My window to the world

Linkblog update - now with RSS feed

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Jul-2007 10:27

When I first announced my linkblog some of you asked for a RSS feed. Thanks to the folks at Newsgator I now managed to get my Shared Clips available without a password (public), making it easier to "burn" it through FeedBurner.

So, if you want to get a piece of my RSS action, check my linkblog and subscribe to its RSS feed.

New Zealand Coffee Festival and the Battles of the Baristas

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Jun-2007 15:07

This is not technology related, but since I am really fan of a good espresso coffee, here it goes... I received this press release today:

The New Zealand Coffee Festival and the Battles of the Baristas

The 4th annual New Zealand Coffee Festival ( gets underway at the Alinghi Base on the Viaduct Harbour from August 17-19 with the biggest battles of the baristas the country has ever seen.

Baristas from throughout the country will be seeking to become the inaugural winner of the EQUAL New Zealand Latte Art Championships, plus take away a prize of $2,000.

Plus the Australian barista team, The Baristaroos will be back to take on The Black Cups in the Da Vinci Trans Tasman Barista Challenge with a $4000 prize to the winning three-person team. The final challenge of this annual event will be held at the AHA Hospitality Fair in Adelaide in October when the winning team will be announced. Captain of the New Zealand team is Christchurch barista Carl Sara (pic centre) who is New Zealand barista champion and who is competing in the World Barista Championships in Tokyo this year. Other members are Luciano Marcolino (pic left), also of Christchurch, and David Huang of Auckland (pic at right) with Black Cups Manager Chris White of Auckland, an accredited World Barista Championships judge.

Coffee lovers will be able to enjoy three days of coffee tasting at many of the nearly 50 stands set up at the Alinghi Base featuring New Zealand coffee roasters and coffee companies. There is also food, wine, music, and the latest coffee machines and coffee-related products for sale.

In the EQUAL New Zealand Latte Art Championships, the festival's feature event, 30 of the country's best baristas will compete before a team of judges to make the best coffee-to-go based on taste, speed of preparation and latte art. 

According to Festival Director Michael Guy, this year's Latte Art Championships would be a test run before an application is made to the World Latte Art Championships, run by the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe, for New Zealand to include a competitor.

Also judged at the festival will be freshly roasted coffees from New Zealand's coffee roasters. A team of New Zealand and international judges taste the roasted coffees and award Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, plus a Supreme Award for the highest-scoring individual coffee blend. Last year's big winners were Orb Coffee which won the Supreme Award, while boutique roastery Altezano based in Mt Eden was also a big medal winner.

"The support for this year's festival has been terrific," says Festival Director Michael Guy. "After two years in Taupo and then last year's festival at North Harbour Stadium it's great to bring this event into the heart of Auckland."

Picture from the Coffee Festival website...

Dance, Monkeys. Dance

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Jun-2007 12:03

If you think "what are we doing here", this video is a must see...

Have a good Sunday!

Engrish takes the streets

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-May-2007 12:13

A light humour post for today... One of the funniest sites on the Internet is Today I've sent this picture as my contribution to that site:

This is in the back of a MR2 and says:

Nature sporty professional
More innovation more adult
A man in dandism
Powered midship specialty


Fairfax: the mistake is fixed

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-May-2007 11:45

This is an update on an early post of mine regarding Fairfax's The Independent Financial Review subscription problems.

I've received a phone call from The Independent and I was told that the person doing the subscription updates made a mistake. They genuinely believe (and so do I) it was an honest mistake because the person wasn't receiving any commision on subscribers' renewal.

Since I wrote a full post about the incident, it's only fair I write another full post about their process, contact and the (valid) apology.

Subway: share your $4 drink and go to prison

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-May-2007 08:33

I don't like Subway anyway. The food doesn't taste great. And now they go around calling the police when one of their employees share a cup of soda:

About two weeks after she was fired, police charged her with the theft of two cups of Coke valued at $4. She will appear in Dunedin District Court this month.

Security video footage of the incident shows Lang sharing the drink with her friend, then refilling the cup and leaving it on the table when she returned to work.

"Most people wouldn't be fired and put in a police cell for two hours for sharing a drink."

In a letter addressed to Lang, the directors said she had given the drink to a friend without payment and that was considered "serious misconduct" and a breach of their "trust and fidelity".

Fidelity? Way to go to destroy employee fidelity, Subway.

I am sure the $4 cup of soda impacted your business in New Zealand a lot. Couldn't the company just charge the $4 to the employee's account?

And when we need police action in so many more important cases, I appreciate the time and effort you asked the New Zealand police to put into this "investigation".

Fairfax: stop your shonky telemarketer practices

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-May-2007 11:04

A few months back I attended a seminar here in Wellington. Fairfax, the owner of local newspaper Dominion Post plus local IDG titles such as PC World and Computerworld, were giving away a free three month subscription to The Independent Financial Review.

I got one. I received the newspaper for three months and decided it wasn't something I was reading from cover to cover.

So, when it came the time to renew the subscription (or actually subscribe to it since those three months were free) I got a phone call from someone in the subscription department asking if I wanted to change to a paid subscription. I replied, very clearly, that I wasn't interested.

Today I got a Tax Invoice/Statement in the mail, charging me $165.60 for a new subscription. And that's with a 50% savings!

I clearly said I DON'T WANT IT. Don't send me unwanted invoices. It smells like those domain name scams where people receive fake invoices for a domain name they don't own.

Is it hard to understand I DON'T WANT IT, Fairfax?

And no, I won't even link to their publications in this post. They don't deserve Google juice.

UPDATE: I've received an explanation for this and wrote about it.

Geeks make better lovers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Apr-2007 13:11

Small world

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Mar-2007 20:13

This is a small world... I had a stop in San Francisco on my way to Seattle to attend the Microsoft MVP Summit. While walking down, talking on the smartphone and checking e-mails on my Pocket PC I bumped into Nic Wise and wife Leoni.

No, they are not coming to the summit. It just happened that they were disembarking a plane from Madison (Wisconsin), for a short stay in San Francisco before heading to New Zealand. Pure coincidence in time and location. A few seconds before or after we would miss each other...

Another coincidence? Tonight Nick Randolph joined us for dinner in Seattle. He told me his flight from Perth to Los Angeles had a stop in Auckland (New Zealand) and I found he was on that loooong queue I saw in front of the QANTAS gate! We were in the Auckland airport at the same time, unbeknown to each other. I probably walked past him just a few meters away!

Small world...

I had a few hours in San Francisco, so I met an old Brazilian friend for brunch. Great weather, nice food. Flying out of San Francisco to Seattle though and everything changed. Snowy caps in Oregon, and clouds over Seattle. Raining here (no news), but not colder than Wellington on a rainy day.

Also, what's the problem with Air New Zealand? I bought my tickets to Seattle three months ago, and my profile says "aisle seats". When I checked in (and I did so in Wellington, which means a good four hours before the Auckland crowd) they didn't have any aisle seats available anymore.

The food was good though (in Premium Economy), and the wine too. The service was great (unlike the Trans-Tasman routes).

Air New Zealand services

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Mar-2007 09:25

Air New Zealand is always surprising us... You see, I am from a time when flying, even on a 45 minute domestic flight, involved some food and drinks (including soft drinks, alcoholic ones).

Some time ago, for almost two years I had to fly twice a week, every week, and I couldn't complain about the TAM service. The hot breakfast was great, attention was in the details. But I know they have changed ways from fifteen years ago.

Same with Air New Zealand. They used to have nice hot food on domestic flights. Lately they replaced food with a (single) choc chip and water. Wow... Great stuff. They could have left the coke. Even in the U.S. with all cost cuts the arilines at least continue serving free soft drink (and paid alcohol).

Now I read on NZ Herald that

The free biscuit - one of the great traditions of flying on Air New Zealand's main domestic routes - is on the way out.

The national carrier has decided to axe the free chocolate chip cookie in favour of charging for a range of costly inflight snacks.

From Monday, passengers must pay or go hungry on all 737 aircraft, which fly main routes between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and Dunedin.

The free biscuit is a "great tradition[s] of flying on Air New Zealand"? Please... And now they will be serving overpriced food, supplied by a Wellington catering company.

What happened to "tradition"? No, I am not talking about the biscuit, that was just a cheap replacement to some (decent) food.

Air New Zealand flights over the Tasman to Australia have on-board service, including the food and drinks we would expect. But the food in coach is horrible. The "gourmet hashbrown breakfast" is something that is far away from gourmet, from hashbrown and from breakfast. The best I could have in the last three weeks was a toasted foccacia with cheese and ham.

I was in coach class in the last three out of four flights, and the difference between the food (and service) on business and coach is very visible.

And what about the decision to keep using metal forks, but replacing the knives with plastic ones. Where this very intelligent decision came from? I mean, the metal table knives, with no sharp points is replaced with a plastic table knife with no sharp points, but they keep the metal forks. Do they really think forks are no more dangerous than those blunt knives? Too much paranoia.

UPDATE: You should go and read Lance's take on this. Quite good.

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Mauricio Freitas
New Zealand

I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums.

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If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

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