Episode 200

posted in: Show Notes


Why Google Wave’s demise is good news for Facebook – CNN.com
Why Google Wave’s demise is good news for Facebook

Google this week abandoned “Wave,” its much-hyped social collaboration tool. Wave was perhaps the prototypical Google product: Technically advanced, incredibly ambitious and near-impossible to use.

iTWire – VHA cuts prepaid mobile broadband price, adds WiFi modem
VHA cuts prepaid mobile broadband price, adds WiFi modem

Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) has dropped the price of its Vodafone branded USB modem based prepaid mobile broadband starter pack from $79 to $49 and has introduced its first pocket 3G WiFi modem.

VHA has also introduced Pocket WiFi, a portable 3G WiFi modem that uses WiFi that enables up to five users to share one Vodafone or 3 mobile broadband service. It is manufactured by Huawei. It is available outright as the prepaid mobile broadband PocketWiFi starter pack for $119 that includes a prepaid SIM with 1GB of mobile broadband data on Vodafone or 200MB on 3, both with 30 day expiry. It is also available at no charge on some 24-month plans.

The device is exclusive to VHA. A Huawei spokesman told iTWire that it was a more recent model in the e-series range than the one presently sold by Virgin Mobile in Australia.

The rechargeable and removable lithium-ion battery, is claimed to provide up to five hours of usage and can be charged by mains power or USB.

Three in four Australians have digital TV as analog fades off | The Australian
Three in four Australians have digital TV as analog fades off

THREE in four Australian households now have digital televisions, according to the latest TV-conversion figures released today.

Digital-television penetration surged during the June quarter due to growth in the Sydney and Melbourne markets, figures released by the federal government’s Digital Switchover Taskforce for the second quarter of 2010 showed.

Mildura/Sunraysia, switched off its analog TV signal for a purely digital transmission; 99 per cent of households in the area have made the switch.

13th Foxconn worker plunges to death in China | The Australian
13th Foxconn worker plunges to death in China

The 22-year-old woman, who died late on Wednesday, was an employee at a packaging department in Foxconn’s Kunshan plant in eastern Jiangsu province, it said.

HOW TO: unlock your iPhone 4 to use it on any network
unlock your iPhone 4 to use it on any networkthe iPhone Dev Team has now updated the ultrasn0w carrier unlock to work with the iPhone 4 as well.

Running ultrasn0w is almost as easy as running the browser-based JailbreakMe exploit.

To get started with unlocking your iPhone, you’ll need to jailbreak it first. Follow the instructions in our iPhone 4 jailbreak article (it’s extremely easy).

Then, download the ultrasn0w app from Cydia (the jailbreak version of the App Store), install it, and once it’s complete, you can use a SIM card from any carrier. It’s that simple!

Android army takes the smartphone lead
Android army takes the smartphone leadOne in every three smartphones now sold in the US runs Android, giving Google’s open-source mobile OS the lead in the booming smartphone market.

Gmail – TechNet Flash Australia: Ten Windows 7 licenses sold per second – thesecrethub@gmail.com
nearly 10 copies of Windows 7 are sold every secondA recent article in Computerworld reveals that nearly 10 copies of Windows 7 are sold every second. As the fastest-selling operating system ever, Windows 7 already accounts for 16% of operating systems in-use worldwide.

Wikipedia Gets Catty in Legal Dispute Over F.B.I. Seal
Wikipedia Gets Catty in Legal Dispute Over F.B.I. Seal The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) demanded that Wikipedia remove the bureau’s seal from its encyclopedia entry, enticing the site’s lawyer to shoot back with a snarky missive meant to school the FBI on both the letter and spirit of the law.

The FBI said the Wikimedia Foundation is breaking the law by showing the bureau’s seal in the FBI entry on its website, and that the seal is primarily intended as a means of identification for FBI representatives. Godwin countered by accusing the FBI’s Deputy General Counsel David C. Larson of selectively omitting words from the supposedly applicable law.

Specifically, he said that the letter of the law applies only to things similar to badges, and the spirit of the law is simply to prevent people from posing as government authorities — something Wikipedia (Wikipedia) is clearly not doing. He also implied that the FBI is trying to revise the law because of its hawkish concern that people will rip the image from the site and use it for nefarious purposes.

He assured Larson that the Wikimedia Foundation is prepared to go to court to defend its use of the seal if that’s what it takes.

Godwin’s letter is humorous for its directness, but it’s also funny for being passive-aggressive. For example, he says:

“Entertainingly, in support for your argument, you included a version of 701 in which you removed the very phrases that subject the statute to ejusdem generis analysis. While we appreciate your desire to revise the statute to reflect your expansive vision of it, the fact is that we must work with the actual language of the statute, not the aspirational version of Section 701 that you forwarded to us.”


Google Password check, Supply mobile number. Google seems to own quite a lot these days. Very Big Brother. No wonder some countries are a little nervous to use it.

Abandon Earth or face extinction: Hawking


Mankind’s only chance of long-term survival lies in colonising space, as humans drain Earth of resources and face a terrifying array of new threats, warned British scientist Stephen Hawking

“The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet,” the renowned astrophysicist told the website Big Think, a forum which airs ideas on many subjects from experts.

“Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward looking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space,” he added.

He warned that the human race was likely to face an increased number of events that threaten its very existence, as the Cuban missile crisis did in 1962.

The Cold War showdown saw the United States and Soviet Union in a confrontation over Soviet missiles deployed in Cuba, near US shores, and brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

“We are entering an increasingly dangerous period of our history,” said Hawking.

“Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet Earth are growing exponentially, along with our technical ability to change the environment for good or ill.”

If we want to survive beyond the next century, “our future is in space,” added the scientist.

“That is why I’m in favour of manned, or should I say ‘personed’, space flight.”

His comments came after he warned in a recent television series that mankind should avoid contact with aliens at all costs, as the consequences could be devastating.

Japan to export low carbon technology


Japan is seeking to export low-carbon technology and equipment to nine mostly Asian countries in exchange for “right-to-pollute” credits, a press report has said.

The Japanese government has already reached basic agreements with Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and India on such deals and plans to start talks soon with Thailand, Laos, Burma, China and Peru, the business daily Nikkei said.

It will initially provide financial and technical help to 15 projects in which Japanese firms will export energy-efficient technology and equipment to these countries, the report said.

Japan emits some 1.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases a year.

The 15 projects, when fully implemented, are expected to cut five to 10 million tonnes worth of emissions.

The deals will be made in keeping with a “bilateral offset mechanism” which was reached during the Copenhagen summit on climate change last December.

This is the first time Japan will make use of the anti-global warming scheme, Nikkei said.

Indonesia will host four projects with Mitsubishi Corp building a geothermal power plant, and electric power wholesaler J-Power, building a high-efficiency coal-fired power plant, the daily said.

Among other projects, Marubeni Corp and Tokyo Electric Power will build an advanced-technology coal-fired power station in Vietnam to obtain an annual credit worth 500,000 tonnes.

Nomura Research Institute plans to take part in a project to promote the construction of eco-friendly houses in China.

Japan, Asia’s biggest economy, has pledged to cut greenhouse emissions by 25 per cent by 2020 from 1990 levels, provided other major emitters also make sharp reductions, one of the most ambitious targets of any industrialised country.

Thai king to help Queensland ‘make rain’


A rain-making method developed by Thai king Bhumipol Adulyadej is set to aid Queensland in battles with drought after an agreement between the state government and the Thai royal household.

The Queensland government’s access to the rain-making technology, developed by King Bhumipol over the past 30 years, came a year after the state approached the royal household last year.

As a result, Queensland is set to be the first major region outside Thailand where the rain-making technology will be put into full effect.

In the past, Australia had joined other nations requesting information exchange and technology on the technique.

But Soothiporn Jitmittraparp, secretary general of the National Research Council of Thailand, said similarities in topography in Thailand and Queensland would be beneficial to the success of the project.

“The climate and geology of Queensland drought area is very similar to some parts of Thailand. So we’re quite sure this technology can be used effectively in Queensland,” Soothiporn told AAP.

The technique largely relies on cloud seeding generally undertaken using chemicals that promote the formation of water droplets within the cloud formations.

The chemical cloud seeding in turn creates clouds with differing temperatures at different altitudes.

There are several stages in the process, with sodium chloride used in the final stage to trigger rain.

“If that kind of cloud is set up in a very good condition, then the cloud will condense into water and the rain will begin falling,” Soothiporn said.

In Thailand, the cloud-seeding method has been applied in the largely drought-affected north-east of the country as well as boosting water volume in dams and reservoirs and aiding reforestation programs.

Mr Soothiporn said the agreement is also set to boost bilateral cooperation between Thailand and Australia in areas of meteorology and weather programs.

Talks between the state government and the Thai royal household began in 2009 but an agreement was reached only in June.

It allows for exchange of scientists to study the rain-making methods. The technique was recognised in 2005 and covered by patents in 30 European countries.

Reports said Queensland Premier Anna Bligh had recently forwarded a letter to King Bhumipol, now 83, acknowledging the assistance for access to the techniques.

Queensland initially made the request for assistance when the state was more than 35 per cent drought affected in 2009. But heavy rains across the region over the first half of this year has left less than two per cent of coverage still affected.

Lack of water may cause food crisis


Lack of water could be the stumbling block to plans to double the world’s food production by 2050, a scientist says.

Keynote speaker at Friday’s 19th World Congress of Soil Science in Brisbane, Dr Colin Chartres, says doubling the volume of water is required to double food production.

“There are serious doubts whether there is enough wateravailable to do this, at least in the right places,” Dr Chartres, director general of the International Water Management Institute, said.

“Currently one litre of water is required to produce one calorie of food.

“Recent investigations by a team of over 700 international scientists have demonstrated that if we continue with the currently low levels of water productivity, we will not have enough water to produce enough food.”

Dr Chartres said the world needs a “Blue-Green revolution” to deliver water productivity increases.

“This involves significant investment in reducing water losses from water storages and canal distribution systems and similarly require significant on-farm investment in better irrigation technologies.”

The congress was told food crises would become more common in the next 40 years and food production needs double by 2050 to feed an estimated population of 9.2 billion.

More than 1800 of the world’s leading soil scientists have spent the past week in Brisbane discussing major issues facing the world in relation to global food security, global warming and agricultural sustainability.

Coalition unveils its broadband plan


The coalition has unveiled its plan to replace Labor’s $43 billion National Broadband Network with a $6.3 billion version of its own.

The plan would be private-sector based, in contrast to the government’s network.

Under the plan, 97 per cent of homes would have access to networks which would deliver broadband at speeds of between 12 Mega bits per second (Mbps) and 100Mbps by 2016 through a combination of technologies.

The remaining three per cent of homes would be serviced by satellite services.

The coalition plan provides for a mix of fixed line, wireless and satellite access to high-speed broadband.

‘We make no apology for not spending $43 billion running fibre down every street,’ opposition communications spokesman Tony Smith told reporters in Canberra.

‘We are not doing what the government is doing with taxpayers’ money.’

Mr Smith said the coalition plan would drive competition because telecommunications companies would have open access to the network.

The coalition scheme commits $2.75 billion of the total funds to the construction of an optic fibre backhaul network but also relies on at least another $750 million from the private sector.

The boost to satellite coverage is expected to cost $700 million.

Labor’s plan is for a $43 billion network.

‘This will break the competition problems, this will break the backhaul bottleneck which has been holding back competition and investment in broadband, particularly in rural and regional Australia,’ he said.

Under the coalition plan, $750 million would be spent on broadband optimisation and $115 million on establishing a National Broadband Commission to implement the policy.

HK filmmakers start ‘first’ 3D porn film


A group of Hong Kong filmmakers have started shooting what they claim will be the world’s first 3D pornographic film, a report said on Sunday.

The $US3.2 million ($A3.49 million) 3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy, set for release in May, has already generated interest in a host of Asian film markets, as well as Europe and the US, the Sunday Morning Post reported.

Loosely based on a piece of classical Chinese erotic literature, The Carnal Prayer Mat, the movie will star Japanese adult actresses Yukiko Suo and Saori Hara, the Post said.

The film chronicles the story of a young man who, after being introduced to the erotic world of a duke, realises his ex-wife is the love of his life and features ‘orgies, swinging and some very graphic sex scenes’, the paper said.

Producer Stephen Shiu acknowledged that censors would likely block the movie’s screening in mainland China, a key market for Hong Kong filmmakers.

‘(But) we are almost closing deals with some markets including Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia and some pay TV channels in Hong Kong,’ Shiu told the paper.

Italian director Tinto Brass has announced he would produce a 3D remake of his 1979 erotic film Caligula, while Hustler plans to release a pornographic spoof of 3D science fiction film Avatar, the top-grossing movie of all time which has earned about $US2.7 billion ($A2.95 billion) worldwide since its release.

Linkin Park / Medal of Honor Teaser Trailer (HD)


Developed in collaboration with U.S. Special Operations soldiers, Medal of Honor brings an authenticity and realism unmatched by any other game on the market. Wield the scalpel of the U.S. military by playing as a Tier 1 Operator, an elite warfighter that represents the pinnacle of U.S. Special Operations. Drop the hammer of big army by playing as an Army Ranger, able to bring overwhelming force to the front lines of Afghanistan.

Spec Ops The Line World Premiere Trailer [HD]


Spec Ops: The Line unfolds within the destroyed opulence of Dubai. Once the playground for the world’s wealthiest elite, Dubai has fallen victim to a series of cataclysmic sandstorms. The city’s ultramodern architecture lies half-buried under millions of tons of sand. The very sand that blankets the city plays a marquee role in altering combat situations and serves as a powerful but unpredictable force that will both help and hinder players throughout the course of the game.

The Last Guardian Debut Trailer [HD]



App allows Flash on jailbroken iPhones – Software – News

Take the high road with ‘Fast Bus’ of the future | News.com.au

Pentagon to Wikileaks: ‘Give documents back’ | News.com.au

Australians worried about location services, but say they’ll still use them | News.com.au

Computer use has ‘persistent negative impact’ on child’s maths, reading test scores | News.com.au

Gates: We’ve been spoiled by Moore’s Law | Beyond Binary – CNET News

Web watchdog spots unusual congressional gaffe | Politics and Law – CNET News

Papermaster out as Apple’s mobile hardware chief | Circuit Breaker – CNET News

Courts entertain piracy termination regime | The Australian

Google waves goodbye to app | The Australian

13th Foxconn worker plunges to death in China | The Australian

Hewlett-Packard CEO resigns after sexual harassment probe | The Australian

Saudi Arabia reaches preliminary deal over BlackBerry | The Australian

Telstra and Optus to start ‘clean feed’ to block child pornography web pages | The Australian

Small Businesses embrace Cloud, Internet Based Computing | Capital Expenditure Reduction, Shared

Google agonises on privacy as rivals emerge | The Australian

2006 including Popular Culture, Events, Technology and Inventions

Best mobile phones of 2006 – Mobile Phones

Undoubtedly 2006 has been the year of the social network. MySpace, YouTube, Facebook have been the three outstanding success stories – but also impressive was Bebo (in the UK particularly) and there was strong growth in existing web 2.0 networks like Flickr and del.icio.us. The zenith of this social networking craze was probably Google buying YouTube for $1.65 B.

this current era of the Web is making a big impact. Mainstream media is taking on board many read/write philosophies. This is evidenced in many ways – e.g. News Corp acquiring MySpace and seeing enormous growth; blogs are now accepted by mainstream media and businesses;
In 2006 Amazon came out with some startling new web technologies – S3 (online storage) and a subscription streaming service

the launch of Google Docs & Spreadsheets, and more. In 2007 a major area of focus will be the increasing competition in office software between Google and Microsoft.

World Internet Penetration is 16% and growing – Asia in particular is ramping up fast! Also noteworthy is that 3/4 of traffic to top websites is international, its now at 29%

RIM bets big on next-generation BlackBerry | Signal Strength – CNET News
RIM bets big on next-generation BlackBerry


Coalition to reveal its broadband plan

The coalition will unveil its plan for a cheaper alternative to Labor’s national broadband network on Tuesday, as both sides bicker over election spending costings and budget savings.

Broadband is one of the few major points of difference between the government and opposition, with the coalition warning Labor’s $43 billion high-speed fibre network could end up being ‘a white elephant’.

The coalition’s plan will offer a mix of fixed line, wireless and satellite access, but at a much cheaper cost for taxpayers and consumers.

Former Liberal frontbencher Nick Minchin, who helped design the coalition version, said the government’s plan to roll out fibre cable across the country was ‘wasteful and expensive’.

‘It’s a huge risk of being a great, big white elephant,’ he told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

Senator Minchin would not be drawn on the details of the coalition plan or how much it would cost, leaving that to an announcement by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in Sydney later on Tuesday.

But the announcement could be overshadowed by Labor claims of an $800 million black hole in coalition budget costings.

Coincidentally, it involves planned savings from scrapping the national broadband network.

The coalition says doing that will save $2.44 billion over the next four years by not having to pay interest on the amount the government intends to borrow for the network.

But a Treasury analysis, released to The Sydney Morning Herald, estimates the saving will be $1.6 billion only.

Treasurer Wayne Swan leapt on his department’s finding.

‘There’s certainly an $800 million hole in a budget saving that they are claiming,’ he told Fairfax Radio.

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey accused Labor of ‘playing games’.

‘This is a secret Treasury document … that we have not seen,’ he told ABC Radio.

The coalition has accused Labor of having its own black hole worth $3.4 billion.

Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb says Labor promises amount to $5.8 billion, more than the $2.9 billion it claims in policy documents.

Identified savings added up to only $2.4 billion.

The additional spending commitments were being used as part of sand-bagging exercise to bolster Labor’s marginal seats, Mr Robb said.

‘(Prime Minister) Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan must say where this money is coming from,’ he said.

Labor campaign spokesman Chris Bowen rejected the assertions, saying the coalition’s calculations were riddled with errors.

‘The coalition’s economic credibility now lies in tatters,’ he said.


An Apple Inc executive whose responsibilities include iPhone hardware is leaving the company in the wake of antenna problems with the newest version of the smartphone.

Apple was forced to offer a free fix after consumers complained and numerous media outlets reported a problem with dropped calls.

Mark Papermaster, Apple’s senior vice president of iPhone and iPod hardware engineering, is leaving the company, according to Apple spokesman Steve Dowling.

Dowling wouldn’t comment beyond a brief statement or say whether Papermaster was fired or is leaving voluntarily.

Papermaster’s departure comes weeks after Apple announced it will give free protective cases to buyers of its latest iPhone model to alleviate the so-called ‘death grip’ problem: holding the phone with a bare hand can muffle the wireless signal.

The antenna problems were a rare glitch in Apple’s rollout for a new product.

Consumer Reports refused to recommend the iPhone 4 and called on Apple to compensate buyers.

Diehard fans of Apple’s products have dubbed the stumble ‘antennagate’.

Bob Mansfield, Apple’s senior vice president of Macintosh hardware engineering, will assume Papermaster’s responsibilities, Dowling said.

Mansfield oversees groups that creates components for the iPhone and iPod touch, including the A4 chip, Retina display and touch screens.

Papermaster, who came to Apple in 2008 from IBM, could not be reached for comment at a phone number listed under his name.



HK filmmakers start ‘first’ 3D porn film

HK filmmakers start ‘first’ 3D porn film

Sunday, August 08, 2010 » 08:27pm

A group of Hong Kong filmmakers have started shooting what they claim will be the world’s first 3D pornographic film, a report said on Sunday.

The $US3.2 million ($A3.49 million) 3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy, set for release in May, has already generated interest in a host of Asian film markets, as well as Europe and the US, the Sunday Morning Post reported.

Loosely based on a piece of classical Chinese erotic literature, The Carnal Prayer Mat, the movie will star Japanese adult actresses Yukiko Suo and Saori Hara, the Post said.

The film chronicles the story of a young man who, after being introduced to the erotic world of a duke, realises his ex-wife is the love of his life and features ‘orgies, swinging and some very graphic sex scenes’, the paper said.

Producer Stephen Shiu acknowledged that censors would likely block the movie’s screening in mainland China, a key market for Hong Kong filmmakers.

‘(But) we are almost closing deals with some markets including Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia and some pay TV channels in Hong Kong,’ Shiu told the paper.

Italian director Tinto Brass has announced he would produce a 3D remake of his 1979 erotic film Caligula, while Hustler plans to release a pornographic spoof of 3D science fiction film Avatar, the top-grossing movie of all time which has earned about $US2.7 billion ($A2.95 billion) worldwide since its release.


Husband’s Facebook marriage


A woman in the US has discovered on Facebook that her husband has not only been unfaithful – he has remarried without her knowledge.

Lynda France suspected her husband John was cheating on her so she decided to do some investigating on on the popular website.

She found more than she bargained for – wedding photos of her husband and another woman.

‘There was like an album of 200 pictures on there. Their whole wedding,’ she said.

‘I was numb with shock, to tell you the truth.’

The pictures were taken at Disney World, Florida, and showed her husband dressed as Prince Charming with and his new bride – Sleeping Beauty – surrounded by footmen, Associated Press reported.

Her husband, John, has admitted the marriage but has said he isn’t a bigamist as he was never legally married to Ms France in the first place.


Battle begins for bite of the Apple

August 10, 2010

The iPhone 4 has landed and telcos are fighting for their slice of the action, writes David Flynn.

Just 11 days ago, the iPhone 4 arrived – and with it came the latest skirmish in the mobile carriers’ ceaseless battle for smartphone customers.

The telcos love smartphones for their ability to gobble their 3G data and the buyers’ monthly budgets.

That’s why carriers have been quick to embrace devices running Google’s Android operating system and bid for sole rights to hero handsets such as HTC’s Desire (Telstra) and Legend (VHA) and Samsung’s Galaxy S (Optus).

But more than any Android or BlackBerry device, the carriers love the iPhone. No other smartphone makes eager customers line up all night in the middle of winter. No other handset still has them queued around the block a day later, as was the case at Sydney’s Apple Store in George Street.

And certainly no other launches become an ”event”, with telcos roping in the talents of MasterChef to feed the waiting crowd (Telstra), US singer Kelly Rowland to entertain them (Optus) or holding an all-night party at swank Sydney nightclub the Ivy (VHA).

But the carriers’ competition for iPhone 4 customers is not restricted to eager fans. In their sights are the mainstream buyers tipped to propel the iPhone into first place as Australia’s most popular smartphone later this year.

”The iPhone is continuing to experience extremely strong demand in Australia, with 2009 shipments growing by more than 230 per cent year on year,” a market analyst with IDC, Mark Novosel, says.

Based on those figures, Novosel predicts Apple will close the year ”as the No. 1 converged-device [smartphone] vendor by market share”.

That should be cause for the popping of champagne by Telstra, Optus and VHA. Ironically, the arrival of the iPhone 4 comes at a dangerous time for all three.

Its launch window overlaps the period when the first wave of iPhone customers, who snapped up the iPhone 3G following its Australian debut in July 2008, are exiting their 24-month contracts.

Those indentured iPhone owners are now free to move to a different network if they’ve been unhappy with the pricing, data plans or network performance of the carrier they’ve been shackled to.

Telcos are aiming not only to gain new customers but to re-sign tens of thousands of existing customers as their initial iPhone contracts expire.

This reflects part of the change the iPhone has brought about in the Australian mobile market.

In the pre-iPhone era, smartphones made barely a blip on the network’s data load, as most users restricted themselves to quickly checking email and the web. The iPhone changed all that. The large screen, exceptional software, delightful ease of use and the inclusion of ample data in the monthly plan encouraged users to spend time poking around their favourite websites, watching videos on YouTube, consulting Google Maps and so forth.

Optus won the lion’s share of iPhone 3G customers at launch due to a range of aggressively priced plans, only to see its network falter under the surge in traffic from so many data-hungry users.

The telco has ”made a significant amount of investment over the past few years, particularly in response to very aggressive rising demand”, says the mobile network director for Optus, Andrew Smith.

This includes installing more than 1000 new base stations since the iPhone’s Australian debut and doubling the network’s carrying capacity in the past year.

Telstra expects to pick up many of the switchers, however. Its extensive and high-performing Next G network was previously priced out of the mainstream. This time around, the carrier has trimmed its prices and more than doubled the monthly data allowances, to the point where Telstra can almost go toe to toe against the mid-market offerings of Optus and Vodafone.

The best example of this is Telstra’s business mobile cap plan(although it’s available to anyone with an ABN), with $49 a month providing $400 of calls and 1.2GB of data.

Continued competition for the iPhone has driven plan costs down and sent data and call allowances skyrocketing over the past two years.

One of Optus’s most popular plans for the original iPhone 3G was its $49-a-month plan for $300 of calls and 250MB of data. Today, the same monthly spend gets you $450 of calls and 1GB of data, including free access to Facebook, Twitter and eBay.

For its part, Vodafone has been chasing the iPhone’s growing business base as well as consumers.

Two years ago, its $69-a-month business cap included $310 of calls with 250MB of data, plus an extra $309 upfront for the 16GB iPhone 3G.

Vodafone’s current $69 business cap boosts this to $650 of calls and 1GB of data and includes a ”free” 16GB iPhone 4.

So if there’s an iPhone 4 on your shopping list, make the most of the three-way war between the carriers as they fight for your business. If you’re still under a contract for your iPhone 3G or 3GS, get the carrier to cut a deal that makes it worth your while to stay rather than shift. This is one of those few times when the customer really is king.

Beware the tourist traps

The more your iPhone becomes part of your day – and indeed part of your life – the more you’ll want to take it along for your next overseas business trip or holiday.

But if you’ve bought your iPhone on a contract, there’s a catch. The iPhone will be locked to your telco’s network – it won’t work on a prepaid SIM bought from a local mobile carrier when you arrive at your destination.

In turn, this locks you into paying that carrier’s international roaming rates to send and even receive calls and text messages while overseas.

The solution to this, of course, is to have your iPhone 4 unlocked by the carrier so that it will happily accept any SIM card (or rather, microSIM card) you slide into it.

Telstra is the only carrier charging to unlock an iPhone 4, which will set you back a whopping $150.

Optus, Vodafone and 3 will all unlock your iPhone 4 without cost.

Even if you hang on to your current SIM and number while overseas, you’ll want to avoid using data unless you can find a free Wi-Fi hot spot.

Every Twitter and Facebook update, Google Maps search and daily weather check costs a fortune in data-roaming charges. Many travellers return home to a bill for hundreds of dollars in accidental data-roaming fees.

To disable iPhone data when overseas, open the Settings app and tap General, then Network and set the Data Roaming switch to Off.

If you want to use your iPhone’s data when overseas, ask your carrier about any global data-roaming packages. For example, Vodafone’s Roaming Data Bundles (see tinyurl.com/vodaroam) provide 25MB of data for $49. This might sound expensive but it’s actually an 80 per cent discount off the regular roaming data rates, which are closer to $10 a megabyte.


German ministers told to avoid BlackBerrys, iPhones


New e-readers storm into ‘exploding’ market

Online retailer Amazon has introduced a cut price Kindle into the sizzling e-reader space to help fend off new entrants now flocking into the market.

The e-book market has shifted dramatically since the Kindle first arrived here last year, with new devices being launched at almost every conceivable price point.

The cheaper Wi-Fi version of the Kindle, costing $US139 ($152) will officially go on sale on August 27, and is available to pre-order now though the Amazon online store.

Click for more photos

Invasion of the e-readers

Kobo e-reader.

    Alongside the Wi–Fi version will be a revamped version of the existing 3G Kindle that comes 21 per cent smaller, with sharper contrast, double the storage, Wi-Fi, and a full month of battery life for the same $US189 price tag.

Amazon has led the pack since introducing the Kindle in the US in 2007, but the Australian market has been slow to embrace the e-reader technology with book retailers largely setting the hardware agenda.

The Kindle first appeared here last year, leaving local retailers scrambling to launch their own devices, but with an industry-wide format called ePub gaining traction, a greater number of e-reader devices have emerged untethered to specific outlets.

Although the Kindle has been the bestselling item on Amazon.com for the past two years, its price has fallen rapidly in response to the squeeze of increased competition.

The company revealed recently that its growth rate had tripled after it cut the price from $US259, the price at which it launched in Australia late last year.

And while the market is led by more mature users, manufacturers hope that, as prices come down, and a broader range of content such as magazines and news content becomes available, it will bring on board a younger audience.

US researcher Forrester predicts that the next five years will “see an explosion of the eReader textbook market”.

“Barely a day goes by without an announcement of a new device release or acquisition. .  . competitors will attack Amazon’s market position by launching new features, expanding content beyond books, dominating markets outside the US, reducing costs, and improving relationships with publishers,” it said.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon chief executive, told Reuters in a recent interview: “At these price points, we’re starting to accumulate evidence that this is a mass product.”

The addition of free games built for the Kindle platform – with the first two announced last week – might also help to widen its appeal.

Amazon says its book store now offers more than 400,000 titles in Australia as well as 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books.

But competitors such as Apple – with its new iPad tablet – are now positioning themselves to reap the spoils of this market by announcing their own version of the e-reader. Here are some of the devices to watch.

Apple iPad

The tablet launched in Australia this year and, although it is not strictly an e-book reader, Apple has an iBook store as part of its iTunes offering. This is not yet available in Australia for those looking to buy books for the platform.

Although the iPad’s LCD screen is ideal for viewing video and web pages, it is not considered as friendly to the eyes as the e-ink used in most dedicated e-readers.

BeBook Mini/Neo

The BeBook is a lightweight e-book reader with a six-inch e-Ink display that is similar in size and weight to the six-inch Kindle. The device has not been subsidised by a major retailer here – perhaps accounting for its large price tag – but has built-in Wi-Fi, a web browser and the ability to download e-books via the web.

Kobo eReader

Available through Angus & Robertson and Borders book stores, the Kobo does not have an online ordering component like the Australian Kindle. Books must be purchased via PC and transferred via USB cable.

It has been described as a sleek and simple device with e-ink and a two-week battery life, but lacks automatic bookmark functions.

Kogan 6

Melbourne-based Kogan Technology is launching an e-reader this month. The unit does not have internet connectivity or a tie-up with a local book retailer, so users must source books from e-book retailers on their PCs and transfer them via USB cable. It syncs with Adobe Digital Editions and comes preloaded with 1500 free titles.

Coming soon
Toshiba, Samsung and Sony are all preparing devices for this market. While Toshiba’s
Libretto ($1599) is more of a tablet style device that can change orientations to become an e-reader, Samsung’s e-reader device will take a more conventional form with e-ink display but will also allow the reader to make annotations. It is due to hit the market before the end of the year at a cost of about $299 at the entry level.

Sony is also readying its e-reader for the Australian market. It is an e-ink device that won’t draw power while users are reading, and so is expected to last six to seven weeks from a single charge.

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