My window to the world

Microsoft Exchange Outlook Voice Access: really cool

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Feb-2007 22:17

I have been doing some tests with Outlook Voice Access, thanks to AnywhereExchange, a New Zealand company that specialises in hosted e-mail solutions.

Thanks to the guys there for creating a mailbox for me to test on their platform. I have tried a few messages in and out of their environment. It works really well.

The Outlook Voice Access is part of the Unified Message Services provided by Microsoft Exchange 2007. Few years back, while at Unisys, I participated at some projects with voice access to mailboxes, but we had to actually create our own repository, etc...

Now everything is taken care off on Microsoft Exchange 2007, and a single mailbox provides storage for e-mail, voice and fax messages. And you can retrieve these from your client (PC, PDA, smartphone) or through your phone.

You give commands using natural language and send replies with your recorded message.

Their SIP softswitch platform is going to be connected to Compass, meaning that thanks to Number Portability (from 1st April in New Zealand) you can have a soft phone with a standard number being diverted to your phone and if busy or no answer have the call diverted to the platform, where any voice mail will be deposited into your mailbox. And you can receive your voice mail as an attachments to e-mails.

Really neat stuff.

The Microsoft Windows Live confusion

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

Yes, everyone is confused with Windows Live. The main Ideas Live website is not a good starting point to find all the Windows Live services, software, destinations avaialble. So this list with 30 Windows Live services descriptions and screenshots will help you.

Just note that almost all of those are in constant change. It looks like we live in a world of constant Beta Software. I guess developers can always say "Oh, this is a bug, but this is beta...". It just happens that most free services are always "Beta". Are they trying to dig a way out of trouble?

Just yesterday Yahoo! announced Yahoo! Go Mobile was gamma. That's a change, but when are we seeing v 1.0 of any of these things?

I read somewhere a simple question: "why can't people create software like they build bridges?"

Ubuntu 6.10 install on Virtual PC

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Feb-2007 20:27

Today I decided to test Ubuntu on a virtual machine. Ubuntu is a Linux distro, and quite an interesting one. I have installed a copy on an old AMD 2100XP+ machine a year ago, and I was impressed with how fast it installed, and how easily it identified all the devices (USB, network interface, mouse, keyboard, etc).

After installation it wasn't very different from Windows in the sense that it asked for an automatic update of all packages, and that was about 90MB of downloads. But I only used it for a couple of days before reinstalling Windows XP on that box to use as a host for Virtual Server.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to actually try Ubuntu again. This time I decided to install it as a Virtual Machine under Virtual PC. I already have a Windows Vista box running as a host for Virtual Server 2005 R2 with a couple of guest OS, but I decided to run Ubuntu on a Virtual PC because this way I could use it in full screen mode (which can't be done on a Virtual Server).

First I tried downloading it from one the Ubuntu mirrors. Thanks to TelstraClear not peering with other ISPs in New Zealand, the download from would take about five hours, even on my 10Mbps connection at home. At the end it took about 90 minutes to download from Australia.

But since I was looking for some "real" experience, I decided to extend my daily walk with Isabella and visit the local Dick Smith store. I approached one of the guys there and asked simply "Do you have any Linux distribution on CD?"... And the guy just walked straight to a display with Ubuntu and Fedora CDs. I have to say I was actually surprised to find these at the store.

So I paid $9.98 for an Ubuntu CD (which is cool because it comes with both Intel 32 bit and AMD 64 bit versions) and walked away ready for my experience.

Funny thing is, once back home I logged into the #geekzone IRC channel and one of the guys asked "freitasm, why did you buy Ubuntu?"... It just happens that I was recognised at the DSE store and the fact I am trying Ubuntu spread quickly - shock, horror, awe, a Windows users, Microsoft MVP running Linux!

Back to my test, it looks like Ubuntu doesn't like Virtual PC because it runs on 24 bit per pixel and Virtual PC only supports 16 bit per pixel. The system boots from the live cd and the display goes completely distorted. I then tried on Virtual Server, but had the same result.

I did get a recommendation from one of the Geekzone users to look at a page from the Ubuntu website "How to Configure Ubuntu for Microsoft Virtual PC 2004", but even following those recommendation I can't install Ubuntu under Virtual PC. Those instructions are for Ubuntu 6.06, and I have Ubuntu 6.10. Could be that the problem?

I will keep trying a bit more, won't spend too much time on it. I will probably boot from the live CD on an actual PC, but please don't suggest installing the full OS on it, because I don't have a spare box around for testing, and I can't/won't rebuild my laptop.

UPDATE: I've just downloaded Ubuntu 6.06 and it starts perfectly on a virtual machine. It seems Ubuntu 6.10 is the problem. Trying again now.

The Karajoz Great Blend in Wellington

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Feb-2007 11:25

Last (very hot) evening I attended Russell Brown's Karajoz Great Blend at the The Boatshed here in Wellington. It looks like this is the third time this event comes to Wellington, but it's my first time attending it.

What a blast. Beer, wine and free Karajoz Coffee mixed with the extremely hot evening helping a lot of the conversations to flow.

Open source program manager at Google and software evangelist Chris DiBona was the feature guest. He's in New Zealand to network with the local open source community, participate in the Kiwi Foo Camp and have some time with government officials.

The panel examined digital democracy and counted with the participation of Alastair Thompson and British-based Kiwi Rob McKinnon. Thompson is the founder of Wellington-based internet news site Scoop. McKinnon is the brains behind, a website designed to make it easier for Kiwis to keep an eye on our parliament.

The whole series of Karajoz Great Blend events are promoted by Russell Brown’s group weblog site Public Address with the help of Karajoz Coffee Company, Idealog magazine, Hatton Estate Wines and Monteith's Brewing Company (oops, sounds like a TV ad).

Jut before the main talk of the night we had the opportunity to see trash video creators Matt Heath and Chris Strapp of Back of the Y-fame.  The duo showed the audience videos from early work in Dunedin to British TV appearances and a forthcoming feature film, The Devil dared me to.

I always have a laugh when I see Karajoz's posters around. They are really cool (although I think the Italian barista on L'affare is not bad either).


Reason to not open an ASB account

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Feb-2007 10:35

According to the NZ Herald, an ASB teller wanted to charge $5 to split a $20 note because the person asking wasn't an ASB client.

Of course the spokesperson said this was a policy only for large sums of money, and should not be applied to a single operation of such small amount and would investigate.

Here's a good reason to stay away from a bank that invest so much in advertising, but forget to train their people in common sense... The thing is that I simply dislike bad customer service, and I tend not to return to places that can't provide a good experience.

This is from the same bank who brought us (I can't even bother to link to it), with all its security flaws.

Have a HSDPA or CDMA EVDO card and want to use Vista?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Feb-2007 21:44

Here is the thing, you want to use Microsoft Windows Vista on your laptop, but not sure about driver support?

Telecom New Zealand's users seem to be ahead of the game now, since Sierra Wireless announced it has validated its current PC Card and embedded module product portfolio on Windows Vista. Windows Vista WHQL signed drivers are ready for all current Sierra Wireless EV-DO cards, including the AirCard 595, used by Telecom New Zealand (pictured below). You can find more on Sierra Wireless' site.

This is great news, because Telecom is introducing their CDMA EV-DO Rev A service here in Wellington on the 22nd February, so I will be able to use the AirCard 595 on my laptop running Vista.

Meanwhile Novatel still hasn't replied to my query through their support pages about availability of signed drivers for their HSDPA cards, used by Vodafone New Zealand. Vodafone New Zealand has announced their upcoming support for Windows Vista, with the required software for Windows Vista being available shortly, but with no specific date for signed drivers as required for Windows Vista 64 bits.

UPDATE: Vodafone has released drivers for Windows Vista (no 64 bit yet).

Apple DRM: Steve Jobs explains

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Feb-2007 19:58

This is most interesting. Everyone I know that is not using Windows complains about Windows DRM, and lately about Microsoft's implementation of DRM on its new operating system, Windows Vista.

Check Juha's post "DRM behind lack of Vista drivers", where he extends the discussion on New Zealand's Peter Gutmann's "A cost analysis of Windows Vista content protection" paper. This piece of research caused furor around the Internet when released, requiring Microsoft to issue a rebutal with a post on the Windows Vista Blog, plus posts on the Free Software Foundation's Bad Vista campaign site. You can read the complete coverage again from Juha's blog.

But every time someone points on how evil Microsoft is in writing DRM code protection into its software and how great Apple is, I return the question with "what about Apple's own DRM?" (how some people answer a question with another question is something for other discussions).

Steve Jobs himself has posted this on Apple's "Thoughts on Music":

...When Apple approached these companies to license their music to distribute legally over the Internet, they were extremely cautious and required Apple to protect their music from being illegally copied. The solution was to create a DRM system, which envelopes each song purchased from the iTunes store in special and secret software so that it cannot be played on unauthorized devices.

Is it clear now to everyone that Apple also puts DRM into the content it sells, and protects the content on its iPod media players and iTunes client?

Steve Jobs continues:

So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free [on retail CDs], what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none. If anything, the technical expertise and overhead required to create, operate and update a DRM system has limited the number of participants selling DRM protected music. If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies.

Great. See the thing? It's not Apple or Microsoft. It's the music and movie companies. Content distributors.

Move on now. Talk to your lawmaker about this.

Wikipedia: when know nothing people have power (Foo Camp)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Feb-2007 20:09

There's something going on at Wikipedia at the moment that makes me very sad. You see, we have just finished attending the Kiwi Foo Camp (a.k.a. Baa Camp), organised by O'Reilly's Nat Torkington with help from Kiwi Russell Brown and thought it was an event worth of being in that knowledge repository.

It was the first Foo Camp event outside the U.S. and Europe, and we had the privilege of having together Open Source gurus, technology enthusiasts, entrepeneurs, inventors, hackers and even two New Zealand ministers in attendance. People from New Zealand, Australia, U.S., the UK, Denmark got together to create this wonderful knowledge event that happened for three days in Warkworth.

Attendance is the wrong word, because being a non-structured, flat hierachy conference the content is created on the fly, by all participants. We have various accounts here on Geekzone (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) and I am sure you will find other blogs (1) about this.

Now a group decided to post a page on Wikipedia, to record the event. Being an offspring of the original Foo Camp, of course a link from the original entry was placed.

Here comes the thing: someone decided to delete the entry, saying it's not worthy. Not only that, but this person is now posting in the talk page that even the original Foo Camp entry was spam and should be deleted as well.

How ridiculous. This person obviously know nothing about the conference, and is not even interested to know.

It just shows that the power of censoring something has shifted. And again, censoring has been placed in the wrong hands. In one of the sessions, Russell Brown compared the government managed Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand with the public managed Wikipedia. What's happening now just goes to show that while one will be maintaned by officials, albeit with limited number of articles, the other one will be censored by people hiding behind aliases and impossible to argue with.

More on this story from Juha's request for attendees to fill the page.

Some pdfs for your reading pleasure:

Foo Camp on Wikipedia
Kiwi Foo Camp on Wikipedia
Talk page for Kiwi Foo Camp on Wikipedia

Device drivers: and then manufacturers don't even reply...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Feb-2007 11:36

Device drivers are a problem for any OS (except Mac OS I guess). If you are using Linux or Windows Vista I am sure there will be a time you want a device driver and it is not available.

What really annoys me is when you ask a valid question about a current device, and companies such as Novatel Wireless don't even bother replying to requests put through their own on-line customer support service. I've waited for a week now, but no answer.

Those damn HSDPA cards aren't cheap, but Novatel customer support services are for sure.

Chris DiBona seminar in Wellington CreativeHQ Summer of Code

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Feb-2007 11:03

This is an event to attend this week (7 February 2007) here in Wellington:

As you can see we here at Geekzone are one of the sponsor for this talk. For the sake of search engines (which still can't read image contents):

Chris DiBona (Open Source Program Manager - Google)
7th February 2007 (yes, I know, the picture shows the wrong year!) from 11:30am through 1:00pm
Old Government Buildings LT3, Victoria University, Wellington

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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