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Magical Chinese Hard Drive

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the finally-a-use-for-old-flash-drives dept.

Hardware Hacking 347

jamax writes "From TFA: 'A Russian friend .... works at a hard-drive repair center in a Russian town, located near the Chinese border. A couple of days ago a customer brought a broken 500GB USB-drive that he had bought in a Chinese store across the river, for an insanely low price. But the drive was not working: if you, say, save a movie onto the drive, playing the saved movie back resulted in replaying just the last 5 minutes of the film.' Apparently, the contents of the external HDD box included: two nuts, glued to the inner surface of the box with a 128MB flash drive wedged between them (image). And it was a clever hack, too — if ever an attempt was made to write a file that's too large, it got cycled — rewriting itself over and over from the beginning, while leaving the existing files intact. And it reported everything correctly — file sizes and all!"

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I've heard about this (5, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760366)

"Ancient Chinese Secret"

Chinese Whispers -- (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760432)

Chinese whispers - storage style. Impressively cunning non the less.

Re:Chinese Whispers -- (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760550)

Chinese whispers - storage style. Impressively cunning non the less.

Well, more conning than cunning.

It's a "one-demon bag". :)

Re:Chinese Whispers -- (2)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760636)

Some proper trolling could be had with a device like that. I want one!

Re:I've heard about this (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760444)

I thought that was them peeing in my coke?

Re:I've heard about this (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760450)

Huh.

I've heard about this, only it was a laptop (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760678)

Someone bought an uber ThinkPad running WinXP with 2GB RAM and 160GB HD (keep in mind this was mid 2000s) only to find out that it was a cleverly disguised box running Win98 with 64MB RAM and 40GB HD. There was enough alterations done to the Windows UI to indicate it was intentional deception.

The lesson to be learn (and always kept in mind) "If it sounds too good to be true, it can't be true."

Re:I've heard about this, only it was a laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760892)

I want my AtomChip Quantum 2! [ubergizmo.com]

Re:I've heard about this (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761050)

"Ancient Chinese Secret"

And years ago we had the Counterfeit Capacitor Caper .. where a 1000uf cap might actually have a 100uf cap sitting inside a larger shell, soldered to the leads inside.

Back when I collected chinese coins I was amazed by the ingenuity and energy put into making fakes, not just recently, but 200 years ago.

Some things never change. Buyer beware especially where labor is cheap and some useful materials may be available (assuming those drive cases where extras and thought disposed of.)/p)

Re:I've heard about this (2)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761470)

I have read in history books that the Chinese have been faking antiquities already 5,000 years ago!

Re:I've heard about this (1)

DJLuc1d (1010987) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761322)

"Me quick, want slow.... No wait, that's indian"

lol i r trollin! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760410)

Is this the hard drive that powers the "magical" iMaxiPad?

This is very clever... (1)

dmacleod808 (729707) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760428)

Wow... Just Wow... KIRF just gets more and more technologically adept.

Re:This is very clever... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760692)

The key innovation in this product is not keeping it real fake; but selectively discarding it real fake...

Infinite harddrive! (4, Funny)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760452)

I've sent about a terabyte of critically important data to a special compression device my computer came with, called "/dev/null", and it still hasn't filled up.

Re:Infinite harddrive! (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760800)

I find that saving data is a waste of time.

All the files I've ever created, along with all the files anyone else has created, along with all the files of finite length that nobody has ever created, are waiting right there for you in /dev/random.

Latency is a bit unpredictable, though.

Re:Infinite harddrive! (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760904)

All the files I've ever created, along with all the files anyone else has created, along with all the files of finite length that nobody has ever created, are waiting right there for you in /dev/random.

Yeah, but I can never find the one I'm looking for, so it's not a very good system.

I can't wait another 50,000 years ... I need my TPS report now.

Re:Infinite harddrive! (2)

isorox (205688) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761166)

All the files I've ever created, along with all the files anyone else has created, along with all the files of finite length that nobody has ever created, are waiting right there for you in /dev/random.

Yeah, but I can never find the one I'm looking for, so it's not a very good system.

I can't wait another 50,000 years ... I need my TPS report now.

Ahh, I'm creating an index /dev/random, when it's finished it'll be blindingly fast

Re:Infinite harddrive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35761272)

don't forget the cover sheet, I hear you've been having some problems with that lately. Didn't you get the memo? It should be in /dev/random somwhere too...

Re:Infinite harddrive! (4, Funny)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760948)

I switched to /dev/random after finding it was quite a lot cheaper than feeding and cleaning up after the infinite number of monkeys I used to use.

Re:Infinite harddrive! (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761202)

I switched from /dev/random to /dev/urandom because I have to wiggle my mouse less often.

Re:Infinite harddrive! (2)

spoilsportmotors (1251392) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761212)

If /dev/random is web scale, then I will use /dev/random

Re:Infinite harddrive! (1)

jimmydigital (267697) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761448)

If /dev/random is web scale, then I will use /dev/random

It's only web scale if you run nosql on it.

Re:Infinite harddrive! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35761032)

Careful! I think the compression algorithm it uses is actually lossy.

Re:Infinite harddrive! (1)

grub (11606) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761096)


I save the MD5 hashes of all my files then delete the original. It saves oodles of space.

Anyone else find this funny? (2)

mldi (1598123) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760456)

This actually made me LOL. I guess there's a sucker born every minute. Pretty clever hack!

Re:Anyone else find this funny? (3, Insightful)

dmomo (256005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760614)

Clever, I agree. So clever, that I'd hardly call someone who falls for it a "sucker". Especially in that it was demonstrated to work in the store!

Bloody well done. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760460)

That is fucking magical. I dont support this rip off, but DAMN that was a cool idea and well pulled off. This was not some back town hick, but a well thought out plan, using parts brought/found locally.

Bravo engineer/shop keep who made it!!!

Re:Bloody well done. (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760650)

I haven't seen the principle applied to faking an HDD before; but the same phenomenon crops up fairly frequently with USB flash drives and flash memory cards sourced from suspiciously cheap ebay sellers and similar places.

The cruder examples are simply a low-capacity drive, with a high capacity label, and a specially doctored partition table and fat32 filesystem written to them. Simply reformatting them will reveal their true size and make them safely usable(to the degree that you would trust the quality of such a device...).

The more sophisticated ones have doctored firmware in the chip that handles abstracting the raw flash into a USB mass storage device, and the OS will detect their false size. You can only determine the true size empirically: exactly what behavior the fake blocks will exhibit varies(all zeros, all ones, garbage); but the real blocks will behave normally. If you are a gambling sort, you can put a partition of exactly that size on the drive and hope for the best; but that isn't really advisable...

Every abstraction layer is a potential lie, I suppose.

Re:Bloody well done. (4, Interesting)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761192)

The same goes for MP3 players which use Flash as well.

My wife was caught by that scam on eBay. About 4 or 5 years ago she bought what was reportedly a 4 GB MP3 player from Hong Kong - no name brand, but it was a good price. (At this point I would like to point out I did council her on not buying anything electronic from Hong Kong. The horror stories about cheap products from that part of the world plus it being far too cheap against anything from north America made me suspicious). After a couple weeks she complains it messed up. So I dutifully wipe it using the disc which came with the player and reloaded on everything she put on previously. Suddenly I get an error message that the player is full when I had put no where near the 4 GB limit on it yet. So before I try again I take the model number and punch it into Google (although it might have been metacrawler back then). The first link which popped up was about this model having the exact same issue I was having. it turns out that the seller was taking 1 GB drives, changing the firmware to read 4 GB and selling them as such. The kicker was that the supplied format disc just rehacked the MP3 player instead of doing it right. I ended up downloading a correct recovery disc for it which did in fact reveal the 1 GB limit. She complained, but being eBay, they did nothing. In the end she bought a 4 GB Sansa and it serves as my daily distraction from my commute. (Note: I did load Rockbox onto it because the Sansa OS is terrible and can't be happier.)

Re:Bloody well done. (5, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761404)

She complained, but being eBay, they did nothing.

This is why you complain to your credit card company instead. Then eBay has a choice of either eating the loss or going after the seller.

It's not a hard drive, it's a data black hole (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760474)

Data that goes in will never come back out again! Except the lucky 128MB that escapes the data event horizon.

Re:It's not a hard drive, it's a data black hole (5, Funny)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760646)

It's called WOM, Write Only Memory, in this case with a small cache to improve performance. (:-)

Cheating (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760494)

is an integral part of Chinese business culture and it's not funny.

Re:Cheating (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760588)

To be fair, it's an integral part of business culture in the rest of the world, too. The Chinese just aren't as subtle about it.

Re:Cheating (2)

Lord_Jeremy (1612839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761414)

Mmm. Some years ago my family and I were eating in our favorite local Chinese restaurant. It was a nice place (gone now), and we were friends with the manager. That particular evening as drinks were being selected the manager told us that a friend of his had just sold him a bunch of very good imported Chinese beer called Yuengling. My father and I immediately recognized the name as that of this beer [yuengling.com] , our favorite brew from "America's Oldest Brewery" (despite the name, it's actually of German origin). He brought out a bottle and sure enough, it was the Black & Tan we knew so well, with the label altered. The manager was quite embarrassed and said he would have to talk to this "friend" of his. Actually at this time we weren't aware that the brewery had expanded, you used to only be able to get it right from the brewery in Pennsylvania.

Re:Cheating (4, Funny)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760764)

is an integral part of Chinese business culture and it's not funny.

Sorry, but this is definitely funny. Especially since I'm not affected by it. A lot of things the Chinese do to make money are pretty funny, in fact. It's not like it's a tragedy, if they thought it was tragic they would try to change it. In fact, one of the funniest things about the whole thing is that it is so integral, even the government rips things off [japanprobe.com] . The best part is they act like nothing is going on. That's not Mickey Mouse, it's a cat with round ears! That's not Donald Duck, it's an original Chinese duck character! This is like a bad B-movie plot, but it's actually happening.

Re:Cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35761080)

The best part is they act like nothing is going on.

That's standard operating procedure for EVERY government, yours too. They deny everything even in the face of irrefutable evidence. Admission of guilt is weakness and allows opponents to attack you. "NEVER admit anything" is the slogan of every politician in the world. Doesn't matter if he's from the US, the EU, China or Russia.

Shrinkage! (5, Funny)

cfa22 (1594513) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760506)

wow, something alongside a couple of nuts that's smaller than it's supposed to be.

Re:Shrinkage! (3, Funny)

whitedsepdivine (1491991) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760858)

Or the average male package in china.

Magical American Computer News Site (-1, Troll)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760510)

A friend of mine told me about this amazing computer news site. It posted a new story like every 10 minutes. But when I looked I found a very large percent where nonsensical blog posts that no one would ever really care about.

Re:Magical American Computer News Site (2)

dstyle5 (702493) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760648)

Your friend must be new to that computer news site then.

Re:Magical American Computer News Site (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760774)

Lemme guess, you're Chinese?

If you want to succeed then you have to be a little more subtle when astroturfing (or whatever you want to call what you did).

cat has nothing on me! (1)

amn108 (1231606) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760524)

Coming soon to Lenovo Thinkpad near you :-)

* typing this on an IBM Thinkpad T43

Suspicious (2)

tpotus (1856224) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760526)

"Working in a "looped" mode - when it runs out of space, it starts overwriting from the beginning." This would require some sort of modified/custom filesystem. Seems quite ambitious. "And the "looped-overwriting" does not touch the other files present on the drive." This would be magic. How could it possibly do that? The firmware would need to keep track of all the contents and intervene with every io write.

Re:Suspicious (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760654)

From the comments on TFA: "Christof S. said...

The Trick is the controler. The controler thinks, that there are actually 5gigs available and puts data to the storage. The file table is stored in the controler. So the controler puts data to the storage as long as he thinks there is enough space. But in the storage the real data is just written as long as there is acutal space (Let's say 128MB) if there is more data than that it just gets lost.

April 7, 2011 2:58 AM"
 

Re:Suspicious (1)

Mprx (82435) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760660)

How many ordinary computer users reformat new external HDs when they buy them? They come preformatted, and I expect the space faking firmware only works with the exact filesystem the drive was sold with. That makes the programming much easier.

Re:Suspicious (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760686)

Its not difficult, I actually created just such a setup due to a bug in the code I was using to access a FAT based SD card attached to a Arudino. Mine was not intentional, but the effect was the same. The FAT structure stayed intact perfectly, the data itself was completely mangled by whatever was written last.

Funny thing is, I'd not attempt to do something like this intentionally, it seems rather hard to manage, yet I can say without a doubt that an off by 1 error in my code caused practically the exact same result unintentionally.

Re:Suspicious (1)

safetyinnumbers (1770570) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761078)

And how did it manage to play the end of an avi or mpeg file or whatever it was, without the header?

Re:Suspicious (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761442)

I wondered that myself. I mean, if you were encoding to it, it would work because you'd rewrite those blocks with the length information at the end, but that won't work if you're just copying files. It would take a fairly intelligent controller to result in something playable....

MP3 players, too. (5, Interesting)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760548)

I have a friend that ordered a dirt cheap 4 gig MP3 player from some outfit in Hong Kong. He got it, and plugged it in, and it dutifully reported it had 4 gig of free space. As he started loading it up, it kept locking everything up after about 2 gig. Turns out, it only had 2 gig of memory, but was doctored to report it had 4 when queried.

Re:MP3 players, too. (2)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760620)

I got this too but I got eBay to ban the seller and paypal to refund me using pictures and data sheet of the offending chips, sadly he came back the day after under another name.

Re:MP3 players, too. (5, Insightful)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760910)

As a buyer on eBay, I've been screwed. As a seller on eBay I've been raped. I no longer use eBay.

Re:MP3 players, too. (1)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760970)

Likewise... I'd love to hear of any alternative though. I have a pile of crap to sell, and Ebay makes it so painful that I've not bothered to do it for months!

Any good alternative that is used in Europe and UK as well?

Re:MP3 players, too. (1)

lewiscr (3314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761084)

I stopped trying to sell it, now I donate it to a charity. In the states, charity donations are tax deduction for the current value. I net somewhat less than I would've sold it for, but with a lot less hassle.

It has a hidden bonus too. Usually when I sell crap on eBay, I see crap on eBay that I want to buy with my new found riches. When I donate to a charity, I don't recognize the proceeds until I do my taxes, and that gets deposited into a savings account. So overall, I end up with more money and less crap this way.

Re:MP3 players, too. (1)

lewiscr (3314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761132)

Sorry, I should clarify that donations to charity are a tax deduction under certain circumstances. I happen to qualify, but not everyone does.

Re:MP3 players, too. (2)

guspasho (941623) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761090)

Craigslist. It has its drawbacks but it's dead simple.

Re:MP3 players, too. (2)

BertieBaggio (944287) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761388)

Likewise... I'd love to hear of any alternative though. I have a pile of crap to sell, and Ebay makes it so painful that I've not bothered to do it for months!

Any good alternative that is used in Europe and UK as well?

UK - Gumtree*

*Owned by eBay :(

Re:MP3 players, too. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35761270)

I have a fairly effective system for getting rid of stuff I don't want.

If it's worth a good amount of money, or is an in-demand item, I set it locally on Kijiji (buyer picks up, cash only).

If it's not worth much or is in low demand, I first post on Facebook to see if any Friends/Family want it. Next I offer it for free on Kijiji (buyer picks up).

If it doesn't sell or no one wants it, I either donate it to one of the local thrift/charities around here, or I recycle/toss it.

Re:MP3 players, too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760898)

It's a quite common trick for USB-sticks which works in those cases where people don' t actually use the full size of the memorystick. For a MP3 player it is less common because people fill their players to the last byte.

Re:MP3 players, too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35761068)

Had it with a 16GB micro SSD card from eBay. Returned it with a bad rating and the seller was upset with me, claiming it was his supplier.

You can't tell a customer that it's "Fully tested" and not notice a 16GB chip only holding 2GB data.

Hey, at least I got my money back... but the seller (and presumably his supplier) are still in business!

similar (1)

calin2k (763711) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760552)

A friend of mine bought an usb flash drive of 128GB wich in reality was only 4GB. They rewrite the firmware in the controller to be whatever you want it to be.

ATP (4, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760556)

This is reason 1 why your average corporation has a mini-corporation inside it that does nothing but accept packages and perform testing on their contents to be sure that requirements are being met. Doesn't matter if it's a blade server or a box of pencils. Sleaze is an industry. So is acceptance testing. But if you do it right it doesn't just prevent fraud, it increases your reliability a ton, as it keeps you from stuffing parts that are merely statistical DOA.

(Reason 2 is that without that layer, there's no tracking of who got what, and embezzlement is an industry too.)

Re:ATP (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760656)

Heh... No kidding there. (Esp. the Embezzlement part.)

Re:ATP (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760670)

well said

Re:ATP (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760878)

Also the reason why corporations are reluctant to switch suppliers and don't do lowest-price shopping as much as you might think they should.

Re:ATP (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761282)

If they're government contractors they are required to shop around. If they don't they can go to jail (yes, jail, just for buying the more expensive of two acceptable parts). They're not required to buy garbage, though. And really, if I was paying a purchasing department and they weren't continually improving my cost basis, I'd be pissed off. So if there's anyone not shopping around it's because management isn't doing its job.

new ouput device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760568)

this is the first hardware-accelerated /dev/null device.

The enormous 256 GB USB keys are sold here! (1)

GPLHost-Thomas (1330431) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760610)

If you go in Qio Jiang Lu in Shanghai, you can purchase a dozen of this kind of things. The most funny one is the famous 256 GB USB key sold for like 10 bucks on the street. Of course, if that USB key can even be recognized by your computer, and hold few MB, you are lucky. Tourists would blindly buy it, because they think that everything is so cheap in here! When we see those sellers, we just smile.

data recorder (3, Informative)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760700)

These devices aren't even made specifically for this hack. These are common data recorders for weather stations, EDR's for autos, etc. The genius here was probably more in the acquisition of the case and label.

Re:data recorder (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760724)

See Data Logger [wikipedia.org]

I've receive similar trickery (3, Informative)

EkriirkE (1075937) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760702)

I bought a 2GB micro SD off ebay for cheap, received it and it reported the size correctly, except when it got past 32MB (yes megabytes) i got IO errors. Turns out, the FAT table was written as 2GB on a 32MB card. Writing zeroes then reformatting revealed only 32MB partition onward.

Re:I've receive similar trickery (1)

SilverJets (131916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760766)

And that's why I will always buy new from an actual store rather than buy someone's used crap off of ebay.

Explaination? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760704)

...And it reported everything correctly — file sizes and all!"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FAT32#File_Allocation_Table [wikipedia.org]

Easiest way to spot something like this (1)

JDevers (83155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760740)

Samsung generally doesn't have obvious typos on the front face of its products, eg. "Compiant" instead of compliant , "fie fon" ???, and of course it is hard for an external drive to be USB, SATA, and PATA all at once...especially since it obviously doesn't have SATA or PATA connectors. The last one MIGHT have been excusable since they COULD be referencing the drive itself instead of the device as a whole, but I can't imagine them doing that.

Re:Easiest way to spot something like this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760912)

Thats fine if you are a native English speaker and well versed in current tech standards but maybe your average Russian might not be able to tell the difference.

You want to know something else funny or clever (1, Insightful)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760746)

Not terribly funny. A little clever. Simple fraud is the most accurate.

Think of it in these terms - the "firmware" of these devices is like a financial statement created by Bernie Madoff. The "storage area" is the actual wealth reported on the paperwork.

Why is "fake storage" fraud any funnier than financial fraud. Hey, how about a "funny" story about some discount pharmaceuticals?

Re:You want to know something else funny or clever (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761158)

Not terribly funny. A little clever. Simple fraud is the most accurate.

Think of it in these terms - the "firmware" of these devices is like a financial statement created by Bernie Madoff. The "storage area" is the actual wealth reported on the paperwork.

Why is "fake storage" fraud any funnier than financial fraud. Hey, how about a "funny" story about some discount pharmaceuticals?

It's funny because it's happening in China and China is about as capitalist as a country can get, despite the title, it is expected. Further, the ingenuity of people in China to fake things like this is quite impressive. Bernie Madoff only intended to do his scam on a small scale, problem was, Wall Street was so impressed and sent so many rich suckers his way he couldn't say 'No!' and it grew beyond his wildest dreams (why he never planned an escape hatch is beyond me, but who says criminals are smart or forward thinking?) Without greed there would be so little crime.

Re:You want to know something else funny or clever (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35761474)

Not terribly funny. A little clever. Simple fraud is the most accurate.

Think of it in these terms - the "firmware" of these devices is like a financial statement created by Bernie Madoff. The "storage area" is the actual wealth reported on the paperwork.

Why is "fake storage" fraud any funnier than financial fraud. Hey, how about a "funny" story about some discount pharmaceuticals?

It's funny because it's happening in China and China is about as capitalist as a country can get, despite the title, it is expected.

Really? The People's Republic of China, communist in name and fascist in practice, is "about as capitalist as a country can get"? You don't even have to look further for a legitimately capitalist country than Taiwan, and their stuff is perfectly reliable.

Happened to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760772)

Years ago I was in shenzen and thought I had an incredible deal on some USB flash drives.

Of course I asked to test some, the seller allowed me to write some small files which worked. Since the overall size was correct I assumed that they were fine.

I blew almost $500 buying them. I'm embarrassed so that's why I'm posting as an a/c.

Not so new with USB sticks (1)

larppaxyz (1333319) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760780)

I saw USB sticks like this years ago. They were labeled for multi gigabyte storage, but in reality they just were small 128MB sticks formatted to bigger sizes. You can easily try this yourself with little hacking. However, i have never heard about fake hard drives :)

Re:Not so new with USB sticks (1)

guspasho (941623) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761162)

I had one of these too. Back when 2GB sticks were high-end I found one on eBay for an insanely low price. Guess what? It was really 32 MB. It appeared that I could write 2GB of data on it but I could never read more than 32MB when I tried, everything else was corrupt. I assumed it was a virus and not a doctored partition table. The seller refunded me and claimed it was his supplier's fault.

WO-media (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760790)

The Chinese are within 128MB of creating perfect write-only media.

They've been doing that with MP3 players for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760794)

I bought a so-called chi-pod (chinese ipod knockoff) from ebay several years ago. It was advertised as 8Gb, and I got it for around $20. It had the same problem -- if I tried to store too much on it, I started getting disk errors. I tried reformatting several times, but no joy.

The fine folks at mympx.org came to my rescue then. Using their tools, I discovered that my "8Gb" mp3 player was really a 2Gb mp3 player that had been low-level hacked to report 8Gb. After I reformatted it (again, using their tools, because fdisk and mkfs wouldn't work properly) it worked just fine as a 2Gb player.

I reported this to the ebay seller, who claimed that it was his supplier's fault, not his. He refunded $8 of my price and I left no feedback.

Still and all, $12 for an mp3 player that can also do videos wasn't bad. I'm still using it, in fact.

WARN not WORM storage (4, Funny)

jurgen (14843) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760810)

You've heard of WORM (write once read many), now we have WARN (write
always, read never).

:j

Good to know. (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760820)

Good to know. I'll be sure to double-check my storage in future, before I trust any of my data to it.

Interestingly, the standard read/write tests won't identify this as a fraud, because they read back the data just after they've written it. You'd need something more like,

  1. Seed random number generator with X
  2. Write pseudorandom sequence to fill drive
  3. Reseed random number generator with X
  4. Read back file, comparing against simultaneously-generated values

That'll catch this sort of thing.

Re:Good to know. (1)

BertieBaggio (944287) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761416)

Or just write a file the size of the drive and then do an MD5 hash of it?

Caveat Emptor and Xenophobia. (1, Offtopic)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760850)

When the seller is not looking for repeat customers, they will do anything they can get away with. You see it tourist spots where they sell shoddy goods to the tourists. The proverbial user car salesmen do high pressure sales and scams because most of them are not looking for repeat customers. And your local grocery store is working on wafer thin margins. Still it would gladly refund the cost of a bag of chips if you go back and tell them "The bag of chips I bought yesterday was no good, it was stale" just on your word.

When there is not much of repeat custom, sometimes a trusted third party would certify the goods as good. Only when trust develops between buyer and seller the economy would flourish. Can I explain the important role played by that federal bureaucrat who defines the difference between tomato sauce and tomato ketchup to a tea partier in 30 seconds? No way. Well, that would off topic here too.

I saw several anti-Chinese racist comments in that link. I am very sure there are anti-American racist comments in Chinese sites ranting against Standard & Poor granting top AAA ratings to CDOs structured by cows. It is not the race, it is just commerce. In Chapter 13, Nice Guys Finish First, in the book The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins gives a very nice theory of the development of trust and altruism purely based on self interest.

Re:Caveat Emptor and Xenophobia. (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761150)

Ehhhh....
Tomato sauce = pureed tomatoes
Tomato ketchup = pureed tomatoes + brown sugar + vinegar + onion powder + corn syrup

Can i have a that federal bureaucrats job now? I did it in 15 seconds.

Summary: You're an idiot.

Re:Caveat Emptor and Xenophobia. (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761398)

The GP wasn't saying he needed 30 seconds to define the difference. He needed more than 30 seconds to explain the role of the person doing that definition to someone who needs things explained in simple terms.

But don't be sad. You hit the straw man right on and it is completely demolished :)

If something sounds too good to be true.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760874)

If something sounds too good to be true, it usually isn't.

Question is (2)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760880)

Are those the customer's nuts inside?

This is really just... (1)

jurgen (14843) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760974)

This is really just the logical continuation of our throw-away consume society. Yes, the shop that made this "drive" is committing fraud, but it's just a small step further than most consumer products made by big companies today. Like DVD players that come with firmware that's so buggy that they basically don't work (like one Sony model I bought some years ago) or cellphones that crash 20% of the time when a call comes in (like all 4 of the Nokia 1616s I recently bought).

More and more the products we buy don't really work, or work just long enough that we don't notice how broken they are before we buy the next one because the fashion (or technology) has moved on.

These Chinese con men are really just embracing the highest credo of modern capitalism... profit above product. Can you blame them?

:j

Re:This is really just... (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761176)

More power to them. If something is too good to be true, it probably is. The vast majority of fraud and scams are where the victim thought he was going to be getting an awesome deal and its their own greed that traps them.

WOM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760998)

It's a write-only memory (WOM).
There is also a Wikipedia article about it! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Write-only_memory [wikipedia.org] /M

Calgon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35761170)

"Calgon, ancient Chinese Secret, huh?"

WOM (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761180)

It dont see a scam here, the USB stick was just set to write-only!

Why stop at 500GB? (1)

Slutticus (1237534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761402)

Why not market it as a 500TB drive with an INSANELY LOW PRICE!!!!!

Erm Excuse me? (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761462)

Aren't all hard drives made in china anyway? :0)

Off-brand MP3 players do this, too (1)

kriston (7886) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761480)

Off-brand MP3 players do this, too.
The "manufacturer" puts in a memory module of 1/2 or 1/5 the size it says on the box and they disable "media full" errors which results in the looping effect that the drive in the article had.

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