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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




Foo Camp Day 2 and Day 3

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Feb-2007 09:43

I am back at the base, after an uneventful trip back home from Warkworth to Auckland by road, then flying down to Wellington.

The weekend was great, in terms of content, company and weather. Perfect for Kiwi Foo Camp (Baa Camp as we are calling it). Couldn't be better.

Sessions for Day 2 started at 10am. Of course, because the night before we had dinner, drinks, games and a light show brought by a couple of guys who hacked some bodysuits with LEDs and other lights, dancing in the middle of the field in the darkness of the night. Awesome stuff. Check the Foo Camp pictures on Flickr through the links in this post.

The first session I attended was "Open Source and consumer software", led by Ben Goodger (Google) and Asa Dotzler (Mozilla). Interesting take on developing software aimed at end users, interactions with developer and other bits.

I missed the Mozilla 3.0 session, but I heard all about it later from Juha. New features in Mozilla 3 will allow developers to create "disconnected" web applications that will work even when no Internet connectivity is available, by caching data required to process user's requests. Think of this feature used with Google Mail and Google Calendar for example and you can imagine what can be done.

Russell Brown, David Slack, Mark Cubey had a very interesting take on "Stories are the new data" and preserving our national knowledge, that non-copyrighted content (almost) everyone has in their heads, in the garden shed, in the back of the garage. Russell's comments on how Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand (government sponsored, experts only) compares with the people's Wikipedia and why Te Ara doesn't seem so important in the context of preserving digital culture, timely information and more. Good stuff Judith Tizard (New Zealand Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister with Auckland Issues, Minister of Consumer Affairs) was there. She actually attended both Day 2 and Day 3 of Foo Camp.

Tomizone's Steve Simms conducted a session on Wi-Fi and broadband sharing, with an appearance by Stan Swann, the guy who created the poor man's cookware wi-fi enhancer. Believe it or not, with a $10 frypan or wok you can increase the range of a USB Wi-Fi adapter to up to 3KM with line of sight. That's incredible and has been used in poor nations and some other areas to increase Internet penetration.

The session with New Zealand entrepreneur (and one of Kiwi Foo sponsors) Rod Drury gave us a peek into his latest venture. It's an accounting package that will take MYOB out of the business. But not a simple accounting package, but a Web 2.0 software as a service approach. His team designed a sleek web interface for one of the (in my opinion) most boring tasks any company will have. Xero.com is going live soon.

And what about "Fucking big websites"? This was the session lead by Arthur Bergmann, Operations Architect at Six Apart, of Typepad and LiveJournal fame. We learned about memcache, perlbal, gearman, dataqueue, mogilefs and more. We also found out that there are about 2,000,000 Typepad users and at any given instant there are about 500,000 people reading LiveJournal, with 100,00 to 200,000 http connections live. Also got some interesting tidbits like Facebook using memcache and dipping between 20,000 to 25,000 times to the cache system for data lookups.

Apparently they have a mix of MySQL 4 and MySQL 5 databases in the system, just "because it's a pain to upgrade", and they use "whatever works".

Chris DiBona ran a session on the OLPC (One Laptop per Child) program. Good stuff, and interesting to see the programme going ahead. Slowly but getting there.

Web statistics firm Hitwise was there and Luke Welling presented a session called "Lies, damn lies and flamebait". The most impressive sequence of charts was a comparison of Digg and Slashdot, showing that in October 2006 Digg crossed the big geek site and shot up in traffic. But then he changed the charts and showed how these two websites are still just a blip when compared to CNN.com for example. What an eye opener...

The funniest thing in his session was the discussion about the demographics segmentation called "PRIZM". What was funny about it? Well, the segment who most visits bittorrent.com is called "Shotguns and pickups". We all guessed was something to do with Wal-Mart not having DVDs for all their usual shoppers...

The "flamebait" in the session was a traffic comparison between all flavours of Linux (Redhat, Devian, Gentoo, Ubuntu, Suse) and databases. Very interesting material.

Even after a couple of suggestions directly from a Microsoft employee I still couldn't connect my laptop to the wireless LAN. Something to do with the drivers in use. Funnily enough, when I got back home there was a driver update available, and I bet this would have solved my problem. Damn.

A most interesting weekend, and I would do it again. I know Foo Camps are by invitation only, and I feel honoured to have been invited to the first one ever done in New Zealand, so here's hoping something happens again next year. Well done Nat. Thanks for that!








Kiwi Foo Camp (Baa Camp) Flickr Set

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Feb-2007 00:02

I am back home after the very successful Kiwi Foo Camp (Baa Camp). Now that I have Internet access again I will post Day 2 and Day 3 impressions later, but for now I have just finished uploading my pictures to Flickr, so click through to check my Kiwi Foo set.

Search on Flickr for the Kiwi Foo tag or for Baa Camp tag for more pictures.



Foo Camp Day 1

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Feb-2007 10:19

What a first day... Got a ride with Juha from the Auckland airport to Warkworth where the Foo Camp is being held, and arrived here to a huge meeting of people from all over the world, representing all sorts of tech knowledge and orientations. Our first official session after dinner was with David Cunliffe, Communications Minister. Really good stuff and full of interesting information.

After this we had a crazy experience with a light show and a four way stereo sound installation, with four cars blasting out the music (yes, it was in the car park).

The Foo Camp is very unstructured with participants creating their own sessions and people can join anything they want. The Open Source movement is heavily represented here, from big names (Mozilla, Google) through less known but but not less interesting companies from Europe, U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

My Internet connectivity here is absolutely bad. I am on plan D already, and it goes like this: my Windows Vista laptop refuses to connect to any of the three wireless networks available (not that they are fast anyway, but it would be good). I don't know why, probably a compatibility problem with the Access Points? I see a lot of people using Mac laptops here, and even the odd Windows XP will connect. Am I the only one disconnected? Shall I buy a Mac laptop next?

I then tried Vodafone 3G. No go. We all know Vodafone coverage outside Wellington, Auckland and other main centres is absolutely appalling. You are lucky to get two bars on GPRS here.

Next I tried Telecom EVDO. Good signal reception but Telecom New Zealand in all their wisdom made a point of crippling the Treo 700wx Bluetooth and there's no Bluetooth DUN (dial up networking) on this device anymore, so it is useless. The Apache wasn't much better either with its Bluetooth DUN freezing every fiftee minutes, as we all know (but Telecom denies the problem).

So I am posting this on GPRS, and that's all I will do. It's impossible to read e-mails or even browse RSS feeds.

This is going to be an unconnected weekend, I see.



Baa Camp - New Zealand's own Foo Camp

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Feb-2007 09:09

In a couple of hours I am off to Auckland, where I will join others for the Baa Camp, our own Foo Camp, organised by Nat Torkington.

The list of institutions being represented include Google, Mozilla, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and others (one hundred and something people will be attending).

It will be a fun weekend, lots to learn and share...

More when back.





Windows Vista Video Competition

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Feb-2007 23:11

We here at Geekzone and Microsoft New Zealand are running a "Windows Vista Video Competition". It's easy to enter, and it's fun - because you have to create a video spot about using Windows Vista and upload to Soapbox or YouTube.

If you need an invitation to use Soapbox on MSN to upload your video for this competition, you can follow the instructions in the competition page and we will forward you an invite.


The prizes are really cool, and include Microsoft Zune media players and copies of Windows Vista Ultimate.

Go ahead, start creating your movies and "wow" everyone.






Windows Mobile Device Center: frustrating

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Feb-2007 22:24

I have been using Windows Mobile devices for years, and with all the problems I see people reporting, I never had problems with ActiveSync and Windows XP. Not even over Bluetooth - I always had all my devices synchronising reliably over Bluetooth.

I have now installed Windows Mobile Device Center on my Windows Vista laptop. How frustrating.

USB connection is very unreliable. My i-mate Jasjar connects, but neither the Palm Treo 750v or Palm Treo 700wx will connect, instead showing an error - and no message on why the error, no event log entry, nothing.



Next I tried ActiveSync over Bluetooth. Forget it. It took me three to six attempts on each Pocket PC to manage to pair the devices with my laptop. And I did not achieve ActiveSync over Bluetooth for any of my devices. Incredible because WMDC has an explicit option to allow sync over Bluetooth, actually removing the requirement for a COM port to be defined.

What a piece of software this one. Not good.



Windows Mobile Device Center for Windows Vista final available

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Feb-2007 20:52

At last the Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC) is out of beta, and available for download now:

Mobile Device Center x86


Mobile Device Center x64


Found through Josh's Windows Weblog.





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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