My window to the world


China launches Nigerian satellite

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-May-2007 22:59

According to the BBC, China has launched a Nigerian satellite, to provide broadcasting and broadband services to African nations.

How many more 419 scam e-mails will be landing in your inbox from now on?





A killer application for mobile: aangel

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-May-2007 22:35

I first saw and used Aangel in May 2004. You can read my brief review with a couple of screenshots, published back then.

In short it's a service that allows you to call a number from your mobile phone, dictate a task, reminder, contact details or appointment and have the information sent to your mobile as a SMS - and the SMS can also come as a vcal or vcard attachment so it's automatically entered on your phone's database. You also receive an e-mail with a wave file and your recording, for the records.

Just now I read that Jott has received some funding. Jott seems to be very similar to aangel, except that it doesn't seem to send the SMS, but it allows jotted messages to be sent to yourself, or to a group.

Aangel is just another example of mobile services that are developed outside the U.S. but are not known outside their original market.

I first noticed Jott on Scobble's "Killer app for cell phones: Jott" post.

By the way, I hear Aangel is in negotiations with Telecom New Zealand. They currently offer the service only to Vodafone customers, but they may extend access to the service to Telecom users as well. Stay tuned.




Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta exclusive shots

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-May-2007 15:20

The Xbox Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta is not starting for another couple of days, but I was invited for a sneak peek preview of this new game, and below are some photographs of Microsoft's Xbox 360 Lounge setup.

First some informaton on this beta. Players will have access to Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta from Wednesday 16 May 2007 5am PDT through 6 June 2007 11:59 PM PDT.

The Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta will only work on Xbox Live and only allows Matchmaking play. You will not be able to play any custom of offline games.

The following will be included in the Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta:

- Three new multiplayer maps: Snowbound, High Ground and Valhalla;

- New weapons sch as the Magnum M6G Pistol, Assault Rifle MA5C ICWS, Brute Spiker Type 25 Carbine, Spike Grenades, Spartan Laser WAV M6 GGNR, Machinegun Turret AIE 486H HMG and Missile Pods (you can see some of the guns in my previous post);

- The Mongoose M274 ULATV is a fast two-man ATM for transport across the battlefield and while it doesn't come with any weaponry the passenger is free to use any equipped weapons;

- Several new equipments such as the Bubble Shield, Portable Grav Lift, Trip Mine and Energy Drainer;

- Improved Matchmaking and Party System;

- After each multiplayer game players will be able to save a film of their last match and watch it locally or upload it. While this is limited to a first person real-time playback only during the beta, the final version will allow full control of the camera. The Save Film option can be played back on HD 1080p and Dolby Digital 5.1. A long game may use about 6 MB of space and Microsoft is making 25 MB available during the beta.

The download is about 900 MB and wll be available from the Marketplace if you have a beta code, or through the Downloads section when you insert the Crackdown game.

A new Party Up feature allows games to vote and party up at the end of each game, so they can continue to play as a single party in future games.

Below are some pictures I snapped during the session today:



















I also managed to take a couple of pictures of the upcoming Halo 2 for Windows Vista:






All very exciting, but I am really waiting for Shadowrun for Windows Vista, which will allow PC gamers to interact and play against and with people online on Xbox Live.




Halo 3 screenshots

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-May-2007 16:58

Just after I posted about my upcoming trip for the exclusive preview of Halo 3 beta, I found the Halo 3 beta press pack... Here are a few images from that archive:






















Xero IPO

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-May-2007 10:51

The guys at Xero are announcing their IPO in the NZX. The offer opens this Monday 14 May, closing at the end of the month. The listing date is 5 June 2007. All information and investors' prospectus are available now.

Xero is accounting with web 2.0 technologies. Think of an on-line accounting package full of Ajax, flash charts, moving timelines, integration with banking systems and more technology goodness.

Rod Drury did a demo during the Kiwi Foo Camp and since then launched an open beta. I've joined the service which is aimed at small and medium business companies and individuals, with plans to launch in the UK pretty soon as well.

At the Kiwi Foo Camp we were also told about the new offline features coming in Mozilla 3.0 and that got Rod thinking about new future features for Xero.

Xero is another example of kiwi technical abilities, and was developed here in Wellington.



Xbox 360: Halo 3 preview coming soon

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-May-2007 19:15

I've got an invitation to visit the Microsoft offices in Auckland this Monday 14 May, for an exclusive sneak peek at HALO 3 beta in their Xbox 360 Lounge.

The beta officially opens 17 May, for people who bought the Crackdown game with the beta key. HALO3 beta will be available for download from Xbox LIVE.

This is the invitation I received:


This preview is only available on Monday 14 May so it will be a great opportunity for us to have a look at this. I will try to bring some pictures to the blog.



TelstraClear answers to the metering fault with cable modem service

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-May-2007 10:06

Regarding my post yesterday, about my surprise with an e-mail from my cable modem provider TelstraClear charging my connection to 15TB traffic, here is an e-mail from TelstraClear received this morning:


Please be reassured that customers will not be billed, via direct debit or otherwise, for the fault yesterday with the usage meter.

We are sending an e-mail out to all customers affected within the next 24 hours explaining the issue we had with the usage e-mail, reassuring them that they won't be billed for this and apologising for any inconvenience.


This is the official communication and I can only assume this is how it will happen.

The issue affected almost everyone using the cable modem service - there were cases of people going home to turn the modem off, fearing their connections were hacked and someone was using it to distribute software or download content over their wireless routers. A long discussion is evolving in our Geekzone forums.






Vodafone pit stop

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-May-2007 15:20

A cursory look in our Geekzone forums might reveal some users disgruntled at the way Vodafone New Zealand's current billing system works.

People complain about not being able to cancel services, change account settings and more importantly, they complain about the apparent "preference" Vodafone gives to Prepay users when offering specials not available to On Account users.

Some time ago we published a Q&A with Vodafone New Zealand CEO Russell Stanners, but the answers did not clarify much on this aspect.

It seems Vodafone New Zealand is now changing their billing systems, and has declared a pit-stop. I haven't seem any advertising on TV, but they have a webpage with information on this transition. And you better be prepared: there are lots of things you won't be able to do during the transition period.

For example you won't be able get an accurate account balance. According to Vodafone New Zealand, you’ll still be able to access your account balance, bundle balance and data details but during the changeover period these will not be up to date.

This includes information you gather by calling their customer services, using SMS or even on-line. Their recommendation? check your account before 17 May and then monitor your usage during the changeover period. Mind you, call detail information (eg, Vodafone to Vodafone calls, off-peak and on-peak calling, etc.) will be unavailable during the changeover period.

So be careful there. Any dispute is going to be your word against their word. Not good, uh?

You also will be unable to change your existing Vodafone plan, or add/remove/change Add-Ons to your plan or talkZone group during a smaller period.

Vodafone says they are even unable to activate/deactivate roaming during this time.

But more importantly, new connections connections can be added to your account but there will be delays in doing this.

Still according to the site, there are some changes to your account that you won’t be able to make on-line via ‘Manage Your Account’ (MYA) during this period. After this time, there will be a 5-day turnaround period for some changes via MYA.

The periods covered are from 17 May throgh end of June... A long time and I expect to see even more disgruntled customers...

Make sure you read the information about this transition period.



I didn't use 15,800 GB today... But TelstraClear says it so

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-May-2007 12:33

I've just received an e-mail from TelstraClear saying I've used 7,891 additional blocks of data. Each additional block is 2GB, meaning they believe I've used about 15,800 GB in a single day - according to their meter. I couldn't be bothered checking the math since this is obviously wrong any way.

Since each additional usage blocks are charged at $2.95, their stats page says I owe them about $23,280 in excess usage:



I posted in our Geekzone forums and found I am not alone... Currently I am waiting for someone to answer my call...


UPDATE: I've managed to talk to the TCL help desk and they are aware of this. The official word is that this will not be charged to people's accounts.

UPDATE: I have received an e-mail from TelstraClear clarifying the situation and explaining the next steps.



Summer of Code 2.0

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-May-2007 11:33

Hey, I've just looked at the Summer of Code 2.0, and I can see our Geekzone logo there now, with other companies such as ProjectX, Trade Me, PlanHQ, Silverstripe, Hirethings.com, Xero, Sisu Software, Provoke, Innaworks and Spikefin.



Summer of Code 2.0 is an internship programme that gives Computer Science and Engineering students the opportunity to work in cool Tech companies over the summer. Students will gain on the job experience, get paid and learn from the best minds in the business about their knowledge on cutting edge technologies such as:

  • Working in a Start-up
  • High Volume Databases
  • Distributed Computing.
  • Mobile Development
  • Ruby on Rails

Last year Summer of Code 2.0 was the biggest employer of IT students in Wellington. And now it's back bigger and better in'07.



That's cool... We have lots of plans for Geekzone, and come Summer you too can be part of the work here. Check the Summer of Code 2.0 website for more information.




freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


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

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

Subscribe now to my blog RSS feed or the Geekzone RSS feed.

If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me freitasm@geekzone.co.nz. 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.

Here's is my full disclosure post.

If you'd like to help me keep Geekzone going, please use this Geekzone Amazon affiliate link when placing any orders on Amazon.



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