My window to the world


Novatel Merlin card and Windows Vista

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Feb-2007 11:15

A friend commented on my previous post about the Sierra Wireless Aircard 595 CDMA EVDO card working on Windows Vista. At the end of the post I bash Novatel and their lack of 64 bit drivers for their Merlin XU870 HSDPA card.

He agreed to let me post his comments publicly:

Until Vista 64 bit becomes the mainstream OS for most people, I don't think it's right to dismiss the Merlin card because it doesn't have drivers for it yet. Not even Microsoft is plugging Vista 64 at this stage, so I don't see any point in being a hardliner over it.

Otherwise you end up sounding like a FOSS troll who refuses to touch anything that doesn't run on a certain Linux distro or contains a firmware BLOB with proprietary code (just as an example).


Fair enough comments, and I agree entirely. I am probably the only person I know around my inner geek circle (including the coffee group and user groups), running Windows Vista 64 bit. And so far almost all devices I use have 64 bit signed drivers, including a very old Epson C45 inkjet printer, but excluding the Disc Stakka, and Windows Mobile devices (I can't use them as a modem via USB because of lack of drivers).

The reason why I am on top of Novatel though is because they have a support option on their website, where one can log a question, and wait for a reply. Guess what? Novatel support is crap, and after two weeks I didn't get a reply to my question. Then I updated the question with a follow up and after four weeks I still didn't had a reply.

I know they got the questions because I received an e-mail with a case number, and if I click the link it's visible with all dates and times. Why their support people (are there any?) won't reply to a question is simply beyond me.

Not it's not like I am asking something out of the blue. In fact I do have a Merlin XU870 card here, so I am asking a legitimate question.

So, yes, I am not giving it a hard time because of not having drivers, but because they have sub-standard support services.





Telecom CDMA EV-DO Rev A: Windows Vista drivers work!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Feb-2007 19:39

Yay! I just came back from a meeting with Martin Butler, Telecom New Zealand's General Manager Business Products and I managed to get a brand new Sierra Wireless Aircard 595 CDMA EV-DO Rev A PC card for testing.

The main problem with "testing" is that I use Windows Vista 64 bit on my laptop.

But all went ok. What can I say? I just plugged the Aircard 595 and Windows Vista automatically downloaded WHQL 64 bit signed drivers for the card (yes, I was connected to my home LAN at the time). I then installed the Telecom Watcher software and in no time I had my laptop connected to the new Telecom CDMA EV-DO Rev A network, launched today here in Wellington.


In the meantime, Novatel has not replied to my query about Windows Vista 64 bit drivers (bad Novatel, bad), and Vodafone has announced they have plans to support 64 bit in the future - but no information on when.



Telecom New Zealand backpedals and remove un-capped broadband plan Go Large

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Feb-2007 09:57

Well, after months of complaints from people who couldn't even consistently browse websites or download e-mails, Telecom New Zealand has removed their Go Large plan.

The Go Large plan was supposed to be a non-cap, max speed DSL plan, with managed bandwidth.

Managed bandwidth, you ask? What is this? Well, when the plan started Telecom New Zealand told everyone that all P2P (peer-to-peer), NNTP (usenet newsgroups) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) traffic would be "managed", that is throttled so that the bandwidth consumption wouldn't affect users in other (capped) plans, or even web browsing and e-mail traffic.

Now Telecom cancelled the plan and wrote this on their web site:

An error on our part has meant that since 8 December the process to manage traffic on the GO LARGE plan has been different to what was originally intended and communicated to customers. This may have affected the experience some customers had on this plan.

We are currently communicating this message via email or letter to customers who have been on the GO LARGE Plan between 8 December 2006 and the end of February 2007.

As acknowledgement of this error we will be crediting customers for the monthly GO LARGE plan charges for the applicable time they have been on this service between 8 December 2006 and the end of February 2007.



Wow! Look at the revised Traffic Management:


What type of Internet usage is likely to be affected by traffic management on the Go Large plan?
All of your traffic including web surfing, email, downloading, streaming, file sharing or gaming will be managed. This is to try to ensure our network performs as effectively and efficiently as possible for the majority of our customers.

When does traffic management apply on the Go Large plan?
Traffic management will be applied to the Go Large plan 24 hours a day. It will be more noticeable during times of network congestion or at peak times when it is applied more vigorously. Generally, peak times are likely to occur between 4pm and midnight each day.

Although traffic management is an effective way of managing congestion, it won't remove it from our network or the internet entirely. During busy periods, there are still heaps of people surfing the web, downloading and emailing, so you are still likely to see some reduced speeds at these times.



In other words, from at least early December Telecom had problems and couldn't make the difference between web browsing, gaming or P2P traffic, affecting the experience for everyone on its Go Large plan.

All while their CSRs kept saying "there's nothing wrong" to irate customers who could barely use the service.

For some time, the advice in our Geekzone forums to users on Go Large was to either change plans or change ISP. This was the most viable alternative and always gave good results. Shame Telecom couldn't see under their noses.

What a fiasco Telecom New Zealand. Who's at fault? Management, Call Centre or your network engineers?






Vodafone NZ 3G, broadband and Auckland traffic

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Feb-2007 09:01

I am waiting for the boarding call for my flight to Wellington. I had to catch a cab ride from Auckland CBD to the aiport two hours ahead of the time, just to be sure I'd be here on time for check-in.

It looks like the Auckland Traffic Engineering team forgot all about synchronising traffic lights, or traffic lights at all. Lots of roundabouts here, with traffic coming from opposite directions, with one flow crossing the path of the incoming commuter flow, meaning no give away is possible and meaning the traffic just won't flow. At least 30 minutes wait to go through one roundbout. Ridiculous.

Then I tried to access the Internet at the Auckland airport. Crap service. No wi-fi facilities. But talking about "service", let's try connecting with Vodafone New Zealand's 3G network... Almost no go!

A picture tells a thousand words. Just check the horrible service you get from Vodafone 3G in the airport. An airport, with thousands of people coming and going, business deals waiting to happen, blog posts waiting to happen:





The caffeine hit or a geek meetup

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Feb-2007 07:11

It all started because I work from home and I wanted to meet people in town. The first to come around was Darryl Burling, even before he joined Microsoft. Then came Craig Pringle, Peter Torr Smith and others. Australian Nick Randolph joined us during the time he was doing some contract work here in Wellington.

The routine is established: every Wednesday from 1:30pm people know I will be at Astoria Cafe for coffee, sometimes earlier for lunch. I bring my laptop and do some work from there. The folks at Astoria are cool with having a bunch of geeks using a couple of tables to spread their gadgets, tablet PCs, latptops and UMPCs around. It helps that they have a couple of wi-fi hotspots (Telecom New Zealand and Cafenet) right there.

Nick Randolph is back in Australia and is starting a similar "coffee group" in Perth:


Sorry about the late post about this, but tomorrow will be the first gathering of the Perth Caffeine Addicts - only kidding (well except for the Perth and the Caffeine bits).  One of the best things I did when I was in NZ was attend Mauricio's Geekzone weekly coffee group and I thought the concept could work well here in Perth.  So tomorrow, with support from Mitch and Alastair of the Perth .NET Community of Practice, we are inviting anyone who has an interest in developer technologies to join us for an informal chat at Tiger Tiger which is located here in the heart of the Perth CBD (opposite Star Surf Shop) from 1:30pm tomorrow.

Although this event is put together by the co-ordinators of the .NET user group I would like to take this opportunity to invite anyone who is doing application (be it web, smart client or otherwise) development here in Perth using any piece of technology to join us and talk shop.  We will be meeting each week, same time, same place, so if you can't make it this week, why not join us next week. 



We do have the occasional visitor to the group and we've also had someone just approach our table asking "is this the Geekzone meeting" or "Are you Mauricio, mind if I join you?".

People from Auckland say this never happens there. Doesn't anyone want to start a coffee group that way?





Do as I say: MPAA violates software license

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Feb-2007 11:12

Found this through Digg (go on, if you have a Digg account, digg it too):


The author of ForestBlog, a blogging tool, has discovered that the MPAA was using his code in violation of his license. He gives the code away for free, but requires that users link back to his site and keep his name on the software. The MPAA deleted all credits and copyright notices from his work, and used it without permission. They ripped him off:


Way back in October last year whilst going through the website referals list for another of my sites I stumbled across this link. That's right, my blogging software is being used by the MPAA (Motion picture Association of America); probably one of the most hated organisations known to the internet. Cool, I thought, until I had a look around and saw that all of the back links to my main site had been removed with nary a mention in the source code!
Now, as Patrick Robin (the software author) notes, this probably wasn't the outcome of a high-level board meeting wherein the executive committee decided to rip him off. It was more likely the work of a lazy Web person at the MPAA who was cutting corners at work.


But the MPAA believes that employers should be held responsible for employees' copyright infringements. They want you to know that if you download movies at work, your employer will also be named in the suit. Infringe as we say, not as we do.



Read the complete entry on Boing Boing.

Incredible, isn't it. The all powerfull MPAA, which protect the movie industry "rights".

That's why I think our lawmakers shouldn't be influenced by foreigner lobby groups on these matters. They never seem to have the citizens' interests at heart. I agree on fair copyright laws, but some of the draconian attitudes and hostile acts against consumers, reported on everyday media just don't seem increase the content producer's share in the cake, and doesn't seem to protect the legitimate consumer who purchase over priced CDs and DVDs due to distribution costs.

Isn't it time for the recording and movie industries to find another way to distribute their products? What about a fair use license, with no crippling DRM, at good prices? I am probably one of the few people I know who actually buy DVDs to keep and play again and again at home. I wouldn't mind buying digital media over the internet for playback on my digital system - if the price was right and fair use licenses applied.








Where is HSDPA for Vodafone Treo 750v? Telstra is launching theirs

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Feb-2007 09:10

In continuation of my rant on why, oh why, users don't have the power to update their Windows Mobile devices, here comes another gem...

Vodafone (worldwide) had an exclusive deal with Palm to launch the first Window Mobile-powered GSM/UMTS Treo in Europe and other markets, with some customisations and called Treo 750v.

Back when the Treo 750v was launched, Vodafone hinted that it would support its HSDPA services, with speeds much higher than UMTS. Lots of registry hacks showed up allowing users to enable this faster service, but with side effects.

The deal ran out last month and we saw AT&T (Cingular) launching the Palm Treo 750 in the U.S. and shortly after Palm started selling the Palm Treo 750 directly in Europe, not going throuh any operator. The Treo 750 comes with HSDPA enabled.

Now Telstra has announced the launch of Palm Treo 750 in Australia, running on their Next G network, based on HSDPA. By the way, I am not sure what speeds the Treo 750 can reach, but Telstra has just switched on their 14.4 Mbps HSDPA service, just a couple of months after launching a nationwide brand net network.

What about Vodafone Nw Zealand? We have not heard anything about the promised HSDPA ROM update for Windows Mobile since the Treo 750v launch, almost six months ago. And their network is still crawling at 1.8 MBps almost everywhere where it is available (which is not much a large footprint to start with).

Are they still planning to release the Treo 750v update to enable HSDPA on this handset?

My original rant was about users not being able to download updates directly from the manufacturer or an OS upgrade directly from Microsoft. This just shows that having a long chain (Microsoft, OEM, distributor,mobile operator) just hurts the user and don't add anything.



Yahoo!Xtra

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Feb-2007 21:22

This is a sneak peek on Yahoo!Xtra, launching 1st March 2007, when Telecom New Zealand's Xtra will part ways with Microsoft's MSN:


Reading the page is an interesting exercise. I wonder how many users connected to Xtra will realise they don't have to adopt Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Messenger, and they can keep using Hotmail and Windows Messenger. Or is Xtra going to "recommend" people to change over?

Also it's not like people couldn't use Yahoo! Mail before if they wanted to. So really it's not "good things happen when Xtra meets Yahoo!" by any stretch of imagination (except for the marketing folks at both companies I guess).

What is Microsoft doing after 1st March? It is still a mystery, nothing announced yet. And we are only two weeks away from the changeover date.

What's going to be interesting is to keep an eye on Xtra's rankings. Currently XtraMSN ranks high in New Zealand, but I bet it's because XtraMSN is the default page for Internet Explorer for all machines with locale=NZ. I wonder what's the default page going to be after 1st March, since that is a redirect within Microsoft's domain. Or is there another contract just for the homepage?

Another things is the "priority change". Until now the portal was "XtraMSN", but from 1st March it is going to be "Yahoo!Xtra". Is just because it sounds better, or is the name showing who's the boss?









Where in the world is Mauricio?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Feb-2007 15:07

Just an update if you happen to be in any of the following places:

Auckland, New Zealand (20 - 21 February 2007)
Brisbane, Australia  (28 February 2007)
Sydney, Australia (1 March 2007)
Melbourne, Australia (6 - 7 March)
Seattle, U.S. (10 - 15 March 2007)

I am going around a lot this month and next, participating as a panelist in a seminar with other Google AdSense publishers in New Zealand and Australia, and then attending the Microsoft MVP Summit 2007, with a keynote from Bill Gates.

If you are in any of these places on these dates, let me know and we might have a coffee and chat.





Windows Vista Video competition: keep them coming

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Feb-2007 14:59

I am just reading Nigel Parker's Blog on MSDN, and found out that he is planning to use some of the entries to our (Microsoft and Geekzone) Windows Vista Competition as part of the Microsoft 2007 Technical Briefing in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.

Make sure you create a 30 seconds (less or more is ok) video about what you love about using Windows Vista, upload to Soapbox on MSN or YouTube and fill the entry form in our Windows Vista Competition.

You will be in to win some cool prizes, including Microsoft Zune and copies of Windows Vista Ultimate. And be famous during the Tech Brief.








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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