Thursday, May 26, 2011

Glorious Computers For The People

Yesterday, a report came out that North Korea was going to make three models of computers available for office and home use. Gizmodo, among others, carries some of the details about what North Korean state TV reported. Because it's coming out of North Korea, it's probably best if we skip what they claim- somehow, I doubt learning foreign languages is going to actually be a feature.

It fell to Business Insider to point out the obvious: 'You people are getting your information from North Korean state television? What in blazes is wrong with you morons?' They allow that North Korea might be buying some computers on the cheap from elsewhere and slapping their own label on them, but they're not building their own. (Their assertion that "nobody in North Korea believed that report", though, is woefully underestimating of the sheer level of brainwashing that goes on there.)

Why give the people computers? It's speculation, of course- with North Korea it usually has to be- but maybe they figure that if they supply their own heavily-monitored computers, people might stop trying to bring in cell phones and such from outside. 'Look! We have technology! Why would you want anyone else's?' (Not that it'll actually stop the people who are bringing them in in the first place.)

The Gizmodo readers quickly identified one of the computers in question as a Sylvania laptop running Windows CE, a computer normally available here for $99; one reader pegged the version as 3.1. The fact that it's a laptop makes things interesting, because laptops are portable. More to the point, laptops are smuggle-able. All it's going to take is one refugee that manages to get over the border somehow with a laptop (we'll just leave it at "somehow"), and that laptop could easily find itself in the hands of a Western hacker. Assuming the hacker can bring the hideously-underpowered computer to heel, things would get very interesting from there.

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