My window to the world

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.

The Google AdSense Roadshow

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Feb-2007 20:14

This week (20th February 2007) I was in Auckland participating as a panelist in the Google AdSense Roadshow (Australia/New Zealand). I am proud to have been invited to represent the New Zealand publishers in the panel, side-by-side with Australians Tim van Brugge and Paul Greenberg. Those are two great guys and I had lots of fun with their stories - lots to learn about Internet business.

The panel was moderated by Deepak Ramanathan, Google Marketing Manager - Ad Products, and the technical session was led by Michael Gutner, Manager of AdSense Australia/New Zealand. These guys are both based in Sydney, Australia.

The networking opportunity was incredible. I met some of the Auckland-based publishers (some already running AdSense, some not) and it was very good to get fresh views of the current New Zealand publishing and advertising market.

If you have confirmed your presence but failed to attend the event... Shame on you. A great opportunity lost!

Next stop is Brisbane (27th February 2007), Sydney (1st March 2007) and Melbourne (7th March 2007). I will be in the panel in all those three cities, so come along and say hello when you see me there.

I'm arriving back from Melbourne on the 8th March (although I will be flying home between events), just to fly a couple of days later to attend the Microsoft MVP Summit in Seattle. Busy days ahead!

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?

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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