Episode 228

posted in: Show Notes


Net pirate ruling may force ISPs to cut off cheats


Australian households now face the very real possibility of having their ISP disconnect or suspend them from the internet if they pirate films or music online.
And with the film industry claiming that one in every three Australians has committed movie theft, and that it lost $1.37 billion in a 12-month period to piracy as a whole, many will probably be targeted.
Although the Federal Court last week dismissed an appeal case brought against ISP iiNet by major film studios, lawyers say the judgment paves the way for copyright holders to improve the copyright infringement notices they send to ISPs and therefore compel them to do something about unauthorised downloads.
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The film studios, represented publicly in the case by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), claimed that the ISP had “authorised” its users’ copyright infringement by doing nothing to stop it from occurring.
In a 2:1 judgment, the full bench of the Federal Court held iiNet not liable for acts of copyright infringement committed by users of its internet service. But the court left open in its judgment the possibility that, in different circumstances, an ISP may be held liable for authorisation of their users’ infringements, according to law firm Freehills, and therefore have to do something about it.
Senior associate at law firm Middletons, Troy Gurnett, who specilises in intellectual property, said that Justice Arthur Emmett, who was lead judge in the case, had “in effect spelt out for the copyright owners [in his judgment] what they will need to do next time”. “Some people are describing [the judgment] almost like a scheme, other people are describing it as a cheat sheet,” he said.
Litigation lawyer and specialist in intellectual property and technology law at Clayton Utz, John Fairbairn, said that although last Thursday’s judgment ruled in favour of iiNet, the film industry was given a very clear way going forward to stop Australians from downloading movies and music illegally via their ISP.
“As it stands, [the judgment] opens the way for copyright owners … to improve the quality of the notices they provide to ISPs and also potentially put in place a regime where they’ll agree to meet [the ISP’s] costs [to act on the notices],” Mr Fairbairn said. “And if they meet those requirements, an ISP may then come under an obligation to either send warning notices to those users [who download illegally] or to terminate the accounts of users that are repeat infringers.”
Litigation lawyer and also a specialist in intellectual property and technology law at Freehills, Campbell Thompson, said that there was “a lot” in the judgment which was “positive for copyright owners”.
“The judgments provide guidance on the circumstances in which ISPs will be liable for authorising copyright infringement,” Mr Thompson said.
In a nutshell, this means an ISP such as Telstra, Optus or iiNet, among others, could easily be compelled by copyright owners to warn their customers about copyright infringements alleged to have occurred using a customers’ connection – and if the ISP continues to receive notices, terminate the customer’s service.
“As of [the day before the judgment] the law was that the ISP really had no obligation to take any steps to interfere in the activities of its users if it was acting merely as an ISP and if it had no other relationship with that consumer other than it was a user of those ISP services,” said Clayton Utz’s John Fairburn.
“So what this decision does is it unwinds that to some extent and says ‘Well no, you’ve got to look at the individual facts and in this case ISPs do have the power to prevent the infringements by terminating accounts or by sending warning notices’. It all depends on the degree of knowledge that [the ISPs] have and even though we have three judgments there is consensus on that point,” he said.
Where the judges differed was on what was required to give iiNet the level of knowledge to actually take steps against users who infringed on film and music studio’s copyright, Mr Fairburn said.
He said one judge believed that the existing notices were sufficient, whereas “[the other two] judges thought that they weren’t”.
Fairburn said in his judgment, the lead judge, Justice Arthur Emmett, set out “what [AFACT] would need to do for [Justice Arthur Emmett] to consider there was an obligation to take steps and that includes unequivocal and cogent evidence of the infringement and some form of undertaking to reimburse the ISP for the costs of taking those steps and to indemnify it in the event termination of that users’ account was unlawful”.
Before the litigation began against iiNet, AFACT had been sending iiNet a list of customer IP addresses it had collated using a firm called DtecNet that would monitor (using the internet) iiNet users who were allegedly sharing or downloading unauthorised films using the BitTorrent protocol.
BitTorrent, according to the company that maintains it, is a protocol that allows internet users to download files quickly by allowing people downloading the file to upload (distribute) parts of it at the same time.
An IP address is assigned by an ISP to its customers and can be used to identify them if cross matched with records. AFACT had been sending copyright infringement notices to iiNet with those IP addresses, alleging certain customers had infringed on their members’ copyright using BitTorrent.
However, Justice Arthur Emmett said in his judgment that “mere assertion by an entity such as AFACT, with whatever particulars of the assertion that may be provided, would not, of itself, constitute unequivocal and cogent evidence of the doing of acts of infringement”.
What would was spelt out in his judgment. “Information as to the way in which the material supporting the allegations was derived, that was adequate to enable iiNet to verify the accuracy of the allegations, may suffice,” he said. “Verification on oath as to the precise steps that were adopted in order to obtain or discern the relevant information may suffice but may not be necessary.”
In a letter to iiNet before the litigation, AFACT said that it could contact each of its customers, could warn them against infringement and could impose sanctions if they continued to infringe copyright using iiNet’s network, despite the warnings.
In terms of what sanctions AFACT were after is unknown. Middletons’ Troy Gurnett said that he believed what AFACT were after was “a series of warnings but ultimately they are looking for the ISPs to either suspend or terminate their users’ services”.
He said that this would give more meaning to “the copyright owner’s war against internet piracy”.
“I think that’s what they are looking for; they’re looking for either suspension or termination ultimately for repeat infringers,” Mr Gurnett said.
But iiNet formed the view that it would not accept “the responsibility of judge and jury in order to impose arbitrary and disproportionate penalties purely on the allegations of AFACT”. Shortly after forming this view it was taken to court by AFACT.
“Losing the case wasn’t all doom and gloom for the copyright owners,” Middletons’ Troy Gurnett said. “They have been given some very strong clues about what they need to do in order to progress their fight against internet piracy.”
Given this, Freehils’ Campbell Thompson predicted “a fresh round of [infringement] notices” would be sent from AFACT [to ISPs]”. The notices would now likely carry the information listed in the judgment “cheat sheet” Middletons’ Troy Gurnett referred to.
In a recent opinion piece on this website, David Brennan, an associate professor at Melbourne University, said the film companies may consider their lost appeal a win on its own“and if so there will not be a further appeal to the High Court”, which they have 28 days from when the judgment was handed down to do so.
In a statement, iiNet said that “if AFACT or anyone else puts forward a workable proposal we are of course prepared to examine it”.
AFACT executive director, Neil Gane, said he agreed “the judgment certainly paved the way for ISPs to be held accountable for online infringement”.
On the matter of termination or suspension of internet users, Gane said AFACT had “never stated that termination is reasonable or unreasonable”, despite asking ISP iiNet to impose sanctions, without naming what they might be.

Suncorp Bank error reveals student’s eBay fraud | The Australian
Suncorp Bank error reveals student’s eBay fraud
From December 2008 to December 2009, the then Year 12 student at St Laurence’s College used 119 Suncorp bank accounts in different names to defraud users of the auction website eBay.
Crown prosecutor Patrina Clohessy said 99 customers had paid Heggie for mobile phones and electronics they never received.
Third-party company PayPal was defrauded of $39,104 due to his deceit, she said.
When Heggie tried to withdraw $5000 of the windfall – the maximum allowed withdrawal in one day – a teller became suspicious and called police.
A police search netted fake IDs and the signature block of a justice of the peace used to forge documents, among other items.
Besides charges of fraud and attempted fraud relating to the eBay scam and attempts to access the $2m, the court heard more than 90 charges of breaching bail.
One of Heggie’s bail conditions was that he didn’t access the internet, but he went online 91 times and even opened a false bank account and PayPal account in February 2010.
Defence lawyer Ruth O’Gorman said Heggie had been bullied as a child and continued to be bullied during the 356 days he had spent in custody.
Heggie had been suffering a depressive illness at the time of the eBay swindle, and was self-medicating with drugs he had bought online, she said.
Judge Kerry O’Brien said the elaborate eBay scam was the most concerning offence.
Heggie was sentenced to three years’ jail but will be eligible for parole next Friday.

Google pulls 21 apps in Android malware scare – CNN.com
Google pulls 21 apps in Android malware scare Google has just pulled 21 popular free apps from the Android Market. According to the company, the apps are malware aimed at getting root access to the user’s device, gathering a wide range of available data, and downloading more code to it without the user’s knowledge.

Satisfaction! Rolling Stones selling HD catalog online – CNN.com
Satisfaction! Rolling Stones selling HD catalog online
The Rolling Stones plan to sell high-quality downloads of their first 27 records for the first time online.
The premiere batch of five went on sale Tuesday for $20 or $30 each depending on sound quality. The rest will debut on the first of each month until September, said representatives for ABKCO Music & Records, which owns the rights to the band’s early recordings, and its retail partner.
HDtracks, a small online retailer that specializes in primo-quality albums. The agreement isn’t exclusive,
Professional music producers generally capture studio recordings in a 24-bit, high-fidelity audio format. But before the originals are pressed onto CDs or distributed to digital sellers like Apple’s iTunes, they’re downgraded to 16-bit files, which audiophiles say don’t sound as good.
HDtracks may have some competition from the paid-download giants soon, however. Apple and other Web retailers are in talks with major labels about offering high-quality songs, music executives said.
Rolling Stones aren’t the only group from the ’60s British Invasion that’s graced the store’s catalog. Paul McCartney started selling an uncompressed version of “Band on the Run” on HDtracks last year, and Ringo Starr also sells albums there.
The Beatles’ remastered catalog was sold first on CDs and then exclusively on iTunes. High-quality versions of those albums are only available on apple-shaped USB drives sold by EMI and Apple Corps., the band’s homegrown label.
Like those Beatles songs, HDtracks files generally require special software to play and cannot be transferred to a portable music player without first downgrading the sound and reducing the size of the file.

How did Google lose, and find, all those e-mails? – CNN.com
How did Google lose, and find, all those e-mails? Tens of thousands of Google e-mail users got a shock early this week: All of their e-mails and contacts disappeared.
Google said Monday night that it was in the process of restoring all of these messages, however. “We’re very sorry,” the company said in a blog post.

Game over: Mortal Kombat refused classification – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Mortal Kombat refused classification Australian gamers will not be able to buy the latest instalment of the popular Mortal Kombat series after it was refused classification by the Australian Government.

Mortal Kombat 9 contains more than 60 death scenes, with graphic images of decapitations, dismemberment and spraying blood.

Steve Jobs launches Apple iPad 2: derides competitor “copycats”

Steve Jobs launches Apple iPad 2

a thinner, lighter and faster tablet.
Steve Jobs surprised the world today by appearing in person to present the aptly named iPad 2 and the release of iOS 4.3 at Apple’s launch event. The Apple tablet will be released in Australia March 25 and will retain the exact same price matrix as the original tablet

iPad 2’s new processor, the 1GHz dual-core A5 CPU, which succeeds the A4 found in the original iPad. Apple claims the dual-core A5 is up to twice as fast as the single-core A4, with graphics performance said to be up to nine times faster.

the iPad 2 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, although the display size itself is unchanged at 9.7 inches diagonally (and it still offers a 1,024 x 768 resolution). The iPad 2 is 33 per cent thinner than the iPad, measuring 8.8mm thick compared to the original’s 13.4mm, and it’s up to 15 per cent lighter than the original, weighing 601g for the Wi-Fi only version (or 613g for the 3G) compared to the iPad’s respective 680g and 730g footprints.

The iPad 2 is available in either black or white, whereas the original was black only

The back-facing HD camera records video in 720p at up to 30fps and also functions as a still camera, although Apple sneakily hasn’t disclosed its megapixel count. The front-facing camera captures VGA-quality video and stills. Video out support has also been upgraded, from up to 576p on the original iPad to up to 1080p on the iPad 2

Google’s new Cloud Connect gently lulls MS Office users cloudwards
Google’s new Cloud Connect Last week Google launched Cloud Connect, a free plug-in for Microsoft Office that provides a number of cloud-based functionalities (such as collaboration, sharing, revision history and syncing) to users of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

To edit simutaneoiusly both must have the office software and then edits are live on each open instance…explain

ATM glitch gives CBA customers ‘free’ cash | The Australian
ATM glitch gives CBA customers ‘free’ cash The bank spokesman said the affected ATMs were “not accidentally or randomly dispensing cash; our ATMs are currently operating and have been operating in standby mode.

“That means the ATM … can’t identify the customers’ account balance.

“Some have deliberately withdrawn more money than is in their account … and we will be recouping those funds.”

The bank said the problem was caused by a glitch during “routine database maintenance” overnight.

Police said that it was working with the CBA to determine the cause of the ATM malfunctions.


How does space beer taste? It’s out of this world… | News.com.au

How does space beer taste? It’s out of this world…

Two Aussie companies have already thought about getting beer into space before the tourists get there. Picture: NASA / AP Source: AP

  • Aussies in world first for space travel
  • Less carbonation and more flavour
  • “Full flavoured, well-rounded stout”

WE might not have our own space program yet, but we sure as hell have our priorities right.
Two Australian companies have developed the very first space beer.
With the space tourism industry preparing for take off as early as next year  —  Saber Astronautics Australia teamed up with the Four Pines Brewing Company to develop the very first beer that can be consumed safely in space.
Jaron Mitchell, the founder of Four Pines, said the creation of space beer was an event for the history books.
“Wherever humans have journeyed or conquest to throughout history in the last few thousand years, we first worry about water, food, shelter and clothing,” he told news.com.au.
“In many cases beer is the next consideration soon after the above four.
“This is a modern day voyage, similar to the voyage and creation of the ‘pale ale as prepared for India’ in the 1800s, or what is now referred to as the India Pale Ale.”
Named after the first manned space flight in 1961, “Vostok” space beer is what happens when science and beer join forces.
Four Pines Brewing Company is a microbrewery, bar and restaurant based in Manly, Sydney. Over three years of operation it has earned some very loyal customers, including Dr Jason Held, director of Saber Astronautics Australia.
“About a year ago, I knew him just as Jason,” said Mr Mitchell.
“That was until he approached me and asked: ‘How would you like to put your beer into space?’
“After asking him to walk on a straight line while patting his head and rubbing his stomach… I began to ask a lot of questions and then we got to work, and I keep asking a heap of questions.
“All of this has led us to where we are today.”
Fine art
It’s a tricky art, making a beer than can be enjoyed on earth as it is in the heavens.
Human biology changes in zero gravity conditions. The tongue swells, the senses dull — altering the way food and drink tastes.
“This is a well known problem in the astronaut corps, in the space industry,” Dr Held told news.com.au.
“The longer people spend in space the more reduced flavours they detect.”
Saber’s first goal was to develop a recipe that people could enjoy comfortably.
“We also wanted to make the beer good to drink on earth as well. So the idea is you can drink this beer anywhere in the universe,” said Dr Held.
Saber picked a high-flavoured beer as a baseline recipe to ensure that space travellers could enjoy the full flavour of the smoky Irish style stout, no matter how long the flight duration.
“The gases and the liquids don’t like to separate in zero gravity,” said Dr Held.
“So we’ve reduced the carbonation a bit and given a really strong flavour to the beer.
“It’s actually one of the reasons I approached the Four Pines brewery in the first place, because their recipes, from the get go, are very tasty.”
Part of the reason scientists went with the stout was not just for the flavour but for its sturdiness in different environments.

“That said, it’s early days, research-wise.
“We’ve only had our first flight actually having a human being taste it on zero gravity flight today. So we’re going to look at how that went on some of the data results and see what we want to change, if we want to change it as far as recipe is concerned.”
Taste test
News.com.au put the beer to the test — in the name of journalism, of course — and is pleased to report that Dr Held is a man of his word. Vostok is indeed a full-flavoured, well-rounded stout.
The first swig is like a bit of a slap of cold air to the face – space beer really is smoky. But the flavour does grow on you, and has a wonderful aftertaste, kind of like a coffee in the morning.
So, are Saber considering developing a range of space beers?
“Well, the short answer is probably not,” said Dr Held.
That means lager fans may be waiting a while before their choice of brew is made available at the international space station.
As for the test results, Dr Held said the guinea pig enjoyed the flavour — but for ethical reasons Saber is not releasing his identity yet.
“We’ve kept this person’s name under wraps for a while,” said Dr Held.
“We announced the project and we immediately had people interested in performing the experiment, including people within our own organisation, both Saber and Four Pines.
“But we had to pick someone who had a high degree of microgravity experience already.
“When you’re testing the comfort level of drinking something like beer in zero gravity, you have to make sure that the person has experienced it before.”
The test subject’s job didn’t stop at judging the taste. There were also a whole range of medical tests designed to measure the effects of alcohol absorption in space.
Dr Held described the test conditions as a “rollercoaster”.
“You have to pour the beer, you have to take temperature, breathalyser, heart rate and then you have to write these numbers down on a piece of paper so it is recorded, shifting from 1.8 Gs to zero and you’re bouncing around,” said Dr Held.
“You’re trying your best to keep the beer in the container. He did a really good job of that.
“I’ve got to give this guy credit. Absolute trooper.”
More tests will need to be done to ensure humans can consume beer safely as they sail across the Milky Way.
“The blood alcohol content I think has broader implications for space tourism,” said Dr Held.
“Because you can have a lot of people going into space, surely some people are going to drink even if you tell them not to.
“We know that in aviation, an Australian footy player whose name I will not mention drank too much at high altitude, just on a regular flight — and when you’re drinking at high altitude your body doesn’t absorb it as quickly.
“So when he got on the ground after drinking a whole bunch of drinks, it hit him all at once and he got sick. That’s the kind of effect we want to measure and avoid.
“We want to make sure the limits are known and understood so a person can drink responsibly. It is possible to drink responsibly in space.”
Beer lovers need not wait for the prices of space travel to come down in order to test out the beer. Six packs are available for the Four Pines brewery and selected bottle stores around the country for about $20.
That price seems pretty down-to-Earth, but how much will it cost in space? Mr Mitchell wasn’t telling.
“The initial space flights I understand are about $200,000 for 20 minutes of zero-g time,” he said.
“If so, the cost of our space beers will practically be free.”

Vodafone TIO complaints almost double – Communications – News
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) said that it had received a 9 per cent increase in new complaints over the half year to 31 December 2010, which it called “disappointing”.
The office received 87,264 new complaints between 1 July and 31 December 2010, up 6957 on the first half of 2010.
“The increase, entirely reversing the positive trend seen in the first half of 2010, is extremely disappointing,” ombudsman Simon Cohan said.
Vodafone was singled out by the ombudsman for bad performance. “New complaints about Vodafone were up 5370 in the second half of 2010 — an increase of 96 per cent,” the office said. Vodafone has had a tough few months, with users raging about bad service.
Complaints ranted from mobile coverage issues, long wait times for customer service (if they’re able to reach the telco at all) and a failure to act on promises.
“Customer frustration with Vodafone is understandable,” Cohen said. “It is one thing to have a service problem. But what is particularly concerning is when consumers cannot contact someone to have their problems sorted out.”
“I am aware of recent additional staffing to improve Vodafone customer service, and we will carefully monitor whether this is reducing the need for consumers to come to the TIO.”
However, the increase in new complaints wasn’t limited to Vodafone, according to the office, with complaint increases leading to new TIO officers being recruited.
Overall, mobile phones were the cause of much of the customer ire, with a 20 per cent increase in mobile phone service issues. International roaming had also caught the ombudsman’s eye.
“Using a mobile telephone overseas can be very expensive. Consumers can be liable for not only for calls they make, but also for calls they receive, and for data downloads from using a GPS,” Cohen said.
Vodafone responded to the ombudsman’s figures, pointing out that it was committed to improving customer service and had added 300 customer service representatives to tackle the problem.
“While numbers of customers contacting the TIO has reduced recently, we have more work to do,” VHA CEO Nigel Dews said in a statement.
Vodafone also reiterated its plans to revamp its network infrastructure.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) called on the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to act to ensure customers are treated fairly by their telcos.
“Why should a customer have to resort to the ombudsman in order to get Telstra, Optus, Vodafone — and all of the other players recording multimillion-dollar profits — to resolve customer service and complaint handling problems? There’s no other industry that has failed its customers so comprehensively over such an extended period of time,” ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin said today.
“We’re calling on the ACMA to introduce a complaint-handling standard to bring this industry into line. Today’s record number of complaints, the latest in a line of historically high figures, is further evidence that the industry cannot be allowed to continue to regulate itself.”

Storage update downed Gmail – Business – News
Google blamed a storage software update for the recent loss of email, contacts and settings from some Gmail accounts.
(Mailbox image by Allen, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Google said 0.02 per cent, or about 40,000 of the service’s 200 million accounts, were affected.
Google vice president of engineering and site reliability Ben Treynor said the company expects to have the lost data restored soon.
“The good news is that email was never lost and we’ve restored access for many of those affected,” Treynor wrote in a company blog.
“Though it may take longer than we originally expected, we’re making good progress and things should be back to normal for everyone soon.”
Treynor said Google keeps multiple copies of the data in multiple datacentres, but “software bugs can affect several copies of the data”.
The company backs up data on offline tapes which makes restoring the data more time consuming than transferring requests between datacentres, Treynor said.
He said when Google realised the software update was responsible for introducing the bug, it stopped the deployment and reverted to the old software version.
The issue came to Google’s attention yesterday when users started lighting up the company’s support forums with complaints of lost emails.
Affected users can follow Google’s efforts to restore their data on the Apps Status Dashboard.

Polaris datacentre traced to Piller – Business – News
Botched scheduled maintenance of a diesel generator by Piller Australia has been blamed for crippling the $220 million Polaris datacentre last week.
The Piller UPS generator being fitted into Polaris (Credit: Paul Riley)

An email from Polaris to a customer seen by ZDNet Australia said that there had been an “abnormality” during six-monthly maintenance of the diesel-driven Piller Rotary uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs).
“There was an abnormality during the switching sequence — undertaken by Piller under [facility manager] Dalkia’s supervision — from the primary UPS serving the static transfer switches (string 5.1), which caused an outage to some racks across the three floors,” the email read.
“As a result, all maintenance activities at the facility have been suspended until Dalkia has satisfactorily concluded all investigations and testing and completed any necessary rectification to systems and processes.”
Polaris had previously remained tight-lipped in response to questions from ZDNet Australia on what exactly had caused the outage. It said only that power was cut to a quarter of the datacentre for 24 minutes, and that a service provider was at fault.
It refused yesterday to disclose the cause of the outage, fearing it would reveal the identity of the maintenance operator.
Piller Australia’s manager director and national service manager had not responded to requests for comment at the time of writing, although the company confirmed that it owns the maintenance contract for the Polaris generators.
Irate customers have said they are outraged about the response from Polaris, accusing the company of dishonesty and covering up the outage.
Independent industry sources have said up to 100 server racks were disabled.
While the blackout was brief, the flow-on effect sent a string of banks, businesses, and government agencies to their knees.
While agencies acknowledged the outage, public servants were unwilling to air their opinions publicly, citing contractual arrangements.

Apple iPad 2: photos – Hardware – News

Five reasons not to buy an Apple iPad 2 – Hardware – Insight
commentary Australians woke up to the news this morning that the next generation of the Apple of Steve Jobs’ eye will hit local shores on 25 March — a new tablet to salve our compulsive need for the latest technology and a new colour scheme to make sure nobody is in any doubt that we have the latest model.
Are you passing the point of Apple no return? (Apple image, by John Loo, CC2.0)

For a few moments, we were elated.
But minutes after Jobs’ presentation finished, the cynicism set in as publications started to tally up precisely what was new. And that tally didn’t weigh in Apple’s favour. With no iPhone 4 style ‘Retina’ screen, no multiple form factors, no real software upgrade or user interface overhaul and few extra ports, it’s not hard to see why much of the initial reaction to the iPad 2 has been a collective, global “meh”.
So here are five reasons why Australians, specifically, shouldn’t buy the iPad 2.
1. It’s the same as the old one
There’s no doubt that Australians loved the first iPad. Analyst firm Telsyte believes some 400,000 of us would have been using a tablet of some sort by the end of 2010. With Telstra alone connecting some 100,000 iPads to its network so far, there’s no doubt that the overwhelming majority of that 400,000 are iPads.
In other words, iPad hype reigned supreme in Australia last year, and the nation bought the device in droves. But as we’ve pointed out, the iPad 2 has no significant new features in comparison to the first iPad. So if you didn’t buy the first iPad when it launched in Australia in mid-2010, why would you buy one now?
2. You don’t need one
Common uses for the iPad include reading newspapers, magazines and books, browsing the internet, playing games and consuming multimedia such as movies, TV shows and music.
Well, here’s a big, fat reality check: most of those functions are actually better performed in other ways. The overwhelming majority of Australia’s newspapers and magazines are not available on the iPad. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Kindle eBook store has a way bigger range than Apple’s iBookstore, especially when it comes to those books actually available in Australia.
If you want to browse the internet on the move, why not do it on the iPhone, HTC Desire or BlackBerry that you already own? The same goes for listening to music. As for watching movies and TV on the road, if you want to stay legal and avoid BitTorrent, you had better buy a portable DVD player, as very few TV shows or movies are available for legal download on the iPad in Australia.

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3. The competitive landscape is about to open up
Companies like Motorola, HTC, Samsung and LG have revealed great tablet devices similar to the iPad over the past month, and many of the tablets are expected to hit Australia in the middle of 2011, although some major companies like BlackBerry maker Research in Motion have not yet confirmed local launch dates for their offerings.
Some of the devices have fantastic features that the iPad doesn’t have — especially when you factor in the ability for manufacturers to customise the Android platform being used by many. They also come in form factors that Apple doesn’t provide, giving greater choice. In short, why would you buy an iPad 2, when we don’t have the full picture yet on what tablets will be available in Australia? Hold off a few months and we’ll know a lot more.
4. It costs too much
Even if you decide you definitely want a tablet device, why would you shell out the uber-dollars required to buy an iPad? Apple hasn’t yet confirmed Australian pricing for the iPad 2, but if the US pricing model (where the price is the same) is applied down under, the cheapest price you’ll get on an iPad 2 is $449 and that’s for the low-end model, with just 16GB of storage and no 3G mobile broadband access.
For $269, by comparison, you can buy an Optus My Tab tablet, which provides many of the same functions as the iPad 2 — light browsing, email, reading and multimedia use — without being overpowered or overpriced. Better yet, it’s a sturdy little beast that you can give to your kids to take to school or on holidays. If it breaks, the cost is not overwhelming to buy a new one.
If you just want the basics and a little more, why pay double for the iPad 2?
5. Apple fandom is so two years ago
Most of my friends belong to Australia’s early technology adopters. They often buy the latest and greatest mobile phones, game consoles and games, PCs and laptops — and now, tablets — when they come out, because they want to be on the edge of the technology curve and are prepared to pay for the privilege.
Among this crowd, if you’re an Apple fanboy with an iPhone, a MacBook Pro and an iPad, you’re really just … not cool. In fact, you’re viewed as a bit of a conformist, the sort of person who would switch off their brain and be sucked into Steve Jobs’ famous reality distortion field.
No, most of this crowd has switched their focus away from Apple over the past year as the Google Android platform has taken off in a big way. Why pay for Apple gear that is inherently limited to Jobs’ personal specifications, many ask, when you can get the same hardware with more open software?
In mobile devices, Apple is becoming what Microsoft was in the late 1990s and early years of the 2000s — a monopolistic behemoth that controls its position in the market with an iron fist in a velvet glove. Do you really want to be an iClone?

Five reasons to buy an iPad 2 – Hardware – Insight
Earlier we published an article with five reasons not to buy Apple’s second generation tablet, but this is hardly the final word on the subject. With this in mind we present our counterbalance, five reasons the iPad 2 could be the best tablet to buy this year.

The iPad 2 with its snazzy Smart Case.
(Credit: Apple)

1. It is different to the iPad
One of our major complaints after reviewing the first iPad was the size and weight of the tablet. iPad is designed to be lugged around, pulled out during meetings, sat with in bed, and its 750g weight made this, not difficult, but unpleasant.
In height and width, iPad 2 is basically the same, but Apple has managed to make it a fair bit slimmer and lighter. It now measures up at 8.8mm deep and the Wi-Fi-only version weighs 608g. This, hopefully, will make it a more comfortable computer to hold on long plane trips.
Let’s not forget that the iPad 2 also has a huge boost in processing power as well. The new A5 dual-core processor and improved graphics processor should provide a real bump in performance. This may be hard to tell when you’re navigating the homescreens, but when you’re playing HD videos or 3D games the new power will definitely come in handy.
For some people, the opportunity to connect their tablet to a TV means very little; for us it is a very big deal and we’re not alone. We always believed the iPad was best as a display device, rather than a productivity tool. Professionals who rely on sharing images, like real estate agents or graphic artists, will get a real boost from the new ability to connect the iPad 2 to a TV screen.
3. It’s ‘appening!
Apple’s twelve-month headstart on the Android tablet market has produced a staggering 65,000 iPad-specific applications on the Apple App Store. Though we’ve heard of plenty of developers shifting focus to Android in 2011, this is still a very compelling reason for developers to keep working on iPad, and for us to buy one.
4. It will be (slightly) cheaper

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AU$650 is a lot of money for anyone to spend, but comparatively speaking the iPad 2 should be a little cheaper. That is to say, that Apple will offer cheaper options. In the US Motorola recently launched its Xoom tablet for US$799 — US$70 more than a comparatively specced iPad. But the real clincher is that if you’d prefer to save some money you can opt for a 16GB Wi-Fi only for US$499.
5. It gets released in Australia first
Perhaps the most persuasive reason to buy an iPad 2 this year is that you can have it before we’ll even see its competition. Apple will launch iPad 2 in Australia on 25 March, and unless Motorola sneaks in beforehand, this should be weeks before the Xoom, and months before we see the Galaxy Tab 10.1 or the HTC Flyer.

Apple’s 30pc bite of apps could rebound | The Australian

Apple’s 30pc bite of apps could rebound

APPLE’s new subscription service could draw anti-trust scrutiny, say US law professors who claim it may have an anti-competitive effect on price.
Apple will allow magazines, newspapers and other publishers to sell subscriptions of varying lengths to users of Apple’s popular iPad, iTouch and iPhone products. But there are several catches.
For starters, subscriptions must be sold through Apple’s App Store. For instance, a magazine that wants to publish its content on an iPad cannot include a link in an iPad app that would direct readers to buy subscriptions through the magazine’s website.
Apple earns a 30 per cent share of any subscription sold through its App Store.
One more potential string attached: If publishers sell digital subscriptions outside the Apple orbit they must allow Apple to offer the subscriptions at the same price or less.
“My inclination is to be suspect” about Apple’s new service, said Shubha Ghosh, an anti-trust professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School.
Two key questions in Mr. Ghosh’s mind: Whether Apple owns enough of a dominant position in the market to keep competitors out, and whether it is exerting “anti-competitive pressures on price”.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on any possible antitrust implications of the company’s announcement Tuesday.
A US Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
Experts said that the first step in an antitrust analysis is to determine whether Apple is a dominant player in the market, which, in turn, requires an an assessment of the relevant market at issue.
Publishers, for example, might claim that Apple dominates the market for consumer tablet computers and that it has allegedly used that commanding position to restrict competition.
Apple, in turn, might define the market to include all digital and print media, and counter that any publisher not happy with Apple’s terms is free to still reach its customers through many other print and digital outlets.
“Millions will be spent litigating how broad the market is,” said Herbert Hovenkamp, an anti-trust professor at the University of Iowa College of Law.
Mr Hovenkamp said digital media is the most plausible market. He said he doubted that Apple, currently, has a sufficiently dominant position in that market to warrant anti-trust scrutiny.
But, he said, if Apple gets to a point where it is selling 60 per cent or more of all digital subscriptions through its App Store, “then you might move into territory where an anti-trust challenge would seem feasible”.
Mr Ghosh said courts in anti-trust inquiries may look favorably when a company can articulate a legitimate business justification for behavior alleged to be anticompetitive. For this reason, Apple may “come up with a business justification” for some of its restrictive subscription terms, he said.
“They have invested in a platform so they need to create incentives to use the platform.” http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/parliament-probes-technology-price-gough-20120428-1xrl2.html

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