My window to the world


Unpack your vodem: Vodafone releases support for Windows Vista

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Apr-2007 17:21

Believe it or not, but Google Analytics tells me about 15% of our readers used a Windows Vista-based PC to access Geekzone during March/April 2007.

That's why I get so excited when I see support for Windows Vista rolling out of the door - such as the new, fresh Vodafone vodem drivers for the new operating system.

The vodem is a HSDPA (high speed mobile Internet) USB modem you can use with your PC. For pictures and some speed tests, check out my "Unpacking the Vodem" review.

Vodafone New Zealand promised the drivers for Windows Vista a while ago, and these are now officially available through select stores, while Vodafone sorts out download pages, etc. In the meantime, if you are in New Zealand and you must have it now then post a comment here or contact me and we will arrange for someone at Vodafone New Zealand to get in touch.

UPDATE: I've sent an email with a download link to whoever asked for it. Just be sure to read the instructions. The update must be made from a Windows XP machine, not Windows Vista (go figure!). Vodafone stores should now have this update available. Do not call the customer services because apparently they have no idea what this is about.








Agreement between Vodafone New Zealand and TelstraClear coming to an end?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Apr-2007 08:43

It looks like the agreement allowing TelstraClear to resell Vodafone New Zealand connections under a different area code (029) is coming up for renewal soon. And lots of signs indicate the agreement will not be renewed.

I was alerted to this by a post in our forums, plus an article in the newspaper. I decided to put my ear on the ground and listen for more information. I also asked the parts about the rumours. This is the comment from Vodafone New Zealand:


Commercial Development Manager Tom Chignell says: "TelstraClear is one of many channels we use that sell our services for us, and it's not our practice to comment on business matters between ourselves and our distribution channels.

"Vodafone is committed to an ongoing commercial relationship with TelstraClear.

"We have a variety of mutually beneficial dealings with TelstraClear. As well as acting as a channel for our mobile services, we work cooperatively on the TCF on a range of issues from number portability to llu [Local Loop Unbundling]. We interconnect a huge amount of traffic with them, and we are working very cooperatively with them on the NAD (number administration deed)."


I haven't received a reply from TelstraClear, yet.

But what I've heard from two different sources is alarming. Alarming because it shows how TelstraClear lost the plot: it just happens that TelstraClear was only reselling the Vodafone product (mobile connections). But here comes the catch: the customer base belongs to Vodafone, not TelstraClear.

So even though Vodafone did not provide direct support to customers calling them (in case of need (as I saw reported in our Geekzone forums before), the customers actually belonged to Vodafone.

Of course Vodafone may, or may not, realise how many deals (mainly in the government sector) TelstraClear brought to them. And it looks like they are not afraid of scratching this relationship.

The story leaked to newspapers from TesltraClear's customers since neither company will confirm or deny the stories.






Mobile operators need better customer services to convince the audience

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Apr-2007 07:49

Every time I read our Geekzone forums I believe both Vodafone and Telecom need better customer services, pricing plans that don't confuse the users, flexible help desk hours, and more.

I've just read Seth Godin's post "Just because they say it" and it reflects pretty much what we see in the New Zealand telecommunications market in general:


I get more complaints about the bad customer service provided by cell phone companies than just about any other sort of organization.

We're waiting for the bait and switch, for the service to fade out, to be stuck, once again with a company that doesn't care. It might very well be that this time it's different.

The challenge to a marketer that chooses to enter a market with a miserable history of customer abuse is obvious: you can claim to be better, to be unevil, benevolent even, but people just aren't prepared to believe you. It doesn't fit the consumer's worldview. So, you could be the honest politician or the quality contractor or the direct marketer with no fine print and no spam, but you better be prepared to prove it over and over before we believe you.



Actually we have to consider that it is part of human nature to complain when things are wrong, but you read very little when things are right.

I can't complain about either Vodafone New Zealand or Telecom New Zealand really. I use both as my mobile communications providers and never had a problem.

For my fixed communications I use TelstraClear. They have superb cable modem service, way ahead of the DSL provided in the rest of the country by Telecom New Zealand. But wait time of 45 minutes when calling the help desk... That's the problem. Lucky I only had to do that a couple of times last year - none so far in 2007.





Pirates of the Silicon Valley

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Apr-2007 10:44

The movie Pirates of Silicon Valley (IMDB) is a made for TV story of great figures, and corporations: Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp... You will see Noah Wyle as a young Steve Jobs, Anthony Michael Hall as Bill Gates, Joey Slotnick as Steve Wozniak and John Di Maggio as Steve Ballmer. Worth watching it. You will find out lots. I saw the movie a few years ago on DVD. IF you want to find even more about Apple Inc, read Steve Wozniak's iWoz. I don't know if this is an authorised version, but Google video shows more than 300,000 views already, and the movie has been up for more than four months. Watch Pirates of the Silicon Valley now on Google Video.



A couple of RSS feeds you should read

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Apr-2007 20:38

This is a shameless plug post. I am about to suggest three RSS feeds you should keep an eye on, including the readership numbers (by FeedBurner):

 Geekzone (RSS feed): this is our main feed, with all news, reviews, and some of the top Geekzone Blogs.

 Technozone (RSS feed): this is a special feed based on a network of tech blogs, including some Geekzone Blogs, and a few external blogs we think are interesting.

 Australia/New Zealand MVPs (RSS feed): this is a brand new network, bringing together blogs by Microsoft MVP folks based down under. You will find posts in a wide range of Microsoft technologies and interests.

If you are a Microsoft MVP based in Australia or New Zealand, please post to the mailing list asking to be invited to the network!

Of course you should also subscribe to my own RSS feed.




CDMA EVDO Rev A USB modem coming to Telecom New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Apr-2007 11:08

I've heard from the grapevine that Telecom New Zealand is working towards the launch of a CDMA EVDO Rev A USB modem for May - somewhere between mid to end of the month.

Knowing that Telecom New Zealand currently sells the Sierra Wireless Aircard 595, I would guess the new USB modem will be the Sierra Wireless Aircard 595u:

Since I have no confirmation of the model it's only my guess.

The Sierra Wireless Aircard 595 is the only 3G card that works ok with a Windows Vista 64 bit installation. The Vodafone equivalent is the Novatel produtc,, but there are no drivers for 64 bit yet (and the useless Novatel support doesn't reply to queries on their site).





HTC Announces Windows Mobile 6 updates, but not for your HTC Universal

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Apr-2007 12:21

HTC has announced the roadmap of Windows Mobile 6 updates, according to Engadget. The list includes the HTC Advantage, HTC TyTn, HTC S620, HTC P3300, and the HTC 4350.

Strangely the list does not include the HTC Universal, the 3G-enabled, mini laptop replacement flagship device, top of the line, also known as QTEK 9090 or i-mate Jasjar.

The device is certainly not new, launched back in September 2005. But seeing that it's listed as available from some mobile operators and since this is a business device I would expect to see an update available for it. You can currently find a HTC Universal from Vodafone New Zealand at NZ$1999 (US$ 1500).



The device is more than capable, with fast CPU and ample keyboard for a good messaging experience. And the VGA screen is second to none.

Of course we still haven't heard from the other distributors carrying the HTC Universal in their product line (Dopod, Grundig, i-mate, O2, Orange, SFR, T-Mobile, Vodafone), but since the manufacturer themselves are not going to offer an upgrade path for this device, I guess we won't be seeing one soon.

Again it happens. Even though devices are very capable, users ended up investing a small fortune on something that won't be updated. I know, there are work involved, retro fitting drivers, updating radio stack, etc... But again, it's a really expensive device!

You can find more on "Why can't I upgrade my Windows Mobile device" in an old post in the Windows Mobile team blog.




CTP for Windows Home Server beta hits the streets

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Apr-2007 08:59

The Windows Home Server beta has hit the stage where a CTP (Community Technology Preview) is widely available to the public. The announcement came after a leak of the CTP build, a witch hunt, allegations that a MVP was responsible for the leak (no MVP was involved in that leak) and general high antecipation.

You can apply to be a Windows Home Server beta tester now.

A word of warning though: even with the push in the direction of 64 bit OS for the desktop, Windows Home Server CTP still does not support Windows Vista 64 bit clients. I tested this last week (I had an early access to the CTP build) and can conrfirm this feature is still not present.

I've heard from Bill Gates himself how important is the 64 bit push into the desktop... But Microsoft is still working around this.

The Windows Home Server is a great concept - and you can tweak lots. Power Users will notice that WHS can run almost everything you'd run on a SBS box. Be careful though and read the documentation. Some programs are known to break the new special file management system in place. This new system is really cool and allows almost transparent management of storage on your server. For lots of more information, check the Windows Home Server blog.




Did anyone see a massive RIM BlackBerry failure?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Apr-2007 21:20

I just found out a story from WNBC, Massive System Failure Affecting Blackberry Users. Apparently BlackBerry users in the Western hemisphere were not able to use their device for e-mail:

NewsChannel4 has learned of a massive system failure affecting all blackberry users in the western hemisphere.
The RIM Company, which stands for Research In Motion, developed blackberry technology and said its infrastructure failed around 8 p.m. Tuesday and has been down ever since.

E-mails are not being pushed to portable blackberry devices.

Officials with RIM said they are trying to reset the system and told NewsChannel4 that they are concerned that the backlog of data, which will rush through when it comes back on line, could cause a bigger problem.


17 April 8pm (EDT) would be 18 April 12 noon in (NZ). I wonder if this affected New Zealand or Australia. I will be contacting Vodafone New Zealand (or they can comment here) to find out more.




Geekzone and Nielsen//NetRatings stats

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Apr-2007 20:31

Back in September 2006 I decided to contract to the Nielsen//NetRatings service and track Geekzone data with Market Intelligence and Site Census.

As a result we get an overview of the on-line media industry in New Zealand, plus we get onto "the radar" for advertisers, press relation and players in the tech industry.

Every week Nielsen//NetRatings sends out a chart with the top ten sites in different categories, and this week Technology was again the focus. The last Technology chart was six months ago, just after we joined the service.


The great news is that Geekzone is still the top technology New Zealand site (Unique Browsers and Page Impressions). I sent a copy of the chart to some PR companies, telcos and other tech companies - some even replied to me with "I didn't know you guys have this reach".

So thanks to all the readers and contributors to Geekzone, its forums and blogs - you help make the site what it is.

I keep an eye on numbers because the service is available on-line 24/7 for publishers, but these charts are great snippets of information for the public.

But enough said. Looking at some of my ego feeds I found Neil Anderson's comments on this chart, comparing with the same one from six months ago. Neil is the former editor of the New Zealand Herald on-line and says:


If you’re on top of technology news in New Zealand, then you’re probably a frequent visitor to geekzone.co.nz, the unflashy but highly credible site run by Mauricio Freitas from Wellington.

Geekzone offers its readers tech news and reviews, chats and discussion forums [don’t geeks love those!], plus blogs such as Juha Saarinen’s popular Techsploder.

The site is quite a success story too, with the latest Nielsen NetRatings showing the site drew almost 122,000 unique visitors last week [see first table above].

By comparison, the tech sections of the major newspaper-based websites [stuff.co.nz and nzherald.co.nz] each drew less than a third that number.

I dug out the corresponding chart from last November [see above], and you can see that Geekzone’s latest results are no fluke.


Neil, thank you for the kind words. It is really a great feeling to be able to do this job and I enjoy it - a lot.



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.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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