My window to the world


Driving and SMS

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Mar-2007 08:45

Last Friday I walked the Wellington CBD up and down, since I had to leave the Geek Mobile for a service at the Chrysler shop here.

This gave me an excellent opportunity to realise something: New Zealand lawmakers should worry less about the anti-smacking bill (hey, it's already illegal to smack someone!) and look at all those mad, stupid, dumb drivers who are behind the steering wheel and sending SMS at the same time, while driving.

I counted many cases of people talking on their mobile phones while driving, but worst of all is to see someone that is looking down to their laps because they are writing a SMS, instead of having the eyes up and on the road ahead.

One of the people I saw yesterday looked like sleeping, because the eyes were looking down... He was at the same time slowing down because there were two cars in front of him... And a red light. I saw at least three people doing the same, in two blocks.

I wonder how many car crashes we have in the heavy morning or evening traffic, thanks to idiots who can't take the time to put their mobile phones away.

The New Zealand Police should worry less about someone doing 10 KM/h over the limit on an empty highway, and pay attention to those idiots in heavy traffic. Oh, and perhaps also look at stupid people who don't stop on STOP and don't indicate either. I think those are more dangerous things than the speed on the open road.

And since we touched the anti-smacking bill... As I said, it's already illegal to use more than reasonable force when disciplining children. This new bill is there to prevent those child abusive parents to use the "reasonable force" defence. But clearly this is already covered. Worst, it will make even moving a children to a timeout place an offence. What's next? Timeout corners will be illegal because some MP will deem those a form of torture?







Naughty HP removing Outlook from Windows Mobile CDs

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Mar-2007 08:00

It is a well established practice in the Windows Mobile market: every Windows Mobile device comes with a CD containing the (current) ActiveSync (or Windows Mobile Device Center for Windows Vista), and a copy of Microsoft Outlook with its corresponding software key.

And that's fair enough, because Windows Mobile devices will only synchronise with Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Exchange Servers.

It seems the Microsoft Mobile and Embedded Division is again giving too much power to the OEM/ODM... I just found through Experience Mobility that HP has decided to skip the Microsoft Outlook from the product CD, forcing users who purchase their HP iPaq to have to go out of their way and also buy Microsoft Outlook, separately:


Microsoft Outlook is not provided on the HP iPAQ Getting Started CD and must be purchased separately from Microsoft. Customers can go to office.microsoft.com and follow the on-screen instructions to purchase the available version of Microsoft Outlook.



This move is really strange. It looks like coming from a newbie product manager who never dealt with Windows Mobile before and thought that Microsoft Outlook was just a freebie, not a requirement.

Is this a cost reduction decision? Or simply HP making all it's in their power to annoy consumers? Don't they realise this will increase support costs? Are we going to see an equivalent reduction in price of these devices?

My first Pocket PC was a HP iPaq h3970. The second (and one of the best Pocket PC ever!) was the HP iPaq h4150. Since then I played with two other devices and briefly touched their new Windows Mobile Smartphone (not the best thing in the Smartphone world, I have to say).

I completely lost contact with HP in the last two years. The New Zealand subsidiary is not really into the Windows Mobile space and e-mails go unanswered, promises do not turn into reality...








New Zealand Computer Science Research Student Conference

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Mar-2007 15:20

I have just received information about the upcoming New Zealand Computer Science Research Student Conference (NZCSRSC) taking place at the University of Waikato in Hamilton (New Zealand), from 10th-13th of April 2007.

Guest speakers include:

- Craig Nevill-Manning (PhD from Waikato) founded Google's first remote engineering center, located in midtown Manhattan, where he is an Engineering Director.
- Nigel Scott, member of the triple Oscar winning sound editing team at Park Road Post.
- Tyrone McAuley is Co-founder/Co-Owner and Technical Director at Sidhe Interactive,
- Prof Ian Foster, Director of the Computation Institute at Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago, where he is also the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Computer Science.


The central goal of NZCSRSC is to foster a lasting community between research students in New Zealand and is being organised by Computer Science students from the University of Waikato. Participants include students graduating in Computer Science, from nine New Zealand universities.

The conference includes student presentations, invited talks, workshops, social events, even a Suits n' Geeks evening!

More information on the official website. for the NZCSRSC... Thanks Craig Anslow  for the tip!




Winfixer invades AOL network

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Mar-2007 15:13

A couple of weeks ago there was a case of an adware/spyware/fake cleaner whatever being spread through the MSN Messenger network. It looks like those guys are at it again, this time infecting AOL pages, according to Spyware Sucks.

Upon visiting a page on AOL Money news the user is automatically redirected to another domain outside the AOL network. This domain will try to load a "scanner" using those pesky messages "You computer is at risk".

The guys insist, and even if you click CANCEL or the [X] button a few times the site still tries to load their "software".

Spyware Sucks has a complete report, including screenshots taken during the whole thing. They go to such extent as to disable the CANCEL button, leaving the user no other option than to click OK or close the browser entirely!

Once again, installing spyware or any other software requires user consent. If you click OK then that's not much that an OS can do. You must pay attention to the messages and not click OK or INSTALL or RUN for anything that pops up out of the blue.





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.



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:

Social networks presence

View Mauricio Freitas's profile on LinkedIn


My Blog by tags...

Blog...
Entrepreneurship...
Media...
Personal...
Technology...
Viral Marketing...
Web Performance Optimization...
Windows...
Windows Phone...

Other recent posts in my blog

Windows Phone and Android apps...
Minister for Economic Developm...
Your NAS and the Bash vulnerab...
Going to Microsoft TechEd New ...
State of Browsers Geekzone Mar...
Free speech...
Testing the Kingston DataTrave...
Telecom enforces SSL email, us...
Windows XP end of support: 8 A...
Take a bit of time to cleanup ...

New posts on Geekzone