My window to the world


Clarifying the Toshiba Portégé R400 Sideshow

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jan-2007 21:48

During the Windows Vista Lab RTM we had the chance of receiving some information directly from Toshiba on their new Portégé R400 tablet PC running Windows Vista.

Since then I saw a couple of reviews that simply copied parts of the press release, even using some strange (if not incorrect) names for some technologies used on this new tablet PC, without the correct information being passed on.

I will try bringing some light to this. And it's all very simple, but I haven't seen it explained anywhere before, so let's go...



The Portégé R400 tablet PC comes with an external display based on Windows Vista SideShow technology, that enables laptop manufacturers to include a secondary or auxiliary display in their designs:

This display can be used to easily view the critical information you need, whether the laptop is on, off, or in sleep mode. The convenience provided by these auxiliary displays will save time and battery life by allowing you to quickly view meeting schedules, phone numbers, addresses, and recent e-mail messages without having to start up your laptop.


Toshiba's Personal Information Assistant is the SideShow display. The Personal Information Assistant can display information from your e-mail store, Microsoft Outlook for example. But now comes the interesting part: how the e-mail gets there in first place.

Even though the official press releases (and the "reviews") call the process Microsoft’s Active Notifications, it is actually the good old Microsoft Direct Push system, based on Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 with Service Pack 2. The same system used to push e-mail to Windows Mobile devices.

But the folks at Toshiba did really well and there are actually three ways of getting your e-mail information out on the SideShow display. Two modes require the laptop to be active and running, while the third mode does not require the laptop to be on at all.

To start with it works because the Portégé R400 tablet PC comes with a built-in CDMA EVDO data adapter, connected through Verizon Wireless. Remember, ActiveSync with Direct Push on Windows Mobile devices works only over cellular data connections, but not over Wi-Fi, and it is the same on this tablet PC.

How these three modes work?

The first mode is called Poll Mode and it will actually query the Exchange Server at set intervals for new e-mails and download any new messages. The number of new items will be shown on the SideShow display.

In the Direct Push Mode the laptop will establish a connection to the server, and any new e-mails will be sent down through this path, exactly like on Windows Mobile 5.0 with Direct Push technology (MSFP).

Both these modes require the laptop to "wake-up" or stay on to work.

The third mode is more interesting. Called Direct Push No Wake Mode, it will not require the laptop to wake up, but only the e-mail subjects will be downloaded and shown directly on the SideShow, er, Personal Information Assistant display.

Interesting how those reviews didn't bother explaining this...






"Probably the new units will work with Vista"

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jan-2007 12:53

Talk about a company disconnected with reality... I asked imation about an updated driver for the Disc Stakka CD/DVD storage unit and this is the reply:

Sorry for the inconvenience. We do not have any drivers available for Windows Vista. We do not have the information yet if they will be available.

Probably the new units will work with Vista.

We appreciate your business. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.


The emphasis is mine... Ok, so I buy a disc storage system that is not even future proof? Or if it is they have no clue about when or how?

If they are not aware. they should have been testing drivers since Windows Vista Beta 1. After that we had RC1, RC2 and RTM, available from MSDN. I guess the software developers have MSDN since this product is touted as integrated with Microsoft's library.

Shocking.



Unlimited Potential's Visionary of the Year: Mauricio Freitas

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Jan-2007 23:04

What an evening! Today I visited Wellington's Creative HQ to meet with a group of friends from letuseit.com (Why buy & sell when you can lend, borrow, and hire!) to talk about search engine optimisation plus other stuff.

After the meeting I headed to the What's UP 2007 event in the same building.

The event was very informal with five bloggers, myself included, making predictions for 2007. The bloggers were:

- David Farrar, Kiwiblog
- Hamish MacEwan, local visionary
- Mauricio Freitas, Geekzone
- Philip Fierlinger, turntable technologist
- Tom Beard, Wellurbanite and Wellingtonista's Web-Writing-Wellingtonian of the Year

And guess what? Against stiff competition I won the audience vote to receive the "Unlimited Potential's Visionary of the Year for 2007" award.


So what exactly did I predict? Here's my list:

- Telecom New Zealand CEO Theresa Gattung will leave the company by May 2007, opening the way for a takeover;
- Econet Wireless will not deliver a new cellular network in 2007, and may actually fold;
- Microsoft's new operating System Windows Vista will be used by end users, but enterprise will not widely adopt the new OS until 2008;
- MSM wants to have the same status as blogs, and bloggers will get together in networks and become more like MSM;
- Queen Elizabeth II, By the Grace of God, Queen of New Zealand and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith will abdicate (read more about New Zealand monarchy).

During the event we had the chance to present our predictions and explain how we got to those conclusions. Of course you should take these in the light hearted way they were meant - an entertaining evening with some good yarn in between.

The What's UP 2007 was promoted by Unlimited Potential, a community connecting young IT professionals, based in Wellington, New Zealand.

UPDATE: The event was covered by Ken Lewiss for m-net.



How to get lost with help of Google Maps

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Jan-2007 19:14

Every day (not really) we read about someone silly/fool/idiot enough to follow driving directions from a GPS device and run into a motorway the wrong way, or perform a u-turn where one is not allowed or even possible.

I hope you are not driving from Philadelphia to North Brunswick while following driving directions from Google Maps, or you will get lost:


Go, on try it now...






Could you be the first to buy Windows Vista from a retail store?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Jan-2007 15:34

Thanks again to New Zealand's privileged position in the world (close to the dateline), and due to our timezone, someone here will be the first consumer to purchase a copy of Windows Vista from a retail store.
I found out about this on Nigel Parker's blog, but in summary the Dick Smith Electronics PowerHouse, 5 Ronwood Avenue, Manukau City store will open at midnight, Tuesday 30th January, but you can probably join the queue before then, to chat with other early adopters (and grab a hot chocolate if the evening is cold?).

Apparently this is not the first time this kind of thing has happened, and it was the same when Windows 95 was launched.








The Warehouse goes with Vodafone

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

I just received some interesting piece of news... It goes like this:

... The Warehouse teams up with Vodafone

The company where everyone gets a bargain is set to offer even better service to its customers, thanks to a new 550-connection Wireless Office deal with Vodafone. By using Vodafone New Zealand to mobilise its business, The Warehouse will significantly reduce its overall telecommunication costs. At the same time, customer service can be further improved thanks to staff being contactable first time every time. 

The four-year Wireless Office deal, signed in January 2006, follows an in-depth 45-day mobility pilot and covers both The Warehouse and Warehouse Stationery. Vodafone won the account in a hotly-contested RFP, involving an independent consultant and a 10-month evaluation process.

The Warehouse CIO Owen McCall says duplicated infrastructure such as fixed lines and desk phones, and an oversupply of extensions, was costing The Warehouse a substantial amount of money. “Vodafone has worked really closely with us to understand what mobile solutions will help us improve customer service, improve internal communication and pass on even greater deals to our customers.


“During the mobility trial we ran prior to choosing Vodafone, we identified that mobilising our staff could save us money, purely in time saved, as well as improving efficiency and productivity by providing the right information at the right time and in the right place to our staff.”

Vodafone’s Wireless Office call plan securely connects The Warehouse’s existing internal phone system to its mobiles at low rates. This means it can ditch surplus landlines, and staff can be reached first time – no matter where they are.  The Warehouse’s 550 connections includes 60 3G Vodafone Mobile Connect cards and 30 Windows-based i-mate handheld business devices, as well as more than 200 3G mobiles, to ensure  staff are equipped with the tool that best suits their working style.

Thanks to Wireless Office, The Warehouse staff are able to talk much more, which facilitates improved internal communications, at lower cost to the company. The number of calls made within the Warehouse network has more than doubled from 18 to 40%, while the average bill cost has steadily decreased, going down 16% in the quarter to June 30. All this while the average user is speaking 15 minutes more a month!

Seamless global roaming is also a huge plus for The Warehouse. “We have buyers based internationally and in New Zealand. For our staff to secure the best deals for our customers, they need to be contactable 24/7. With Vodafone, our staff can travel the world and concentrate on doing their jobs – without having to worry whether the technology will work,” says McCall.



Very interesting. Creating virtual locations for their workers, access to on-line resources, extending communications to wherever they are. I know there are some success stories in this area, but not many get out for the public to read about.

Let's just wait for Number Portability to be in full effect in New Zealand from April 2007 to see things changing rapidly. This, with initiatives such as Vodafone At Home will change the telecommunications landscape in this country. If you don't know, Vodafone's At Home service allows customers to have a local calling area prefix that is routed to their cellular handsets within a specified area around their registered residence. Local calls will be free for customers, but outside the At Home area, normal mobile rates apply.





Cool competition coming to Geekzone...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jan-2007 21:45

This is so cool, but I can't post much about it until legal eagles and others are happy. But just for you to start planning: in the very near future we will be running a competition on Geekzone where users will be uploading video content and the best ones will be selected to win some cool prizes.

That's all I can say for now. But prepare your digital video cameras, and check how to upload videos (30 seconds will do) to MSN Soapbox, Google Video or YouTube.

If you want an invite for MSN Soapbox, I still have three available. Just ping me on freitasm @ geekzone.co.nz with a valid Passport or Live Id e-mail address...






The Windows Vista Wow

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jan-2007 12:25

Microsoft Windows Vista is being launched with a "The Wow starts now" campaign - at least in the U.S. I had the chance of participating of a few pre-launch activities, including a two day Windows Vista RTM Lab in Las Vegas, a quick meeting with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates a day before the 2007 International CES, lunch with Jim Allchin, and the first public clue for the Vanishing Point game.

So, yes, it's a "wow" for myself, but the public campaign is going strong now. The Windows Vista Team Blog has put together a Windows Vista bus tour, visiting a number of cities and towns in the U.S. East Coast, but the official launch starts in New York, with the presence of Bill Gates in a special event.

I got an invitation for this, but I clearly can't get to the U.S. twice in a month without leaving lots of work and family matters behind. So I am happy to see something happening here in New Zealand as well.

Microsoft New Zealand has sent an invitation to some people to visit The Digital Home. Nothing very clear yet, but people attending the event will meet in a hotel in the Wellington CBD, and board a bus to take us to a home where Windows Vista, Xbox 360 and other stuff is running the show. We will see different situations including home use, home office, entertainment and more. All this with breakfast.

I've checked and people attending will be allowed to take pictures, so I will bring those and post in the news section on Geekzone after the event.



Travel within large corporations

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jan-2007 10:47

That's exactly how it looked like in the last (and only) corporation I worked for:


The only thing I can't complain is I've never seen anyone wearing my dress ;-)

But really, when I started working there sixteen years before I left, it was policy that any flight longer than five hours should be taken in business class. This covered pretty much coast to coast in the U.S., up and down in Brazil, or any flight from Brazil to the U.S. or European operations.

By the time I moved to New Zealand, the company changed the policy to force everyone to fly coach, on the cheapest available fare (making sometimes impossible to even get an upgrade from our own air points).

I remember once having to fly more than seventeen hours on coach, just to arrive on the other side with a message waiting for me at the hotel, asking to urgently join the project manager on an internal meeting. I couldn't join the meeting because of the time to cross town from the hotel to the offices and because I couldn't move outside the hotel so tired I was of that long flight. Never mind because I found out later the meeting wasn't even urgent, and was just to introduce me to other people in the team. More of a project manager's self importance declaration really. I am glad I took that time to sleep and go over a fifteen time zone difference...

All Dilbert comics and products are (C) Scott Adams and I do not claim it. Click the picture to visit the official website.





Microsoft Habu gaming mouse giveaway

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jan-2007 09:49

Every week during our Geekzone chat (#geekzone IRC channel on zirc.org) I try giving away something. Most of the times I have USB memory keys and some review units. But sometimes I also post some competitions in our forums.

This time I am giving awat a Microsoft Habu gaming mouse. This mouse rocks, and it's really a good addition to any gamer's arsenal of secret weapons...


To be in to win a Microsoft Habu you just need to post a reply on this discussion in our forums... Good luck!





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.

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 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.

Here's is my full disclosure post.

If you'd like to help me keep Geekzone going, please use this Geekzone Amazon affiliate link when placing any orders on Amazon.

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