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Best and Worst Services during Google AdSense roadshow

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Mar-2007 13:25

During the last three weeks I have been flying up and down New Zealand and across to Australia to participate in the Google AdSense RoadShow panel.

During the panel publishers had a unique opportunity to interact with local Google AdSense and AdWords managers, ask questions to us publishers - myself representing Geekzone, and Australians Tim van Brugge representing (a wedding directory) and Paul Greenberg from (an Australian on-line retailer).

But I decided to write about some non-technical stuff in this post today. So without further ado, here are my Best and Worst Facilities Awards:

- Best coffee: the cafe downstairs from the Hilton Brisbane
- Best hotel location: Sheraton on the Park, Sydney and Crown Promenade, Melbourne
- Best hotel room: the Sheraton on the Park, Sydney
- Best hotel bathroom: the Crown Promenade, Melbourne
- Best breakfast: the Crown Promenade, Melbourne
- Best gadget to have in the plane: Blackbox M14 noise reduction headphones
- Best casino on-route: Crown Casino, Melbourne
- Best airport experience: customs through Brisbane
- Best car show: the Ferrari 60th Anniversary Exhibition, Crown Casino, Melbourne

- Worst in-flight food: breakfast on Air New Zealand
- Worst in-flight movie editing: Casino Royale on Air New Zealand (they cut the poison scene, but left the torture scene in place)
- Worst in-room Internet service: Hilton Brisbane
- Worst airport experience: spending 100 minutes through customs in Melbourne (passengers with better things to do were disrupted because TV program Border Patrol was filming on location)

Vodafone launches +64home concierge and assistance services for business users

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Mar-2007 11:47

Just got an interesting box here at home, coming from Vodafone New Zealand. Outside it says "Novice travellers dream of foreign lands", and inside it says "Experienced travellers dream of home".

The box is the welcome kit to a new "by invitation only" exclusive service offered by Vodafone to business account holders.

The booklet explains that +64home cardholders can call two special numbers called "Roaming Priority Service" and "Rapid Response".

With Roaming Priority Service travellers are able to contact Vodafone customer services and get into a priority queue for quicker assistance. The number is only available to card holders while in overseas trips - while in New Zealand people should continue to use 777.

The "Rapid Response" service comes in two flavours. "Rapid Response Concierge Services" is similar to some offerings from American Express and other gold or platinum credit cards. In summary is a concierge service for travellers abroad, with 24/7 access to a help line with someone that will the user organise important things from hotel bookings, organising car hires, message relays and even arrange gifts to be sent to someone.

"Rapid Response Medical Information Services" can help the traveller talking to a doctor, arrage a doctor visit, or help with admission to hospital.

The box also comes with a small cologne spray "New Zealand", by Demeter.

UPDATE: I am now unsure of "launch" as it seems this is not a new offering, but just that only now I was "invited". Perhaps because I have a business account and have been all over the world in the last two months?

Windows Vista: wireless LAN troubles, again

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Mar-2007 17:35

During the Kiwi Foo Camp my Windows Vista-based laptop was having troubles connecting to the wireless LAN routers available. Actually not "having troubles", because it simply wouldn't connect at all. I was very frustrated because that was a full geeky weekend, and I was the only one (about 120 people there) without an usable Internet connection.

Since then I've noticed three or four updates to my wireless LAN driver, all applied.

And then it happened again. During the Geekzone moderators meetup last weekend in Wellington we used the Xero offices, and two out of three Windows Vista-based laptops couldn't connect to the wireless LAN router - including mine.

The event records are bellow:

Wireless network association started.
Network Adapter: Atheros AR5006EXS Wireless Network Adapter
Interface GUID: {D87C0DBD-88FB-446B-8473-D7149528276B}
Local MAC Address: 00:16:CF:65:4D:14
Network SSID: A20
BSS Type: Infrastructure
Authentication: Open
Encryption: WEP
802.1X Enabled: Yes
Wireless network association failed.
Network Adapter: Atheros AR5006EXS Wireless Network Adapter
Interface GUID: {D87C0DBD-88FB-446B-8473-D7149528276B}
Local MAC Address: 00:16:CF:65:4D:14
Network SSID: A20
BSS Type: Infrastructure
Failure Reason: Driver disconnected while associating.
Reason Code: 229378
WLAN AutoConfig service failed to connect to a wireless network.
Network Adapter: Atheros AR5006EXS Wireless Network Adapter
Interface GUID: {D87C0DBD-88FB-446B-8473-D7149528276B}
Connection Mode: Connection to a secure network without a profile
Profile Name: A20
BSS Type: Infrastructure
Failure Reason:The specific network is not available.

Exactly the same errors I found during the Kiwi Foo Camp. I couldn't check any specific technical details on this configuration though, because the technical person wasn't there (it was Saturday).

Lucky this time I had an option, because I was using the Telecom New Zealand new CDMA EVDO card, with incredibly fast speeds.

Next week I am off to Seattle for seven days. If this thing fails again it will be time to seriously consider installing Windows XP on this machine.

UPDATE: A hotfix has been issued for some problems that may be related. Check the Microsoft KB "Several problems occur on a Windows Vista-based computer when you work in a wireless network environment".

Telecom CDMA EVDO Rev A speedtest

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Mar-2007 12:41

Last week I got a Sierra Wireless Aircard 595 to connect to Telecom New Zealand's CDMA EVDO Rev A service here in Wellington... Only now I had a chance to use it, since I've been in Australia most of the week.

And here is my first speed test:

That's right! Download speeds of 2668 kb/second (kilobits per second) and uploads of 789 bk/second.

Previously I tested Vodafone New Zealand's HSDPA service with a Merlin XU870 HSDPA card, and got only download speeds of 1400 kb/second down and 80 kb/second up.

Telecom seems to be ahead on the mobile broadband game, again.

Geekzone moderators meeting...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Mar-2007 09:17

Today is going to be an interesting day: all Geekzone moderators (TonyHughes, cokemaster, chiefie, sbiddle, BradStewart) plus our editor Juha Saarinen are here in Wellington for a meeting to discuss all things related to the site.

We will be talking about moderation, editorial, new features, and even start planning sessions and other activities for the Geekzone 2007 event.

Thanks to Rod Drury who allowed us to use the Xero offices when I asked about office spaces for short term rent for our meeting.

MSN NZ versus Yahoo!Xtra

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Mar-2007 10:19

Today is the day when Microsoft and Telecom New Zealand part ways in the on-line portal segment and start their own services.

If you visit the (now defunct) site you are greeted with a message and the option to visit either portal, or

Telecom partnered with Australian Yahoo7 to create their local presence, and is pushing hard on Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo! Mail, and other tools. Microsoft partnered with Australia PBL and ACP Media to bring the information to the portal, with a small presence from New Zealand's TV3.

The MSN portal looks a bit "dry" at the moment and the Yahoo!Xtra seems more lively, but still has some dead links.

It ill be some time before things get in a position we can see the market share split, but until then I recommend you read a series of Lance's posts on his blog:

Balanced, but I think Yahoo!Xtra seems to have the lead for now...

Internet at Hilton Brisbane Hotel

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Feb-2007 23:37

You would think a hotel charging AU$280/night would be able to offer decent Internet access. Think again. The Hilton here in Brisbane offers appaling Internet service. I am lucky if half of the images on a web page load at all - if the domain name resolution doesn't fail first.

Telecom New Zealand pathetic

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Feb-2007 10:31

Wow... Lance Wiggs says a lot about the current state of telecommunications in New Zealand:

Telecom is to blame, although I do not know whether to point the finger at their lawyers for foot-dragging, their management for under investing, marketing department for over-promising (and over-spending), management for worrying about government regulation rather than customers, senior technical staff for general incompetence, management for not listening to senior technical staff/contractors or contractor Alcatel for under performing.

What do you think?

Update your devices and PCs for the new U.S. and Canada DST

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Feb-2007 10:00

This has been talked about very lightly, and I am worried about it. The U.S. Congress has changed the dates for Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the United States starting in 2007. Canada has adopted similar DST dates.

Microsoft has released an update for Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Windows-based PCs and Windows Mobile devices. I am aware Palm has also released an update for their Palm OS-based devices. Apple has also released some information on how to update Mac OS PCs.

I am not sure what's going on with Nokia and Sony Ericsson - or with any other platform for that matter. I found a post through Darla Mack's blog of a Nokia Time Zone updater. Nokia update information comes with just a small comment, without any information of why, when, who is going to be affected. Not helpful at all.

This is my comment on Darla's blog:

Interesting this is not being publicised a lot by Nokia, since the DST changes affect US and Canada, and starts in 2007. In summary if the devices are not updated, any appointments created before the DST period but falling within the new DST dates will be shifted by one hour when the DST comes into effect. Similarly, appointments created during the new DST period but falling outside the DST period will be shifted an hour when the DST ends.

This will have huge effects on businesses, travel, life as we know it but people are not really moving to update their devices.

Microsoft and Palm have released updated software for their mobile devices and Microsoft released automatic updates for Microsoft Exchange. I haven't heard anything from Nokia or Sony Ericsson. Not a word on how this affects their devices, or what to do to prevent problems.

Are we clear now on how important is this update?

UPDATE: more information and links to downloads for Windows Mobile updates are here.

Linkbait: Digg

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Feb-2007 09:16

I don't regularly visit Digg, the social news site where users vote on stories brought by other users. But I have their RSS feed in my reader.

One of the reasons why I don't regularly visit the site is just because of those spammers, or linkbait tactics usage. Because of the extreme traffic generated by highly voted stories, bloggers really want their "15 minutes of fame". And so do some spammers.

For example, I've noticed that anything with the words "Apple", "Steve Jobs", "Kevin Rose" or "Digg" will get votes. People seem to like to vote with the others, and Digg seems to be the highest ranked term. Diggers digg Digg. Anything with "Digg" on the headline or summary is digg material - and highly voted.

Just for some examples I have selected a few Digg pages so you can check how these headlines or summary texts have nothing to do with Digg itself, but are more like URL drops:

Family-Friendly Social Networking with Famster - Podcast
Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported on the growing influence of Web sites like Digg. Last summer a popular Digg contributor commented favorably on a family-friendly social networking site,, thereby causing traffic to skyrocket at the site. Great podcast showing Famster features hosted by Phil Leigh featuring their executives.

Digg gives noisy debunkers the tools to bury meaningful reporting
There is no doubt that the explosion of the social content website is helping us reach an audience that would not normally read our material here at Infowars and Prisonplanet. However, it is also true that Digg provides debunkers a quick and easy way to bury our content should they choose to cling to their security blanket...

Digg is $42.9 million, whats the best you can find?
Some friends and I were having a competition to see who can get the most expensive domain to come up (I know this is an old article) but I was wondering what you could come up with, the algorithm has been changed since I last saw it...

What about some lovely spam... The link goes to a "Love Calculator", but look at the description:

Australian? Charge any mobile in Australia $6.60 with website hack
OK this has been done to my friends and I think the best way to get it shut down is to publicize it. I know no better place than Digg so .. go to the site I linked. Click through and enter your friend's mobile. Click OK, it will go to a confirmation page. View page source and find txtPin.value != 'NUMBER HERE') .. enter that number, click OK. Done.

This is a "iPhone review", where the author has not come close to any iPhone - mainly because there's nothing to review yet. Really deep stuff:

Iphone and TV Online
Review of IPhone and expanded news on TV shows from a previous Digg post. "[O well,] Apple Iphone is stil great, cause of all its features and well its a new toy about to hit our local streets all over the World, probably in your neighbourhood."

Get my point? Digg is a great way to share things, but it's becoming infested with spam, spam, spam. And unrelated stories.

I like this post about diggers digging digg however. Yes, you can Digg that post on Digg and help the self-perpetuating Digging keep going.

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.

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 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.

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