Orewa College has on its website an 1800-word FAQ justifying its instruction that from 2012 all year nine students should have a "one to one computing device and our preference for that device is an Apple iPad 2".

Despite its length, the question and answer document fails to make its case, although there is interesting reading along the way. Fuddy duddies will be pleased to know, for instance, that "the physical act of writing will still be part of teaching and learning at Orewa College". How square is that?

Objections have been raised on the grounds that the iPad 2's $800 cost may be beyond many of the school's nearly 2000 pupils. But read to the end and you'll learn that "we have enclosed information on purchasing options from Cyclone Computers" at $10 a week. There's even a helpful email link to marym@cyclone.co.nz.

The college presumably has parent groups that take an interest in the school. They are in a position to get together and refuse this ridiculous instruction.

The iPad itself doesn't do much - for anything useful you have to buy and download numerous apps. It's not even an ebook reader for most formats, you need another app for that. With an awkward keyboard, it is hopeless for writing on at any length. When working outside areas with free wi-fi, which students will often be doing, it runs the risk of incurring high download fees. Like all Apple products it won't have anything to do with the widely used Flash format. Most absurdly, it will not connect to anything. It doesn't even have a USB port, although, of course, you can buy an adapter for that.

Orewa College parents - and their children - should reject this move not because it will divide the pupils into haves and have nots, but because the iPad2 is a lousy educational tool.

Incidentally, any school that uses the phrase "one to one computing device" instead of "computer" should be brought to the attention of the Education Review Office.

THE PRIVACY Commissioner, Marie Shroff, reported this week that her office received a significant number of complaints about the NZ Post Lifestyle Survey. That number was 20. The survey collects data which the Post Office will sell to advertisers to use in direct mail campaigns. In this way it hopes to make itself useful and stave off extinction for a few more years.

The survey could not be more transparent. Its third line points out, in bold type, that it is voluntary. There are two more references to this on the front page. Participants are told they can leave blank any question they don't want to answer. Another 14 lines explain that, yes, the data will be sold for mailing lists. Short of saying "Please don't complete this survey" it's hard to know what else NZ Post could have done to allay concerns.

In a letter to the organisation's boss, Brian Roche, Shroff is concerned that the survey uses "a competition designed to entice New Zealanders to participate". You can hear the sneer in that "entice" from the page.

Shroff gives the commission and its important work a bad name with the anti-PC brigade by indulging trivial complaints.

If anyone can read all the survey warnings and still feel their privacy is under attack then, at best, they have a literacy problem and, at worst, they belong to that increasingly large number of people who live to be offended and make official complaints about it.

Ironically, I suspect many are the same people who will be conducting snivelling protest vigils outside post office branches as one by one they are closed.

IF DIPLOMATIC relations with Israel continue to improve as they have recently, perhaps next time that Government sends spies here we will get proper ones - rather than the hapless stumblebums we've had the last couple of times.