seagate HDD between 22 March 2001 and 26 September 2007? Did you purchase it in America? Did you purchase it separately, i.e. not bundled with a PC? If you answer "yes" to all of the above then you are eligible to "free backup and recovery software, or a cash payment equivalent to five percent of the net amount you paid for the hard drive."

If you are as lost and confused as to why, that's understandable. Read this article and that should clear things up for you. Basically it boils down to the following:

Cho alleged that Seagate's use of the decimal definition of the storage capacity term "gigabyte" (GB) whereby 1GB equals 1 billion bytes, was misleading to consumers because computer operating systems instead report hard drive capacity using a binary definition of GB, whereby 1GB equals 1, 073, 741, 824 bytes -- a difference of approximately 7% from Seagate's figures.
The first thing to do is head over to the definition of the SI units. The definition of a GB (or KB, MB or whatever!) has always had it's split between what the SI units call a GB and GiB (take note of the i). According to the SI units, a GB, which is what HDD manufacturers use when stating HDD specs, is 109 bytes and not 230 bytes as Cho claims.

Cho claims, however, that operating systems define a GB as 230 bytes. While true, why aren't Microsoft, Apple and other OS companies being sued? Aren't they the ones that have gone against the standard? Most storage mediums are in fact sold by the GB so it should be a lot easier for the OS to budge.

Taking a step back, the GB vs GiB divide dates back many, many years. It's been going on for so long, that really anyone that would notice the difference should be technically minded enough to know about what uses what measurement. There's an easy fix though -- all things using a 109 byte GB should use the GiB unit instead. The standard is out there, it just needs to be properly adopted. There is, however, one reason for HDD manufacturers to budge -- RAM will always be measured in GiB due to its construction, whereas HDDs are not restricted in any way.

On the other side of things, why are there so many restrictions on who can claim? I can understand why this only applies to purchases in America since this case was in American court. However, why does this only apply to HDDs purchased separately? Does this mean we're going to see a spurt of new allegations coming from those purchasing PCs with built-in HDDs? What will happen to DVD/HD DVD/Bluray manufacturers who also use a GB of 109 bytes?

And yes, I have made a purchase that meets the restrictions. And no, I will not be going through the mission of getting what will amount to some measly $10 or something pathetic.