An AT&T employee who works on Operations tells us that the carrier ordered a last-minute beefing up of its EDGE throughput, latency and coverage in anticipation of the iPhone. The operation, internally referenced as "Fine Edge" will continue until June 15th, and has been going on for as many as 6 weeks.
EDGE is slow, but at least at AT&T, the implementation isn't limited by the protocol itself. Rather, the limiting factor is, according to our source, the data backend and the way the towers are configured to allocate bandwidth to data and calls. And according to an internal doc, they're dropping in more T-1s in their poorest performing towers, hoping to get that paltry 40kbps performance to a new minimum of 80kpbs. (EDGE's real world max is about 200kbps.) That's still painfully slow, but we're not ones to look a gift WWAN upgrade in the mouth.
Hmmm. Isn't this the same problem that Vodafone New Zealand is facing? Good HSDPA infrastructure (up to 7.2 Mbps in some places), but a backhaul providing poor performance overall? Or are these just the rumours I hear?
UPDATE: Verizon Wireless (which Vodafone PLC is one of the major shareholders) has upgraded 100% of its U.S. network to CDMA EV-DO Rev A - which leaves any EDGE network in the dust, by a factor of ten. Competition is good...
It's obviously an air guitar solo, right?
Their loss. Let's use AOL's Xdrive instead. It offers up to 5 GB free, instead of 500 MB of Windows Live Folders.
UPDATE: To access the Windows Live Folders with US English directly use this link.
This setup is an example of a small NGES deployment, and of course most individual users will end up using the web-based NewsGator service, which can also be used with FeedDemon.
What I wanted to do
Last month I learned about FeedDemon 2.5 and a new feature that allows synchronising clipping folders with the NGES. Clipping folders are special folders where you can drag-and-drop RSS items to share with other users within your organisation for example.
I immediately thought this would be great for creating a linkblog here on Geekzone - but I didn't know how much work that would involve. At the end it worked, and here are some of my findings through the process.
Things I had to do to get there
First, FeedDemon 2.5 requires NGES 2.0 and up - and I was running NGES 1.4. So I had to update that, which required updating my Microsoft SQL 2000 database software to the newer Microsoft SQL 2005 version. Not impossible, and actually it took absolutely no time.
After the installation - which simply updated my current NGES database, so nothing wasn't lost, I found that the stock FeedDemon 2.5 is not actually ready for NGES, so I had to run a FeedDemon 2.5 beta software.
I initially had Beta 1 installed, and I am currently running Beta 4, which is much better and stable - including fixes for some problems I've found with FeedDemon 2.0 in my previous installation.
Some new features
NGES 2.0 introduces a lot of features and before explaining how I got to my linkblog, I will post some screenshots:
User features: mark as read, flag post, save to clippings, forward via e-mail, tag, rate
Inside your organisation you will be able to share attention data between users - and extract a lot of information about the feeds in use. The new reporting feature is great for IT admins, people managing attention data within the organisation and marketing specialists "managing" your company's presence on the Internet.
The new version allows tagging, and automatically creates tags from articles downloaded to the server. It also allows users to add tags to articles, and clip those to shared areas.
It also makes heavy use of AJAX, causing the NGES homepage to load slowly at first - I recommend you keep the page always loaded, since it refreshs automatically. I also noticed that Firefox seems to perform a little bit better than Internet Explorer 7 - albeit I had not taken any formal timings in the process. As usual, your mileage may vary in this case.
The software is not completely bug free though. I've noticed a problem found in NGES 1.0, fixed with NGES 1.4 was back with NGES 2.0: the folder counters in the mobile location are completely wrong. I've reported this to support and something is going to be done about it.
Creating my linkblog
But what I wanted was to get to the linkblog feature - so my plan was to use FeedDemon 2.5 on my desktop, as usual, to "clip" interesting articles, having this synchronised back to my NGES, and from there use the public RSS feed for the clipping folder and have it as a source for a new FeedBurner feed.
But it didn't work. I found out the RSS feed for the clipping folder is actually password protected, and this can not be changed (so I am told by the NewsGator support people). I also find out FeedBurner does not support password protected sources, so I was back to square one.
"Locations" can only be created against feeds in "My Folders", and is not relevant to feeds in "My Clippings", so had to subscribe to my own clipping feed, create a "Location" with this single feed in it, and enable "Headlines". This actually worked perfectly and did exactly what I wanted.
But since this is my test server at home, I didn't want to have an unknown amount of traffic coming down my cable modem connection. So I thought hard and found a way around it: the public NewsGator web-based service does support authentication, unlike FeedBurner. And it also supports "Headlines" in its main "Location".
I just had to subscribe to my clipping RSS feed through the free NewsGator web-based service, which worked well, and then enable "Headlines" for the default location.
Like FeedBurner would, the NewsGator web-based service acts as a proxy between my linkblog and my NGES, thus solving the possible load problem on my home server.
After all the updates, tests, support inquiries to NewsGator and FeedBurner (thank you guys!) I managed to get this working and have my linkblog up and running.
I could have migrated my feeds to Google Reader, which provides a "linkblog" feature automatically, but I simply can't think of replacing FeedDemon - this thing is fast and very convenient.
Of course you can do the same with a combination of FeedDemon and the NewsGator web-based service, if you don't run your own NGES. You don't even need FeedDemon, if you want to solely use the web-based service provided.
Now I am ready to test NewsGator Go! for Mobile on my Pocket PC...
UPDATE: Newsgator support pointed to a way of making the shared clipping RSS public, that is available without a password required. So I now have it also through FeedBurner to provide a public RSS feed, whch is now up in the linkblog.
There's also a video from Walter Mossberg's review on The Wall Street Journal ("The iPhone is Breakthrough Handheld computer").
Much to my surprise, instead of the usual Microsoft U.S. support site I was greeted with the Microsoft Hong Kong site:
Firefox correctly goes to the U.S. site... And If I restart Internet Explorer then it goes to the correct page. But I don't want to lose all the other tabs and pages I have loaded!
Hello! My system is set as English (New Zealand), and so is Internet Explorer. I have no idea what this page says - lucky there's an "english" version, but I don't want that version. Microsoft, please stop messing with people's destinations.
Or shall I start rebooting Windows Vista every day now?
As well as Sweden, Omnifone confirms it has now entered into partnerships with 30 mobile operators with networks in the following territories: Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK.
Omnifone is the company behind the MusicStation, a flat-fee mobile music subscription service. Users pays 2.99 euros per week to access all you can eat music from your mobile device. If you stop paying, the music is gone.
So I contacted both Vodafone New Zealand and Telecom New Zealand about this, trying to find which one is the "confimed" network Omnifone hinted in their press release.
Telecom New Zealand came back to me with "some discussions were had – nothing more serious than that", so I though it could be Vodafone New Zealand (which haven't replied yet).
After a quick Google Search I found an old forum thread here on Geekzone, where this very topic was being discussed. Also, there is the partnership between Vodacom and Omnifone already.
So, could it be that Vodafone New Zealand will add this to their Vodafone Music Store? Their current business model is simply direct sales, with a song track download for your mobile device or PC for a set price. MusicStation would be an interesting complement to this service.
UPDATE: I've received a phone call from Vodafone New Zealand... They confirm there's a global partnership with Omnifone, but there are no current plans to deploy this service in New Zealand. They can also confirm the Vodafone Music Store is doing well - just this week they entered the New Zealand charts with a single only available through the Vodafone on-line store.
Vodafone has signed a deal with Omniphone at group level, however here in New Zealand we're very happy with the progress of the Vodafone Music Store (the number one seller of music singles in New Zealand) and have no plans to change that model any time soon.
UPDATE: I also got a reply from Omnifone, who says that any service launch would be confirmed a day before its "go live" date, so they can't confirm or deny anything.
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SuperHappyDevHouse Aotearoa is inspired by the SuperHappyDevHouse, a monthly hackathon event in the US, combining serious and not-so-serious productivity with a fun and exciting party atmosphere.
The whole thing is about rapid development, ad-hoc collaboration and cross pollination. Hardcore coders, l33t hax0r, passionate designers, and other types that enjoy software and technology development will be at home in the SuperHappyDevHouse.
This is not a marketing event. It's intended for passionate and creative technical people that want to have some fun, learn new things, and meet new people.
The pilot is "by invitation only" because we need to measure attendance, gather feedback on structure, etc. If you have received an invitation please reply now.
If you did not receive an invitation for the pilot, we will be running this on a regular basis and will make it an open event. So either keep checking the SuperHappyDevHouse Aotearoa wiki, or contact me or one of the organisers.
A big thank you to all our sponsors: Actrix, Catalyst, Citylink, Google, Microsoft, and Mindscape. Without your help things would be a bit harder. Also thank you to the original SuperHappyDevHouse for letting us use the name.
Way to go Wellington - thank you FX and Citylink... Bringing more technology capacity to the city!