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Xbox 360 Autumn Update: chat device, IM and more.

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

I've just got hold of a couple of pictures of the new Xbox 360 chat device and the Windows Live Messenger on Xbox 360. It looks really nice from here, even though I am not a keen console gamer (I prefer the PC-based games).

The cool stuff about this new feature is that gamers will be able to connect to other Windows Live Messenger users, regardless of those friends being connected from other Xbox 360 console, a PC or a Windows Mobile device. The chat feature allows up to six people to be added to a conversation.

The service will be available from 7 May 2007, with the Xbox Autumn Update (hey it's Autumn in the south). Users with Gold and Silve membership will be able to access the service, and it include video, voice and text chat.

After receiving the pictures I asked for the official press release, and I found out more features coming soon:

• A richer Achievement notification pop-up will showcase the name of the unlocked Achievement and the gamerscore value without needing to leave the game to check the Achievements list.
• Enhanced family settings features for Xbox LIVE communications enable different defaults for video chat and voice chat.
• A new Xbox LIVE Marketplace blade lets Xbox LIVE members access the content they seek from one place on Xbox LIVE.
• Updates to Xbox LIVE Arcade allow owners to quickly see which Xbox LIVE Arcade games their friends are playing and join in the fun. Xbox LIVE members can also compare progress of leaderboard scores and Achievements directly with all friends on their friends list. Expanded ‘Tell a Friend’ capabilities make it easier than ever to boast about Achievements and high scores.
• A new option in Auto Downloads provides faster access to the entire collection of free, trial-version Xbox LIVE Arcade games.
• New progressive download controls provide easy access to optimal viewing options by letting people fast-forward, rewind, pause and resume as their video is downloaded from Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
• Extension of the background download functionality will allow owners to set their Xbox 360 console to turn off automatically after downloads are complete.

The chat device should be in the stores soon.

Vodafone: World of Geeks

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Apr-2007 09:12

Found this Vodafone advert through izzatz and thought it was appropriate here:

Norton 360 giveaway

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Apr-2007 14:34

If you are interested in a free copy of Symantec's new Norton 360, head on to Geekzone and enter the competition.

We have three copies of Symantec Norton 360 to give away - and you can install each copy in up to three PCs - complete security for all your Windows-based computers at home.

New Zealand cheapest mobile data in the world?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Apr-2007 11:48

If you look at the following chart found through this post it looks like:

The original post talks about the costs of mobile data in Canada, and who to contact about this. I am just posting the image here because it shows how we compare with other countries.

It is an interesting chart, and the author lists links to the mobile operators to support these prices. I just hope Vodafone and Telecom don't come together saying "See, we offer great prices", instead of "See, we can do better"...

Note that this chart lists Vodafone New Zealand only, but Telecom New Zealand offers similar data plan.

ReadyBoost and SD cards:

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Apr-2007 13:26

You might be aware of my previous posts about Windows Vista ReadyBoost working inconsistently on my Acer laptop. It seems to work fine with a USB memory key, but I tried two different brands of high speed SD cards with the internal SD card reader and both stop working after a while.

Just now I found this KB article about "Availability of the Windows Vista Secure Digital (SD) hotfix rollup package".

The following issues are fixed in this hotfix package. These issues have not been previously documented in a Microsoft Knowledge Base article.

• When you try to remove an SD card driver or when you try to disable it, a Windows Vista-based computer stops responding. When this problem occurs, you receive a Stop error message that resembles the following: Stop 0x000000C4 (0x00000062,parameter2,parameter3,parameter4)

• When you insert an SD card into a card reader on a Windows Vista-based computer, Windows Vista does not detect the SD card. This issue occurs if the following conditions are true: 

The SD card does not support 1.8 volts. Typically, most SD cards use 3.3 volts. 
The SD host controller uses 1.8 volts.
• When you insert an SD card into the card reader on a Toshiba M500 portable computer that is running Windows Vista, Windows Vista does not detect the SD card. This issue occurs because of a timing issue with the SD host controller.

• When you copy more than 4 gigabytes (GB) of files to a Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) card, some files are corrupted. You do not experience this issue if you copy less than 4 GB of files to the SDHC card. This problem occurs because the Windows Vista SD driver does not correctly process more than 4 GB of addressing.

• An SD card stops responding after a Windows Vista-based computer resumes from sleep (S3) or from hibernation (S4) two times. For example, you experience this issue after you follow these steps:

1. You put the computer to sleep or into hibernation.
2. You start the computer from sleep or from hibernation.
3. You copy files to the SD card or from the SD card.
4. You put the computer to sleep or into hibernation
5. You start the computer from sleep or from hibernation.
• You try to use the Safely Remove Hardware feature to remove an SD card from a Windows Vista-based computer while the card is being used. As expected, the card is not removed from the computer because the card is being used. However, when you try to access the SD card, you receive the following error message: SD media cannot be accessed. Media is not accessible, access denied

• On a Toshiba M500 portable computer that is running Windows Vista, you use Device Manager to disable the "Bluetooth RFBUS from Toshiba" driver. However, when you re-enable the driver, Device Manager stops responding.

I am installing the hotfix now and will test it through the week to see if it really solves the problem.

Free SMS from your Windows desktop and Google homepage

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Apr-2007 10:14

I have just received a press release of an interesting service providing SMS from your desktop in the form of Windows Vista Gadget, Google Homepage Gadget, Yahoo Widget andd even Apple Widget. I am talking about the CallWave SMS product.

I have it now installed in my Windows Vista Sidebar. What it does is allows you to send unlimited SMS to the U.S. and Canada, and during this test phase up to five SMS to other countries, per day.

The press release says you can receive replies, but I couldn't find anywhere in the account to configure this:

For mobile phone users who also use the web each day, the CallWave Free Text Messaging gadget (also known as a widget) delivers invaluable ease and efficiency making the PC a natural companion to the mobile phone. It allows users to send text messages to virtually anyone, anywhere, right from their desktop whether their handset is nearby or not. During the beta, subscribers can send unlimited text messages from the United States and Canada.

The Google Desktop enables consumers to create their own personal homepage on Google. Gadgets can be added from the add stuff link. The CallWave Free Text Messaging gadget can be found in the Communication section or by simply typing in CallWave in the search field. With the gadget running on the Google Desktop, users can view a list of contacts and select who to text.

Replies to the message can be routed to either the subscribers handset or email, depending on their personal settings. Subscribers will eventually be given access to their messages stored in a permanent, searchable archive, accessible from a personal web page.

To get the Google Desktop Gadget, go to or Google

Anyway, the press release is all about the Google Desktop, but if you go to the linked widgets page you will find the other gadgets. There is also a Google Homepage gadget, and you can find it directly on your Google Personalised page instead of using these links.

CallWave also has a gadget you can embed in your website or blog.

An alternative is the Free Gizmo SMS website... It promises to send free SMS around the world, unlimited... But none of the test SMS I sent to my mobile phone ever arrived. So I will stick with the CallWave service for now.

Testing the Sony Ericsson M600i

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Apr-2007 19:10

You might remember a few months ago I posted about the last Symbian UIQ device leaving this home (due to a fall). That Sony Ericsson P800 did a great job, but it was a bit tired, and the software obsolete.

Thanks to a Geekzone reader working at First Mobile, I managed to get in contact with Sony Ericsson New Zealand and I have just received a Sony Ericsson M600i for testing.

I plan to have it running for a month, in parallel with my usual Windows Mobile devices. So far the experience has been good. The Symbian UIQ has been updated lots, but still not that different from the old Sony Ericsson P800 so still easy to use. I do think it's a bit confusing though, but not that much.

The keypad is easy to use after a couple of hours working through it, and having a free copy of DataViz RoadSync with the handset doesn't hurt either.

With DataViz RoadSync it's possible to enable Direct Push ActiveSync on this handset, and it synchronising over the air with my Exchange mailbox (e-mail, calendar, contacts), including push e-mail.

Installing my self-signed certificate was a breeze, unlike the Windows Mobile Smartphone experience, where devices are so locked down that it's impossible to install a self-signed certificate without hacking the device or a firmware update.

The e-mail client only shows a limited set of folders though. It may not be enough for my needs (I have rules on the server moving messages automatically) but I am sure the other users here at home won't complain.

Acer support website

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Apr-2007 18:42

I am looking for  an updated driver for my Acer Ferrari 5000 SD card reader. The Acer website is a mess, there's no way to contact support and one downloading is coming down at 2 kilobytes per second on my 10Mbps connection - while I can download from other sites at 1 megabyte/second.

I need to contact the Acer support to track down the Windows Vista ReadyBoost problems I've seen on this laptop. So far I tested three different SD cards, all high speed and none worked well. It comes down to the SD card reader drivers not returning from a hibernation or sleep state. This obviously requires Acer to fix the drivers for Windows Vista. But how confirm this?

The page entitled "Download Acer drivers, BIOS and applications for Windows Vista" does not have any download link. You actually need to visit a page in our country and try to find your way around. I found this page with Acer drivers for Windows Vista, but some drivers provided through Microsoft's automatic update are newer than the ones provided by Acer.

I've managed to submit a support request now. Let's see how long before getting a reply (I hope it's not like Novatel, who never replied to any of my queries about Windows Vista drivers for their HSDPA cards).

UPDATE: More than ten days and no answer from Acer. I can only say their support is non-existent, even though this is their flagship and most expensive laptop model. Shame on you, Acer.

Windows Vista customisation: desktop for Corvette enthusiasts

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Apr-2007 16:00

This is really interesting. I didn't know you could replace EVERYTHING in the Windows Vista interface, including the Vista Orb. Check out the screenshot of this Corvette Theme for Windows Vista, created by Stardock for General Motors:

The theme includes:

- A complete Corvette visual style that will change the entire user interface
- Icons and buttons focused on the Corvette brand
- An animated Corvette Media Player
- Corvette weather gadget that delivers user-customized information directly to you
- Handy Corvette clock and calendar gadgets for the ultimate customization experience
- Corvette engine “rev” sound lets you know when you have email and plays at startup
- Two Corvette wallpapers to choose from at launch, with additional downloadable wallpaper content updates

This theme (and a lot more) are avaialble from Stardocks. I was just browsing their catalogue and some of those themes are really nice.

The New Zealand on-line market under the microscope II

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Apr-2007 14:35

This is just a follow up in my previous post The New Zealand on-line market under the microscope. I have received an update with an interesting image showing in what segment New Zealanders spend their money on-line:

I can see auction sites such as Trademe involved in #2, #5, #7, #8, #10... But with its move into the tourism segment I bet "Airline Tickets" will just go up and up...

freitasm's profile

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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