OK. Let's go for this in English now.
I have spent the last 3 years of my life living and studying in the Republic of Korea, aka South Korea, where I'm trying to get my MA in Computational Linguistics. So, just by taking a look at my major, you can understand that I need computers all the time. Moreover, when I got the news that I was granted the opportunity to come to Korea by means of the Korean Government Scholarship Program from NIIED, one the first things I thought was: "Hey! I'm going to Korea! The IT country! So, it'll be nice if I can keep on doing my studies on linguistics and getting some notions of the computational side of it!" So said, so done.
Came to Korea, spent one year studying the language, entered the Comp Ling course at Seoul National University... All according to the plan, huh? Yep.
There is, however, one thing that really annoys me a lot around here.
Since the time when I was living in Brazil, and especially after I came here to Korea, I have been using GNU/Linux for 99.9% of everything I have to do. It fits me and my needs perfectly, and I really don't have more complains about it than I have about the windowed OS. Besides, I get a product with a REALLY good quality for free, differently from what happens with the other OS... It fits all my needs and makes my life much easier when it comes to programming turning this into a seamless and effortless task. The same applies to my friend Henrique (De Prosa na Coreia) that loves making his movies and for that reason has bought a Mac that fits his needs to edit and create beautiful and artistic pro-ish master-pieces.
Now we come to the main point of this post.
In Korea, nothing -- without any exaggeration -- nothing works if it's not run under Windows®. There's NO site that doesn't use tons of flash animations (which are still OK under Mac®/Linux) and other tons of ActiveX® modules! Here is the problem: ActiveX® only runs under Windows®!
Apart from ActiveX, there's another problem: Microsoft-only Webpages. Microsoft, as the leading company in the world, never seemed to be so keen of standardizations whatsoever. In fact, when they talk about standardization it's basically a one-side talk in order to standardize their own formats or the formats they support, which many times eventually happen if not officially, unofficially because of the huge use of .doc, .mp3, .wav, etc... However, their power began to show some weakness with the Open Document Format (.odf) being standardized by ISO last year. However, it's obvious to anyone that this fact will not prevent their closed format (.docx) of being used widely. Whatever. The point is that Internet Explorer®, Microsoft's www browsing program, has its own non-standardized code. That means that if you write a webpage optimized for MS's IE, it WON'T work in any other browser that follows the W3C Consortium Standards (all browsers, but IE)...
All this makes Korean internet virtually inaccessible if your not using a fully Microsoft compliant system (maybe even with a MS T-shirt on). It's impossible... They don't know the meaning of cross-platform software, not speaking about "cross-platform webpages"!
This causes a LOT of problems in our day-by-day life around here, since everything in Korea is online. I can't see my grades and can't do the enrollment process on the University webpage. I need Windows to do that. I can't listen to songs or see videos legally from Korean websites. I need Windows to do that. I can't register in virtually any portal, since I need to download tons of ActiveX controls. I need Windows to do that. I can't play online games. I need Windows to do that. I can't watch free open TV through the internet. I need ActiveX players or Windows-only programs to do that!!! I can't access any government site (the worst ones!) or any bank sites (the second worst ones!), because they need my "personal electronic signature" and it's only accessible by means of ActiveX apps! I need Windows to do that.
When, by some strange reason, I don't need Windows to do something, the problem is the webpage layout that gets completely scrambled and the webpage gets terribly slow and unreadable, because... I'm not using Internet Explorer.
There are lots of people around the world that complain a lot about China and the way they manage the internet with all that censorship that cuts off access to pages that go against the regime... Well, to tell you the truth, I feel *exactly the same* here in Korea! Just because I happen to go against the Microsoft Monopoly that exists in South Korea, which is firmly supported by the government, I can't do around 90% of what I want or have to do online in this country!
Because of all this, Korea is not the most IT-savvy country in the world. It's in fact merely a branch of Microsoft... And, if you don't accept the "System", if you don't follow the "Rules", you will be censored and excluded from the cyber-society, which, in Korea, seems to have become even more important than the three-dimensional reality...
With hope that one day things will get better,
PS: Another problem that doesn't apply to me, since "GNU/Linux = security", but deserves to be mentioned is something that I have been seeing (quite frequently I should say). People in general get SO used to clicking all the popups and warning messages that they never read them anymore. This causes a huge security problem because some bad guys use the naïveté of most users to make them download viruses and trojans that get hidden among the thousands of ActiveX applets, that among other "abilities" usually cause the computer to slow down, and from there, they send personal info about this computer's user(s), or they can attack the system in many a way that would cause a lot of trouble to the owner that willingly accepted the "installation" of the virus. Koreans usually click everything that pops up on their faces... That's not safe...
ActiveX controls — small program building blocks — can serve to create distributed applications that work over the Internet through web browsers. Examples include customized applications for gathering data, viewing certain kinds of files, and displaying animation.
One can compare ActiveX controls in some sense to Java applets: programmers designed both these mechanisms so that web browsers could download and execute them. However, they also differ:
* Java applets can run on nearly any platform, while ActiveX components officially operate only with Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser and the Microsoft Windows operating system.
* Programmers can grant to ActiveX controls a much higher level of control over Windows than Java applets ever achieve, making them both more powerful and dangerous.
Malwares, such as computer viruses and spywares, can be accidentally installed from malicious websites using ActiveX controls (drive-by downloads). Signed Java applets can also be used for such attacks, although this is rare. (From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activex)