Weekly News Roundup (9 March 2014)

I don’t get to talk about coffee much here in the WNR, mainly because I’m not a huge consumer of it. I do have a Nespresso machine, one that I bought for a single cent during a sales event at an Australian daily sale website, and I have been buying “compatible” pods for it. I’ve always wondered why Nestle didn’t put DRM into their pods as to prevent the use of compatibles, but I suspect a fair segment of their customer base are far too pretentious to even think about using compatible pods. I’m looking at you George Clooney!

(just kidding, Clooney is awesome)


I occasionally buy Blu-rays from the UK (and by occasionally, I mean all the time), and one thing I’ve noticed is that the anti-piracy message has softened a lot since the days of “you wouldn’t download a car” (I would if I could!). For example, Universal has a “Thank-you” message on its UK Blu-rays that thanks the viewer for not pirating. A nice and positive message that I think plays much better than accusations of criminal activity (and false accusations too, at people who have already paid for the movie).

So it turns out that this wasn’t accidental, but was the result of extensive research on having the most effective anti-piracy message. The same research may have also included the fact that some of the biggest pirates are also the movie industry’s best customers. And for the first time that I can remember, a British anti-piracy group has openly admitted this fact.

And its new anti-piracy will focus on the positive viewing experience of going to the movies and asks users to pay for a little bit more and pirate a little less, asking instead of demanding. I’ve always said that going to the movies has no equal experience wise, not even if you have an uber home theater set up, and so placing more focus on the uniqueness of going to the movies is a good idea. Not treating potential customers as criminals is also a bit more productive, I think.

Keurig 2.0

Keurig’s new coffeemaker will incorporate advanced tagging technology to prevent unlicensed compatible pods from being used

Not treating your customers like cash machines is also a good way to run a business, and as someone who just spent another $70 buying ink refills for a $200 printer, I can relate. Unfortunately, the coffee pod business, already using the same business model of cheap machines vs expensive refills, is borrowing another trick: DRM’d pods.

Well, it’s not strictly a DRM since there are no digital rights being managed. Instead, it’s your coffee drinking rights that is being messed around with, by denying cheap compatible pods from being used. But in the same way you can’t use non-official game discs in your Xbox 360, this system does the same with coffee pods, and so it is the same form of licensing control. Makers of compatible pods will call it anti-competitive, and consumers will be worse off because there will be less choice and higher prices, but this sounds like the kind of thing that will eventually end up in court, especially if a competitor tries to break the authentication.

The makers of this new coffee machine and pods explains the use of the authentication, which consists of a proprietary “taggant material” on the pods (something akin to an RFID tag, I suppose) and a camera that scans this in the machine, is “critical for performance and safety reasons”. The same reason why you should never use compatible ink cartridges because they’re lower in performance and could damage your printer – according to the printer companies, that is.

High Definition

In case you haven’t gotten sick of hearing me talk about  my new Australian website Streambly, I’m going to talk about it some more. With good reason this time, as it turns out I’m one of 200,000 that subscribes to Netflix here in Australia, courtesy of a geo-unblocker (but I’m guessing I’m one of the few who has created a website telling the 20,000 others who have read my Netflix guide so far on how to do it).


Australians are enjoying Netflix in their homes without Netflix actually being available in Australia (and obviously also in not as nice homes, compared to the one in the picture above)

The apparent popularity of a service that isn’t technically available here has our TV networks, and local Netflix wannabes, in a twist. The “P” word (erm, “pirates”, in case you’re not sure) has already been used to describe those that sign up to Netflix here, despite our previous Attorney General specifically stating that using VPNs to access Netflix isn’t considered infringement under current copyright laws.

I can understand their fears and frustration. Here’s a $7.99 per month service that gives you thousands of movies and TV shows, and it’s up against local TV networks that often air new episodes a year after their original broadcast in the U.S (if they air them at all), and a local video streaming service that perhaps only has 10% of the content on offer from Netflix. With catch-up services ranging from non existent to poor, there’s no Hulu or Hulu Plus equivalent here either. All we have is a single cable TV provider that has a market monopoly and is willing to use its market position to get exclusivity to shows like Game of Thrones. No competition. No value. Sometimes just ‘no’, in terms of legal streaming or download options. Yep, I can understand why they fear Netflix.

Adapt, Evolve, Compete or Die. It’s their choice!

Finish, Writing, Play Games or Be Bored. That’s my choice. See you next week.


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