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Green Guide letters

My Kitchen Rules’ Anglo male nasties, Peter and Gary.LETTER OF THE WEEKIndiscriminate idiocy
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My Kitchen Rules has had plenty of Anglo villains, so stop stirring the racist pot and suggesting minorities are being targeted, Craig Mathieson (Hindsight, GG 28/02). The latest pair are incredibly unlikeable, nasty and rude, just like the mother-daughter pair before them, the ”wicked witches of the West” Lisa and Candice; and 2012 contestants Peter and Gary, to name other Anglo (male) nasties.

Trish Bunworth, Thornbury

Seven’s race to the bottom

Channel Seven is doing a great job of promoting racial prejudice when they depict an Asian couple, an Indian couple and an Italian couple as bitchy, nasty people designed to attract adverse attitudes. There is no doubt all three couples are behaving only in accordance with scripted direction.

John Woolley, Ringwood

Giving the forks to class

I am sick of all the bitchiness, nastiness and the inconsistency of the judges on MKR. We all know that they have been given scripts and that they are following them to the letter. But really! The catalyst for me was watching Pete Evans pushing the dessert onto his spoon with his fingers. Haven’t any of these people seen a dessert fork?

Jenny Doreian, Box Hill

The case of the missing show

We had been enjoying Vera on 7TWO on Wednesday nights, but Channel Seven screened the last episode of series two on a Thursday night when Rebus was advertised in the schedule.

Elizabeth Foster, Box Hill

Missed Mardi opportunity

Why didn’t Foxtel or another media outlet telecast the Mardi Gras this year? What a missed opportunity for advertisers and other groups to promote and showcase our tolerant and progressive country. It’s a great party for many people and their gay families in celebrating their loved ones.

Pamela Papadopoulos, Prahran

Don’t stoop, SBS

Lee Lin Chin can report the news on Saturdays all by herself for one hour. I’m sure Anton Enus and Janice Peterson could do the same if given the chance. Come on SBS: why lower yourself to the lowest common denominator and copy the rest of the commercial channels with multiple news presenters?

Charles Scott, Harcourt North

Wrecking Rex

Dear Inspector Rex … Not content with pushing your timeslot around from pillar to post, you’ve now been sent to Coventry! Who’s around to watch their favourite crime canine at 5.35pm on a Sunday? What dreadful, dead-end programming. Bite a few bums will you, Rex, and get things sorted.

Gloria (Tracy) Guest, Yallambie

Hard work murdered

So it’s not enough that the networks minimise end credits to flog their other shows, Channel Ten has taken the next step with Mr & Mrs Murder and virtually eliminated crew credits altogether, directing viewers to their website. Don’t those who worked on this Australian-made comedy deserve on-air recognition, too?

Kym Cross, Campbells Creek

Real Mad talent, to be frank

Although Shaun Micallef has the funniest eyebrows in Australian television, the real comedy talent of Mad as Hell has to be Francis Greenslade.

James Adams, Preston

Professional all round

Three cheers for MasterChef: The Professionals, the reality show where everyone is a winner. The contestants learn things even from their mistakes, no one is mocked, positive things are emphasised. Viewers can enjoy new ideas and ways of working with food, and the ultimate winner obtains recognition within their chosen profession.

Christine E. Gray, Grovedale

Superior Safari

There is no competition about the best food/cooking show on TV. It is Food Safari on SBS. All class with a real love of the food from real people showing off their origin with pride.

Geoff Burston, Tullamarine

Pro-Catalyst camp

So what’s the problem with Catalyst? It’s not research done in a lab or buzz-word technology. It’s the science of outdoor Australia, including comments from scientists living and working there. I emphasis ”living”, because for the secondary students I used to teach, and me, it provides a rich context for scientific thinking and exploration. Childish? Critics, please explain what you mean!

Frank Bremner, Colonel Light Gardens

Not authentic but healthy

We have been enjoying The Doctor Blake Mysteries and don’t feel it loses any of its authenticity by not showing people smoking, as mentioned by Luke Strevens in his review of the show (GG, February 28). I don’t notice if people are not smoking on TV but I had to stop watching Mad Men because of the constant smoking.

Jo Prendergast, Sandringham

Give Aunty credit

Your report ”Seven News redraws battle lines” (February 28) says Seven’s News is ”sometimes drawing fewer viewers than the ABC’s 7pm bulletin”. For the record, in 2012 ABC News Victoria averaged an audience of 309,313 compared with 297,936 for Seven News. In the first eight weeks of this year ABC News has averaged 291,679 compared with 287,801 for Seven.

Shane Castleman, Victorian news editor, ABC News, Melbourne

Wiener’s a winner

Am I alone in appreciating the excellent Sarah Wiener, 6.40pm weekdays on SBS Two? She is an innovative chef from Berlin who visits areas of Italy, exploring the cuisine before cooking up an original interpretation of the fare. Her friendly, unassuming manner contrast to the confrontational ”cooking soaps” on the commercial channels.

Bruce Boldner, Brighton

No Lynx effect for Joe

May I politely offer some deodorant to Joe Hildebrand while debating issues on The Drum. He needs to have a change of shirt during the show as all that passionate debate seems to have side effects. I’m sure he can sweat it out with my criticism as well. Poor man … someone please assist him.

James Smith, Melbourne

Can’t of Worms

I’ve tried to put up with the latest series of Can of Worms, but enough is enough. They used to ask contentious questions, have meaningful debates and make the audience laugh. Now it’s just as annoying as Chrissie Swan herself. Goodbye Can of Worms.

Joshua Gray, Wodonga

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Political thriller retains its slimy appeal in the US

First look: House of Cards
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Depending on your age, you might remember Ian Richardson in the original House of Cards playing Francis Urquhart, a slimy British politician who redefined television’s portrayal of politicians. That is, it brought slimy truth to the fore and exposed politics for the shallow and inhuman house of cards it is.

The thought of taking something so definitive and fashioning an American remake might be enough to turn your hair white. It verges on sacrilege, particularly when you consider the American television market’s imperfect record.

But the American version of House of Cards, produced by Sony for on-demand TV service Netflix, is complex enough to earn a second glance. And once you’ve seen one riveting, sickening and illuminating episode, you’ll likely stay the course.

In a sense, Australian audiences have the toughest call here. As with shows such as The Office, we have the advantage of having seen the original before the copy. And the original House of Cards was, and is, a sight to behold. Richardson’s performance is exquisite, the observations in the writing devastating.

Kevin Spacey, with smooth charm, is strangely likeable in a way Richardson was not. And his character, Frank Underwood, is a far more modern politician, alternately captivating and disgusting.

House of Cards is Shakespeare, retold and laced with the bard at his political best. Spacey is moments out of his thrilling Richard III, and that heightened sense of stage play is felt loud and hard here.

He talks to the camera like an actor glancing at the audience, while Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood circles her husband with the sultry, luxuriant thrill of Lady Macbeth.

Much kudos should go to the director, David Fincher. This is a big drama told in small, sharp notes, and its velvet texture belies the taut, muscular motion of the story.

House of Cards launched in the US on February 1. It has not yet been sold to an Australian broadcaster.

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New look, same great TV coverage

What excites you about TV? Maybe it’s Walter White (Bryan Cranston) or Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) behaving badly on Breaking Bad and Girls. Or Don Draper (Jon Hamm) brooding on Mad Men.
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Maybe it’s Tony Jones grilling a guest on Lateline or velvet-voiced Dennis Cometti calling an AFL game. What about Scandinavian crime thrillers, Israeli dramas and English cooking shows? What about a newcomer who sends the judges on The Voice spinning in their chairs, or a culinary triumph on My Kitchen Rules?

Television offers a smorgasbord of riches and, in terms of flexibility and variety, there’s never been a better time to view. What was once a limited diet provided by a handful of mainstream channels has grown into a feast. You can watch on a super-sized screen in the lounge room, a phone on the tram, a computer at your desk or a tablet in a cafe tuned to a catch-up website.

However you choose to watch, if you choose well, the experience can be rewarding. That’s where we come in. At the Green Guide, we know there’s a lot to love about TV. And, yes, there’s also shabby stuff that deserves to be rubbished. We can do that too.

For decades, the Green Guide has been an institution at The Age and in Melbourne. It’s celebrated accomplishments in TV and radio, criticised the duds, profiled those who make a difference and analysed industry trends.

The new-look Green Guide will continue to provide the features that readers value: a lively Letters page, a Livewire section looking at the latest in entertainment technology, the Hindsight column, radio and sports columns on alternate weeks, and radio listings.

There’s also the country’s best viewing guide with previews from our experienced team, authoritative film reviews and pay TV highlights.

We don’t always agree about what we like, and you might not always agree with us. But we do know this: when TV is good, it can be great. And that keeps us all coming back for more.

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Narratives share the indigenous story

For a television show to clock up 10 years on air is no mean feat. For an indigenous current affairs program plagued by budget cuts, network management shuffles and a prevailing misconception that viewers aren’t all that interested, a decade on air is cause for celebration.
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As SBS’s Living Black celebrates its milestone with a prime-time slot on indigenous network NITV, its face and founder, Karla Grant, reflects on a decade of stories that would otherwise have remained untold.

”It’s been quite a journey,” Grant says from the SBS studios in Sydney. ”When we started, there was no program like ours on television, so we were trying to cover everything – news, art, sport, music, everything under the sun to do with indigenous people and indigenous life and issues. We started doing mini-documentaries and over the years we’ve evolved into a harder-edged current affairs program.”

The 2004 move from SBS’s now-defunct local productions department to news and current affairs was the beginning of a new era for Living Black, and saved it from the axe.

”I really had to fight for the survival of the show,” Grant says. ”I entered into talks with the then head of news and current affairs at SBS, Phil Martin, and I’m forever grateful to him for getting behind me.”

Adopting video-journalism at a time when the only other Australian current affairs show to do so was Dateline, Living Black reporters were able to work within budget restraints and tread softly in media-shy communities.

”We’ve built up a pretty good reputation over the past 10 years,” she says. ”People know we’re not going to just breeze in and breeze out and have no respect. That’s been part of the problem in the past and it still exists. A lot of commercial stations and people from print go into remote communities and they leave a sour taste.”

With family members spread across the Northern Territory and the Tiwi Islands, Grant is welcomed into communities that are often closed to other reporters. Of course, with such privilege comes responsibility.

”I love getting out on location and meeting people at the grassroots,” she says. ”You learn so much and you meet some really lovely people … The show has an important role to play in our society in creating an awareness and understanding of indigenous issues and culture, especially as we head towards constitutional recognition.”

Grant wishes more Australians could see for themselves the plight of Aboriginal people in remote areas.

”When I visit a community and I see 20 people living in a house, I think, ‘What on earth is going on?’ All this money is put into indigenous housing yet we’re seeing people living in overcrowded situations that breed arguments, violence and drinking.

”Then there’s no work in the town, so there’s no employment or education opportunities for these people. It’s a vicious cycle, and that makes me angry. People shouldn’t be living like that in this day and age.”

That it has taken until 2012 for Australians to have a free-to-air indigenous TV network is a matter that still confounds Grant.

”There hasn’t been that commitment from governments in the past to fund a channel like NITV,” she says. ”You don’t see a lot of indigenous stories on mainstream networks because programmers think they don’t rate. There’s been a hesitation to take a chance, but in fact people are interested in indigenous stories – they want to know more.”

Living Black returns on Tuesday, March 12, at 7.30pm on NITV, and is repeated on SBS One at 2.30pm on Fridays and 4.30pm on Sundays.

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Inquiry finds flaws in legend of Simpson

An official inquiry has punctured the most popular legend of the Gallipoli campaign by declaring Simpson – the man with the donkey – was not exceptionally brave.
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A Defence Department committee last week found there were no grounds to justify the demand of a long-running public campaign that John Simpson Kirkpatrick be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

But the committee went further to rule that the British-born private was no more gallant than scores of other stretcher-bearers who transported wounded soldiers in the first weeks after the Gallipoli landing in April 1915.

“The tribunal found that Simpson’s initiative and bravery were representative of all other stretcher-bearers of the 3rd Field Ambulance,” the report said.

Simpson – who enlisted under his middle name to hide the fact that he was a deserter from the merchant navy – spent several weeks ferrying wounded soldiers on a stray donkey before he was killed on May 19.

His story captured the imagination of war correspondents and the Australian public, which came to regard his selfless bravery as exemplifying the Anzac spirit. His deeds have since been celebrated in a series of books, films and plays.

But a year-long inquiry by the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal heard detailed evidence it was impossible for Simpson to have rescued the more than 300 wounded soldiers whose lives he is widely credited with saving.

Instead, it was estimated he ferried fewer than half that number before his death, all of them lightly wounded and none with life-threatening injuries.

The tribunal was told that there was no evidence in military archives to support the popular belief that Simpson had repeatedly ventured into no-man’s land under Turkish fire to rescue badly wounded soldiers.

One submission detailed how several witnesses whose vivid accounts of Simpson’s bravery have reinforced the legend of the man with the donkey were not even at Gallipoli at the time.

The tribunal ruled Simpson’s bravery had been “appropriately recognised” by a Mentioned-in-Dispatches award made to him and seven other members of the 3rd Field Ambulance in early May 1915. It concluded there were no grounds for him to receive a VC or any other gallantry medal.

Tribunal chairman Alan Rose told a news conference last week that Simpson was “a curiosity” who, having chosen a donkey as his method of transport, was “largely only able to bring lightly wounded men” down from the front lines to the beach at Anzac Cove.

“The judgment by his peers, by his commanders at the time, was that he had displayed considerable bravery but that it didn’t reach the very high levels either for the award of a second or third-level award – a Distinguished Conduct Medal or a Military Medal – much less a Victoria Cross,” he said.

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Officials broke rules on Zygier as case was flicked to ASIO

Two of Australia’s highest ranking foreign affairs officials knew of the jailing of Melbourne man Ben Zygier – dubbed ”Prisoner X” – in Israel but left his consular care in the hands of spy agency ASIO in clear breach of the department’s own rules.
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An internal investigation by the Department of Foreign Affairs revealed on Wednesday that Dennis Richardson, then head of the department, and then first assistant secretary Greg Moriarty, were briefed by ASIO of Mr Zygier’s arrest on February 24, 2010, but failed to directly inform their then minister, Stephen Smith, or Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

”I don’t think that’s satisfactory. I don’t think it’s remotely satisfactory,” Senator Carr said of Mr Zygier’s welfare being left to ASIO.

The reliance on ASIO to handle the case came despite the agency’s deeply strained relations with Israeli counterpart Mossad – for whom Mr Zygier was working – at the time.

Fairfax Media understands that ASIO and Mossad had a deal not to use each other’s nationals as spies but that the Israelis broke the agreement by recruiting Mr Zygier and at least two other dual citizens. Relations had also plummeted because of Israel’s use of forged Australian passports in the assassination in Dubai of Hamas commander Mahmoud al Mabhouh.

Mr Zygier reportedly killed

himself in December 2010 in Israel’s high-security Ayalon prison, where he was being held in extraordinary secrecy on charges he broke Israeli national security laws.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who ordered the investigation after news of the Prisoner X case broke, admitted that DFAT had been wrong to rely on ASIO, which was in turn accepting the assurances of the Israeli government that Mr Zygier was being well-treated.

While Mr Zygier had 50 visits from his family in prison, and had regular access to his lawyer, DFAT ”did not follow up on the assurances received about Mr Zygier”, other than a brief inquiry by Mr Moriarty, the report states.

Mr Moriarty told the inquiry that Mr Zygier’s dual nationality was ”one, but not the sole, factor in the decision not to make diplomatic inquiries on his behalf”.

Australia’s embassy regulations make clear that the government offers dual nationals such as Mr Zygier the same level of protection as anyone else, stating that ”consular officials are charged with protecting Australians even if they hold another nationality”.

Mr Richardson, a former ASIO director-general who is now head of the Defence Department, declined to comment on Wednesday. Mr Moriarty, who is now ambassador to Indonesia, could not be reached for comment.

The investigation report also raises questions about who in the office of the then prime minister, Mr Rudd, as well Mr Smith’s office, knew of the Zygier case. Both said on Wednesday they had ”no recollection” of being briefed, though the investigation states ASIO informed Mr Rudd’s office and that Mr Smith’s chief of staff, Frances Adamson, who is now ambassador to China, was briefed by Mr Moriarty.

Senator Carr said he accepted the report’s recommendations that there be a clearer set of protocols as to which branch of government would be responsible for helping Australians in such cases in future.

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A lack of clarity of vision

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W e’ve been living with a full install of Windows 8 for three weeks, running on our oldish NEC laptop. There is good news and you know what else. The good news is that 8 has breathed new life into the NEC. It is now up and running in seconds, rather than minutes. If we had a new ultrabook equipped with a solid-state drive, we imagine there would be no lag between pushing the On button and being able to get to work.

All the standard photo-editing programs also run faster, but in appearance and use they are no different from Windows 7 or Vista. There are no native Windows 8 versions of Photoshop, Lightroom or the freebie IrfanView.

This means it is like working in two operating systems simultaneously. One is the new-look ”Modern” Windows interface and the other is the old-style desktop. Microsoft’s attempt to create an interface that functions across all devices – laptops, tablets, phones and desktops – doesn’t really work. But Microsoft is to be thanked for treating customers with respect. We don’t need to buy software for the new operating system.

But that is where the good news ends. Image file handling is a big disappointment. Windows Photo Gallery is supposed to be a match for Apple’s iPhoto but it falls down at the first hurdle. You can’t open a RAW file in Photo Gallery without converting it to JPEG. On a Mac, RAW files are displayed in Preview and iPhoto, can be opened in iPhoto, and after editing can be saved in the original format.

The photo-viewing app in 8 doesn’t even show a thumbnail of a RAW file. And right-clicking on a thumbnail in the photo viewer doesn’t lead to any useful options, such as the elementary choice to open the file in Photo Gallery.

Photo Gallery itself is no match for iPhoto. It conforms to the overly automated conventions of the Modern user interface. There is an editing module with a reasonable degree of user control but the assumption is you can’t be bothered with that – just press Auto-Fix and hope for the best.

So, iPhoto looks and works like a photo-editing program for grown-ups.

The one thing about Windows 8 that is superior to the Apple alternative is no thanks to Microsoft. IrfanView is a free image-viewing file that beats the Mac’s Preview in every way. Unfortunately, there is no Mac version of IrfanView but XnView is almost as good.

Windows Photo Gallery seems to assume a user who is not a serious photographer and thinks shooting RAW means doing it in the nude; their ambition stops at Facebook or Twitter; iPhoto assumes a serious user who wants the on-the-go convenience of a friendly, well-featured photo editor to use as a quick Photoshop alternative. Apple’s way is better.

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Wireless for sound

There’s nothing wrong with pimping out your smartphone when the aftermarket looks and sounds this good.
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Logitech’s UE Mobile Bluetooth Boombox speakers mark the dawn of a new age of wireless speakers – no cords and wires to trip over, no hunting down a power point to plug into, and no back injuries lugging hefty stereo speakers into the backyard for an alfresco soiree.

Weighing a tiny 298 grams, the portable Boombox packs a punch for sound, despite its tiny build, putting out almost 80 crisp decibels.

How loud is that? Well, a vacuum cleaner, lawn mower, electric shaver and city traffic rank at about 80 decibels, so that’s a reasonably banging level from a speaker only 11 centimetres wide and six centimetres deep.

Its transportable size and sub-$100 price make the neon noise maker a terrific device to pair with your smartphone or tablet; a mouthpiece for your digital tunes, if you don’t fancy investing in an expensive micro hi-fi system (with a phone dock that will be obsolete as soon as Apple decides to run with a new connector size – oh, wait, that’s already happened).

It’s light enough to carry in a handbag or carry-on, and lets you control your music from up to 15 metres away.

There’s also a built-in microphone for hands-free calls and the ability to connect to two Bluetooth devices at the same time, which would make it easy to rotate people’s playlists at a party as opposed to yelling at the designated DJ to play your favourite track.

Beyond the impressive tech specs, the Boombox has got some real styling swagger, sporting a retro metallic grille in five pop-art colour schemes and a curved rubber casing.

The battery life of the Boombox is impressive, too. We went three days of on-and-off use around the house, probably more than eight hours of listening, before needing to recharge. Booyah, the little loudspeaker goes the distance.

Verdict Big sound for a little price, where and when you want it.

RRP $99.95, from leading retailers.

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Podcasters take aim, hit targets

Loose format: Richard Haridy (left) and Luke Buckmaster record in Buckmaster’s lounge room. Photo: Jason SouthPodcasting is a great format for talking about your passions, whether they are politics, music, sport or whatever sparks you up. Creating a podcast is like creating your own global radio show.
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Podcasts have been around for a while but have not taken off in the way of blogs, Facebook or Twitter. This is a shame, because there are so many free, original and interesting podcasts around.

The word ”podcast” is a combination of iPod and broadcast. In 2005, The New Oxford American Dictionary selected ”podcast” as its word of the year. Since then, high-speed broadband and simpler ways of producing podcasts means it is easier than ever to get your voice online without much technical knowledge.

Put a podcast on your blog, website, iTunes, or pitch to other websites that host podcasts, such as radio station 3RRR, or topic-specific websites such as squirrelcomedy上海夜网m for Australian comics.

Film reviewers Luke Buckmaster and Richard Haridy record The Parallax Podcast in Buckmaster’s lounge room. They have been podcasting for about a year, and their fortnightly half-hour podcasts are available on Crikey and iTunes.

”We love podcasting because it’s fun,” Buckmaster says.

They estimate they have about 500 listeners, based on Crikey page hit statistics, but this can spike up to 1000 when, for example, they have guests such as John Safran. ”That episode still gets traffic,” Buckmaster says.

They encourage listeners to tweet feedback and, sometimes, as part of a competition. ”It’s important to foster a relationship with your audience,” Buckmaster says. ”We keep the format loose, informal and light. We joke around. We have a drink while we’re doing it. We don’t write intros; it’s off-the-cuff. People can hear the difference between reading a script and talking naturally.”

The pair have learnt how to operate as a team, knowing when to speak and when to let the other person speak. ”It’s important to be in the same room. The most important thing is the chemistry between hosts.”

Haridy adds: ”Making podcasts gives us the freedom to talk about whatever we want to. We are not beholden to any formula in a radio environment – recently, Luke spoke to a taxi driver about films. We’ve learnt to make the show tighter, as well as more casual … We are creating the type of show we want. We ended up discovering our own formula.”

Haridy’s favourite podcasts include Hell Is for Hyphenates, a local film podcast; Doug Loves Movies; and This American Life.

They record using a Zoom H2N portable recorder. ”We put it on a table between us. This allows us to be more casual and not be worried about holding mics a certain distance away,” Haridy says. ”We record in chunks. We record the intro and outro separately. We review a film and then stop. I then take all the little bits and make it into a show. I edit it with Pro Tools, adding in soundtracks from movies.”

Over at 3RRR, human rights lawyer Ben Schokman has been producing a fortnightly podcast, Right Now Radio, for more than four years. His guests range from barrister and human rights activist Julian Burnside to people who work in the community.

”Podcasts are a way of getting the human rights message to reach new and different audiences than we normally would as human rights lawyers,” Schokman says. ”Podcasting is also a good experience for us to be better communicators – to deliver messages other than writing detailed legal documents.”

The two co-hosts record in the 3RRR studio, and individual reporters use a mix of hand-held recorders away from the studio. The podcast is edited using Audacity (audacity.sourceforge上海夜网).

Endlessly talking sport in the pub with mates in 2005 led soccer fanatic Chris Knowles to make the podcast A Game of Two Halves.

”We record our conversations on Skype, as all of us are never in the same room,” Knowles says.

He also runs Melbourne Podcast Meetup, supporting podcasters since 2011.

”We used to meet in a pub and talk, but now we make it more practical and get people in to speak to us,” he says.

Past speakers include a radio documentary producer, a sound engineer, and a solo sailor who spoke about how he managed to publish a podcast while sailing across the ocean.

”People also come to the meet-ups for help on the technical side,” Knowles says. ”Understanding the equipment is one of the myths of podcasting. It’s actually easy to do. The content is the key, not the equipment. If the content is dull, it doesn’t matter how good the quality of your podcast is.”

Knowles is disappointed that there is no YouTube-type equivalent for podcasts. ”There is no slick, free tool for podcast distribution.”

Podcast tips

1. Before recording, listen to a few podcasts to get an idea of the good, the bad and the ugly. Look at some podcast reviews and rankings, for example: 52podcasts上海夜网m; podfeed上海夜网/feedburner_rankings.asp; podcastpickle上海夜网m.

2. Have something interesting to say. Prepare an outline and some dot points, and then pretend that you are talking to your friends.

3. Prepare interview questions. Remember not to hog the limelight when interviewing.

4. Edit out the ums and ahs, as well as the boring bits. Add some music and sound.

5. Have a web page, Facebook or Twitter account so your listeners can interact between podcasts, and you can post updates.

LINKS

■ meetup上海夜网m/Melbourne-Podcast-Meetup-Group

■ libsyn上海夜网m

■ podcastingnews上海夜网m/topics/Podcasting_Software.html

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Monsters excite TV sellers

Big televisions measuring 140 centimetres and more have become the bright spot of a struggling industry. Nobody in the supply chain makes much money on tellies but the margins are best at the big end.
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Buyers like big televisions too. According to industry research company GfK, in the last quarter of 2012 it’s what 15 per cent of buyers chose. This is one reason we’re seeing the emergence of monsters as big as four 106-centimetre screens stacked two-by-two. They’re almost as big as projection systems but a brighter and sharper. And they’re certainly more flexible and less finicky to operate.

But they cost a lot. One can’t help thinking that their prices reflect the manufacturers’ desperation to make televisions profitable again.

One retailer we visited was giving just $1 change out of $20,000 on Sharp’s 229-centimetre Aquos. Compare that with the 178-centimetre Aquos, by no means a small screen, that he’d priced at $3488.

The most breathtaking of these monsters are the ultra-high-definition (UHD) models from Sony and LG. In any comparison they trounce the full high-definition models around them. Both 213 centimetres, the LG is $15,999 and the Sony $24,999. We can’t see the extra $9000 in the Sony.

Before embracing UHD, pause and consider: First, it looks best playing UHD software through a UHD source unit. UHD software hardly exists, UHD broadcasts don’t exist; at least not here yet. But they’ll bump your current viewing up a notch or two. While impressive, this still doesn’t work the screen to full capacity.

Second, UHD is presented with giant screens because with anything less than 140 to 150 centimetres, you won’t notice much difference anyway.

Third, if you want a monster screen, you’ll need a monster room. Installers suggest the ideal viewing distance for such screens is at least four metres. Most people sit about three metres from their screen. Salespeople impress customers by pointing out that UHD screen definition is brilliant even close-up, whereas at that distance from a conventional screen, you can pick the pixels. True enough, but get back from the conventional TV to where you’d sit and this screen-door effect disappears anyway.

LG 84LM9600213-centimetre ultra-high-definitionSpotted for $15,990It’s not just large, it has the works — passive 3D, two-player gaming, BigPond Movies, a gesture-control remote, you name it. The picture resolution is nothing short of jaw-dropping; it comprehensively outperforms other televisions and projection systems of similar cost. It’s also good-looking, with slim cabinet borders and a chromed stand. At 70 kilograms, wall mounting is probably best. 192 x 112 x 4 centimetres (WxHxD).

Sharp LC90LE740X229-centimetre full high-definitionSpotted for $19,999This is the biggest LCD screen on the market and it’s a ripper, and feature packed with 3D, Skype and lots else. It’s as big as many projection systems but far brighter and sharper — which it should be, for the price, especially up against the LG UHD. Yet side by side and showing the same non-UHD content, there isn’t a lot between these two, especially at a comfortable viewing distance. 205 x 121 x 12 centimetres (WxHxD), 64 kilograms.

Samsung ES9000191-centimetre full high-definitionSpotted for $8999We saw this at two stores: one had it playing a Samsung demonstration disc that did the picture quality no favours, while the other (priced at $9499) had it on an animated movie that looked great — but animations look good on any screen. This is the bargain of the monster screens and it’s also the best-looking, but the picture doesn’t stack up. It is fully featured, however, including 3D, Skype, and inbuilt wireless. 168 x 98 x 3.6 centimetres (WxHxD), 44 kilograms.

VerdictFor sheer picture quality, the LG is sensational. For size, the Sharp stands alone. And the picture’s very good. The Samsung? If you’re into saving money, why not get a 178-centimetre Sharp? It may be smaller, but you’ll save more than $5000 and the picture is better. But no matter what you buy, to do it justice you’ll need a good external speaker system.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Continue reading

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