My window to the world


Playstation 3, Xbox 360 One Year

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Mar-2007 08:13

I am not a console game player. I like the games on my PC (Counter Strike, Day of Defeat, Diablo II, Age of Empires) though and very soon Windows Vista users will be able to join the Xbox Live service - even play games together in multiplayer matches!

But the post is not about this new feature. It's about the Playstation 3 launch. I read somewhere that in Australia camera crews went to some places to capture the excitment of this launch, but were greeted by about fourty people, not enough to create a great picture as expected.

In London, though, things were nicer according to the BBC. Everyone in line got a free Sony Bravia 46" HDTV and a taxi home. Yes, way to go!

I didn't hear much about Sony New Zealand doing anything really. I only noticed a few boxes at the door in our local EB. By the number of boxes stacked there, and looking at the price, I am not sure they are flying out like hot cakes.

Back to the Xbox 360 front, the Playstation 3 was launched in New Zealand exactly one year (to the date) after the local Xbox 360 launch. To celebrate, the Xbox 360 PR company sent out to some influencers (yay!) a mysterious green box wrapped in "Xbox 360" tape. I opened it to find a mini chocolate cake with the Xbox 360 logo and one candle.

Happy anniversary!








Roll out... Windows 2000 Professional

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Mar-2007 18:14

Yes, I know... After working sixteen years for a system integrator I understand the cost of large projects, and I understand that rolling out Microsoft Windows Vista in a large organisation is no easy task.

But still, I was surprised today when I stopped at my local mall's McDonalds to get a coke (regular, no ice please, but who cares? Not the cashier, who sometimes brings with ice anyway) and noticed that, at last, they have replaced the PC running Windows 95 with a new Dell machine running Windows XP.

Then, walking back to the carpark I've noticed through a window that the local ANZ branch is still running Windows 2000 Professional on their desktops.

The large projects are getting even larger as time goes by...



New Zealand Trade and Enterprise owns Australian technology during CeBIT

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Mar-2007 13:18

Interesting read at the Australian paper The Age: "We don't stand up to Kiwis"... Apparently the Australian companies exhibiting at the CeBIT 2007 did not have the same kind of exposure the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise agency managed to get for kiwi technology companies:

The dull and dimly lit Australian Pavilion, funded primarily by the Victorian State Government, was squeezed into 81 square metres of floor space in the corner of one of CeBIT's massive exhibit halls. It was dwarfed by New Zealand's 200-square-metre, federally funded installation next door.

Most of the 30 Australian companies represented at the national pavilion were disappointed at being "out-blinged" by the Kiwis.

Jaques Blandin, president of Firmware Technologies, [agreed.] "There's a severe lack of funds in Australia for technology and I don't think the Federal Government really knows what's going on," he said.

The exhibitors praised the Victorian Government for subsidising the installation. Space on the stand cost about $10,000 for non-Victorian exhibitors and less for Victorians, Next was told.



According to The Age, the New Zealand Government also had immigration officers at the installation to attract German IT workers.

Way to go!







Your future broadband: 50Mbps downstream and upstream

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Mar-2007 19:13

Found this through GigaOM today, and got to the press release:


Meet the Man With the Fastest Internet Speed in the Country

ROSEVILLE, Calif., March 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- To the amazement of those watching, Jim Husman zipped around his computer like a Cheetah on the Serengeti as he completely dominated a Quake 3 video game versus other online gamers. The remarkable part was that he did this while simultaneously streaming a high definition movie trailer of Batman Begins, listening to an online radio music stream, checking his e-mail and uploading a massive graphic design file to one of his clients.

How was he able to do this? Husman was the first person to sign up for the fastest residential Internet speed in the country -- SureWest Communications' (NASDAQ: SURW) Internet product of up to 50 megabits per second (Mbps) of synchronous hyper-speed. Launched in December 2006 over SureWest's fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) platform, which reaches nearly 100,000 marketable homes in the greater Sacramento, CA region, it is the only service in the United States that delivers 50 Mbps of residential Internet speed both uploading and downloading.

SureWest is able to offer this unmatched Internet speed by delivering 100 Mbps of bi-directional bandwidth to each customer's home on its FTTP platform, leaving room to bundle video and voice services as well. With over 190,000 total marketable homes over its combined copper and fiber Broadband networks, SureWest can offer the 50-meg product to 52 percent of its Broadband service territory.



Great stuff! And it is 50 Mbps DOWN and UP... While I can't complain about my (now really small) 10 Mbps/2Mbps cable service from TelstraClear, I can only hear the people on Telecom's ADSL service crying...

I really hope TelstraClear comes with a 25 Mbps offering soon... Tomorrow is not soon enough now!





TVNZ On Demand is live

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Mar-2007 15:41

DRM? Love DRM? Get more of it then! TVNZ is launching its TVNZ On Demand service, which provides access to library of TV shows, ranging from the last week broadcasts to old kiwi classics.

Users can access the shows in two ways: by streaming the content (which is always free), or downloading the content (which attracts a cost).

Downloaded content is paid for with PlayPoints, which can be purchased in batches of $10, $20, $50 or $100. A 30 minute programme will cost 4 PlayPoints, or  about $2. When you register you get 20 bonus PlayPoints (the site says 10 bonus PlayPoints but my experience was different).

Downloads are fast, and through Akamai servers, but the Download Manager is less than perfect in terms of user interaction. I've downloaded a 23 minute show (30 minutes without the advertising) weighing in 225MB and all worked ok. The first time I tried to play the .WMV file it asked for my user name and password, or offered the option to create an account right there.

The file played on Windows Vista and WMP 11 with no problems at all. The quality was really good even on full screen, and with no artifacts I could see.

When you "purchase" a download you are actually only purchasing the right to watch that specific file on that computer only, and for seven days - no more. A shame, I'd like to be able to have it for longer periods, perhaps do like some music store where you pay a monthly fee, and providing the subscription is current you can access and play any song in the library. This would make a lot of sense. As it is, I can see that a lot of people will be put off of having to pay $50 to buy 12 one hour shows... It can be quite expensive at the end.


To be fair, all streaming shows are free though.

The website is quite nice, and they are going to make some money with advertising I see... Not a problem seeing that somehow they need to pay for the free streaming. But they could put a bit of effort and make that welcome e-mail better looking.

All in all, a great initiative. A shame Telecom New Zealand's plans for IPTV haven't come true yet, even after a couple of years of work on their part. And I do hope the Internet infrastructure in this country is well looked after, because this kind of service will no doubt stress the networks even more...

UPDATE: There is a good discussion about TVNZ On Demand on Geekzone.







ReadyBoost testing

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Mar-2007 12:01

I've just invested $113 on a Sandisk Extreme 2GB 133x SD Card from flashcards. Let's see if these Windows Vista ReadyBoost problems are related to my current Transcend 1GB 133 SD card or if it is really just Windows Vista playing up.

If you haven't followed, ReadyBoost works on my laptop (AMD Turion 64 x2) but for no apparent reason (and not logged) ReadyBoost stops working. It could be the card, so I am replacing it to test. If not, then I will have a larger fast new card for my Nikon D50 DSLR.

UPDATE: Doom... The new card fails, like the Transcend I used previously. It could either be the laptop (strange, since it's Windows Vista Premium Ready) or the operating system. I bet it is the operating system.



The VOCO Clock

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Mar-2007 10:17

This is not exactly high technology but it is one of the most hilarious electronic product I've seen lately: the VOCO Clock.

No, I don't have one here for testing, but if you visit their website you will be able to listen to some of the "wake up call" messages, recorded by Stephen Fry.


You will hear gems such as these:


I'm so sorry to disturb you sir, but it appears to be morning. Very inconvenient, I agree, sir. I believe it is the rotation of the earth which is to blame, sir.

I'm delighted you have survived another night. May I add my own congratulations to the roar of the world's approval? Thank you, sir.

I'm afraid the staff has absconded, sir. And it is my day off. I trust it will not be too onerous to make your own esquisitely sliced toast and perfectly cooked breakfast?

Come come, sir. Let us not be defeated. Let seize the day, and take it roughly from behind. As the Colonel used to say in his unfortunate manner.

The world has been very anxious to hear from you for the last eight hours. Shall I inform the news agencies you are about to rise, sir?

The rising and the shining cannot be postponed indefinetely. Though shining isn't compulsory in this world, the rising eventually is.




What is new on Windows Mobile 6?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Mar-2007 21:39

There's a great blog post on MSDN where Jason Landgridge lists the differences between Windows Mobile 5 and Windows Mobile 6, plus a list of new features and the new naming convention for Windows Mobile-based devices.

Worth a read...





Windows Vista annoyances

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Mar-2007 13:23

Not a good post for a Sunday morning, but here it is... Four things that annoy me on Windows Vista:

- Microsoft Outlook 2007 is the only software that still shows "... stopped responding. Closing program" when I click File | Exit. Can't they work together in peace?

- Wireless LAN is still a bugger. I found more networks that it won't connect to, with the same driver errors. I've posted in this blog and reported to some Microsoft folks. But this is still happening and no word on fix for this behaviour.

- ReadyBoost stops working without any message. Sometimes I right-click a SD card and find ReadyBoost is no longer available. I know this is the case when I notice my HDD thrashing away. Couldn't they at least give a visual indication, now that the UI is so fancy? I am going to buy a new SD card from another brand, to test the hardware.

- Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC) is a piece of software. Devices will connect or not, at will. Lucky I sync the PIM with my Exchange Server, because this is the most unreliable piece of software ever.

If these things don't go away pretty soon I am sure going to install Windows XP SP2 on this laptop. I am pretty sure some would even suggest Ubuntu. But I am still not ready to spend time learning something new now. Perhaps later.










Small world

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Mar-2007 20:13

This is a small world... I had a stop in San Francisco on my way to Seattle to attend the Microsoft MVP Summit. While walking down, talking on the smartphone and checking e-mails on my Pocket PC I bumped into Nic Wise and wife Leoni.

No, they are not coming to the summit. It just happened that they were disembarking a plane from Madison (Wisconsin), for a short stay in San Francisco before heading to New Zealand. Pure coincidence in time and location. A few seconds before or after we would miss each other...

Another coincidence? Tonight Nick Randolph joined us for dinner in Seattle. He told me his flight from Perth to Los Angeles had a stop in Auckland (New Zealand) and I found he was on that loooong queue I saw in front of the QANTAS gate! We were in the Auckland airport at the same time, unbeknown to each other. I probably walked past him just a few meters away!

Small world...

I had a few hours in San Francisco, so I met an old Brazilian friend for brunch. Great weather, nice food. Flying out of San Francisco to Seattle though and everything changed. Snowy caps in Oregon, and clouds over Seattle. Raining here (no news), but not colder than Wellington on a rainy day.

Also, what's the problem with Air New Zealand? I bought my tickets to Seattle three months ago, and my profile says "aisle seats". When I checked in (and I did so in Wellington, which means a good four hours before the Auckland crowd) they didn't have any aisle seats available anymore.

The food was good though (in Premium Economy), and the wine too. The service was great (unlike the Trans-Tasman routes).




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.

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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.

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