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