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 Software Piracy

It's Best To Avoid It At All Costs

Like electronic identity theft, computer viruses, and the spread of other computer crimes, software piracy is on the rise. The problem with software piracy is that software costs make this illegal activity appealing to the end user. After all, who is it going to hurt? Rich software companies?? This article investigates software piracy as a whole and the impact that it has on the computer using industry.

The most vulnerable victims of software piracy are software businesses or independent programmers who create and distribute commercial software or shareware. We described shareware in another article, but because both commercial software and shareware require payment, they're the target of pirates who seek to make these kinds of programs free to use. 

Depending on their binding legal agreements, licensing typically allows the use of a single program on a single computer. This set up is usually fine for a user who uses software at home on one computer. But in an environment where there are five, ten, twenty or more computers, buying a license for each computer can be down-right costly. So costly that the temptation to pirate a little software here and there can be pretty tempting.

Co-workers are familiar with this temptation and they're often the ones who "share" purchased software among those who need it. However the same temptation also prompts others to knowingly or unknowingly buy bootleg copies of commercial software or registered shareware.  

As tempting as it is, it's still illegal and the punishments/fines for sharing commercial or registered software is too much for one to bear. In recent news, "Yahoo China loses music piracy case (AP via Yahoo! News) A court has ordered Yahoo Inc.'s China subsidiary to pay $27,000 for aiding music piracy, the company and a music industry group said Tuesday."1 Additionally, "EU lawmakers approve prison terms, fines for major commercial piracy (International Herald Tribune) EU lawmakers voted Wednesday for legislation that would set prison sentences and fines for large-scale commercial piracy, but exempt patents and copying carried out for personal use." 2

Fortunately, there are alternatives. Schools can research student versions of commercial software or ask for a school discount. Just because school rates aren't advertised, it doesn't mean that they aren't available.  Freeware or open source software (also described in another one of our articles) is another alternative to pirating commercial-ware, as well as shareware. And using older versions of programs could additionally reduce the costs associated with commercial versions.

Up until recently, public opinion held little faith in freeware or open source software - often regarding it as low-quality knock-off's of better known commercial products. But if you take a good look at what's being offered at no cost, you may be in for a big surprise. The quality of today's freeware and open source software created a strong rift among the commercial community and it's literally driving the competition bananas! So much so, that even some well known software development corporations have joined the cause and built a few freeware open source products of their own!

If you can remember that there are hoards of alternatives to costly commercial software (and you make the effort to get it), you'll discover that you can keep up with the rest of the computer industry at a significantly cheaper cost than if you attempted to pay your way down the software aisle. Software piracy just isn't the answer. 

 The latest in iPods – iPod video

IPods have been a great market hit since their appearance in 2001, almost 5 years ago. Since listening to music is one of the favorite activities of today’s individuals, the constant evolution of this device was an important request, so the new product presented a diverse range of new features, accessories and capacities. The iPod evolved from a simple and basic music player to a sum of music player, recorder, and photo viewer and now to a both music and video device. 

The most important new feature of the latest generation of iPods, meaning the 5th generation, is the video. Basically, these inventive and technologically advanced, yet small devices support both MPEG-4 and H.264 videos at significantly high resolutions, which are not far from a VSH tape. Actually, in more precise terms, the H.264 codec can play video at frame rates up to 30 frames per second, video bit rates as high as 768 kilobits per second and pictures as big as 320 pixels wide by 240 pixels high. Comparing the iPod video with the TV 27 FPS or the movies 24 FPS, it is obvious that the small device it is much better. Regarding the audio qualities, comparing to a CD quality, the iPod video is superior. On the other hand, the MPEG-4 video supports a bit rate of 2,500 kilobits per second and pictures as big as 480 pixels wide by 480 pixels high, meaning three times the size of the actual screen (in comparison with the H.264 video, which supports pictures the same size as the screen pf the iPod). 

The reviews on this item are so far, excellent – the quality of the motion images is great, with almost perfect colors, even when the device is connected to a TV set in order to watch a video. Even more, watching the videos on the actual iPod is possible due to a larger screen, which also allows the high visibility of sharp texts and photos. Still, even though the battery is claimed to last around 20 hours, which is an evolution since the last iPod model, the battery is much rapidly consumed when watching videos. 

The range of improvements since the last model of iPod is impressive: the new video iPod comes with a new design, but in the same black and white colors and with a new set of accessories, which range from world clock, smaller earphones and a thinner slipcase to AC adapter and FireWire cable. Concerning the new package design, the iPod video comes with a new look: the box is flat and in a square shape; the color of the new box is black with silver accents, such as the Apple logo and the text. 

The latest generation of iPods surprised the market in many ways: from the video capacities to the other improved features since the last model in 2005 and from the design and package changes to the wide and evolved range of accessories that are available together with the new iPod video. The evolution of the iPod shows an increased interest in constantly developing this device and always considering the needs and desires of the consumer. It is expected that the next generation of iPods to be even more optimized, with a lot of changes in the video settings and a longer capacity of the battery when watching videos. 

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