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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 @ 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 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!

Bill Gates presents the Windows Home Server

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Jan-2007 20:40

This is the clip introducing the Microsoft Windows Home Server, shown by Bill Gates during his keynote at the 2007 International CES:

Rip your CDs the lazy way

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Jan-2007 18:47

This is an interesting service I found while visiting the Lunch at Piero's event during the 200 International CES: Riptopia.

You can purchase a pack of "rip CD" services, with prices between US$1.49 and US$1.99 per disc. Riptopia will send you a UPS (sorry only available in the U.S.) pack and a spindle to hold your discs. After a few days you receive the discs back with mp3 versions of your digital media. They even throw in a free external HDD if you have a collection of more than 300 CDs.

Standard Service is ideal for iPods and wireless transmission of music with digital music libraries in form of MP3 192 kbps. The Premium Service is ideal for high-end media centers/music servers and returns digital music libraries in the form of MP3 320, WMA Lossless, FLAC.

They won't rip DVDs or home made copies - only originals.

How's that for lazy rip?

iPhone Mojo for you

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Jan-2007 13:13

A friend of mine has launched a blog called iPhone Mojo to keep track of all things related to the Apple iPhone device.

Anthony Caruana promised to keep it up to date with such interesting bits of information as the rumours of Australian operator Telstra running some tests with an Apple iPhone down under.

And the BlackBerry Pearl leaves the house

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Jan-2007 12:15

Today I am sending back the Vodafone BlackBerry Pearl. It was an interesting month testing the device, and I have to say my opinion regarding the whole user experience hasn't changed. In summary, I still think the BlackBerry sucks...

There is no question though about its design. The phone looks really nice, and the details and black finish are beautiful. The "pearl" is easy to use for scrolling and clicking, but I didn't like the SureType keyboard that much.
The built-in digital camera is quite good and the pictures are nice and crisp, while the screen is very easy to read, even outdoors.

Everyone loves the BlackBerry because of its e-mail capabilities, and that's where I think it has really performed badly.

First I wanted to install the BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server), which is now free for one licensed user, with up to 15 users per server (the additional licenses are not too costly). But after reviewing the 28 page installation manual I decided not to mess with my Exchange Server, which is running perfectly well, thanks... Instead I decided to use IMAP.

IMAP simply is not good with the BlackBerry solution. The way it works it will only synchronise the Inbox, and since I have server rules moving incoming e-mails to different folders, I lost the ability to see those messages. Then whatever I read on the BlackBerry wasn't marked as read on the server. Neither deletion synchronised between the device and the IMAP server. I couldn't move messages from the Inbox to any other folder, and other problems.

In summary, the e-mail functionality was completely broken for me. There was no way to organise my constant flow of messages with that e-mail client and (lack of) synchronisation.

So, I guess the BES experience could be better, but if folder support is not there, then I will pass... I would just want a BlackBerry Pearl design with a Windows Mobile engine and Exchange Server MSFP under the hood.

Gone 100% Windows Vista here, still want some drivers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Jan-2007 11:51

As of today I have gone 100% Windows Vista for my personal computing needs (note that we still have my wife's Apple iMac around the house though).

You see, I have decided to adopt a laptop as my work machine, thus making way for my current desktop to assume the server role in the house, and the old server box now being sold.

The "old" box is based on an AMD Athlon 2100 XP+ 1.7GHz with 60GB HDD. That box was running Windows XP Pro SP2 as a host, and with Virtual Server 2005 R2 I had two Windows Server 2003 virtual machines (for my Exchange Server and for my Microsoft SQL 2005 testing). This machine is being replaced with my desktop, an Intel P4 HT 3GHz with 160 GB SATA HDD and already running Windows Vista Ultimate RTM. I am also using a 1GB SD card for ReadyBoost.

Virtual Server 2005 R2 runs perfectly well on Windows Vista RTM, and booting the Exchange server is now mere two minutes instead of the previous nine minutes required to have the server fully operational. Also browsing some of the menus and options on the Exchange Server is much faster.

The new Acer Ferrari 5000 (AMD Turion 64 bit dual core 2GHz, 160GB SATA HDD, 2GB RAM and Windows Vista Ultimate) is replacing the Toshiba M200 Tablet PC (Intel Pentium Centrino, 1.5GHz, 60GB HDD, 1GB RAM with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition) and it too has a 1GB SD card for ReadyBoost.

The Acer Ferrari 5000 outperforms my desktop (now the server), with a Windows Experience Index of 4.8 compared with the desktop's 3.8.

The main reason for this change is because I wanted a solution that would provide me full mobility. While I used the Tablet PC a lot while out and about, I always had to synhronise its contents with my deskop, and the laptop wasn't powerful enough to be my main work machine. But the Acer Ferrari is grunty enough to replace the desktop and provide me with the mobility I need.

A couple of things regarding drivers for Windows Vista though... While most (not all) existing drivers may work on Windows Vista 32 bit, it is really hard to find signed drivers for Windows Vista 64 bit. Things are looking good though, with the release of Hamachi's new version with proper signed drivers - this is one of the most important applications for me, allowing secure private access to my LAN at home and to the Geekzone server, which is hosted somewhere else in the cloud.

I am still waiting for proper signed drivers from Vodafone for its Merlin XU870 HSDPA card (so far I've seen the new VMC release, but drivers are not ready for Windows Vista 64 bit) and I am worried about the Disc Stakka not working even with Windows Vista 32 bit.

Another annoying problem is a compatibility problem between Skype 3.0 and the 64 bit OS. I was told this was already reported, but I haven't seen any update yet.

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 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 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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