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The Vanishing Point Game present at Bill Gates' 2007 CES keynote

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Jan-2007 18:37

A subtle reference to the Vanishing Point Game was shown during the 2007 CES keynote. Justin Hutchinson, Group Product Manager, was demonstrating Microsoft Windows Vista ShadowCopy and showed a Microsoft Word document being formatted with preview and other fancy things. One of the documents used for the demo was the "Fountain Show Planning":

Microsoft Windows Ultimate Extras

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Jan-2007 15:00

During tonight's 2007 CES keynote speak Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates introduced the Windows Vista Ultimate Extras, a series of add-on software that will be available to those users running Windows Vista Ultimate edition on their PCs.

We had a session with the Windows Vista Ultimate Extras team during the Windows Vista RTM Lab, and here are the details...

Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate combines advanced infrastructure features of a business-focused operating system, all of the management and efficiency features of a mobility-focused operating system, and all of the digital entertainment features of a consumer-focused operating system. In summary, it's the version with all options enabled.

Enough said? Not yet. The Windows Vista Ultimate Extras add more software to that package. It brings some cutting edge programs, bundled with some innovative services. These packages will be available for download from the Windows Update service, exclusively to owners of Windows Vista Ultimate.

The first "extra" is an enhanced version of Windows Hold 'em, a poker game.

But the really cool thing to come out is Windows DreamScene, a full motion video desktop, capable of showing high definition visualitions on the desktop at 30 fps.

Bummer you can't see the things moving on those pictures: flames and river move like in a movie. Very nice, and you can select your own home made videos for this.

From Monday 8 January 2007 you consumers will be able to check blogs, showcased configurations, community forums and more through, a site exclusively dedicated to Windows Vista Ultimate Extras.

Windows photography: Art Wolfe

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Jan-2007 12:33

What an incredible session here during the Windows Vista RTM Lab. We have just been introduced to Art Wolfe, the photographer behind the background images used on Windows Vista. Each one of us here all received an autographed copy of Edge of the Earth Corner of the Sky. Worth visiting his web site.

Art Wolfe's photographs are recognized throughout the world for their mastery of color, composition, and perspective. His vision and passionate wildlife advocacy affirm his dedication to his work. Wolfe's photographic mission is multi-faceted. By employing artistic and journalistic styles, he documents his subjects and educates the viewer. His unique approach to nature photography is based on his training in the arts and his love of the environment.

Also worth checking how Art uses Windows Vista.

Visiting the Microsoft Product Pavilion, Bill Gates

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Jan-2007 07:44

This is the second day of the Windows Vista RTM Lab, and we have a long string of activities planned. The day started at 7am (yes, on a Sunday), so that the group could move to the Las Vegas Convention Centre, grab their CES badges and visit the Microsoft Product Pavillion stand, just outside the LVCC.

We weren't allowed to take pictures inside because of our NDA - but all will be be revealed later tonight after Bill Gates's keynote at the 2007 CES.

Talking about Bill Gates, he arrived at the Microsoft Product Pavilion about 9:30am and our group had a private meeting with Mr. Gates. He answered some of our questions regarding technology, the new Microsoft Windows Vista, the launch activites and about his plans to leave the day-to-day at Microsoft and dedicate his time to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Back to The Orleans we have more sessions, and at 6:30pm our group will move to The Venetian to attend the keynote.

Exciting day ahead!

Windows Vista RTM Lab

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jan-2007 09:11

The Microsoft Windows Vista RTM Lab has finally started. I arrived here in Las Vegas at midnight after a long flight, including a 5 hour delay in Los Angeles and a lost suitcase (found and delivered at 3am)...

But everything is back on track, including Internet access (thanks to Cingular). The sessions are under way, and here are some screenshots:

As you can see the wireless LAN access is a bit "crowded" in this room. A lot of people here...

The sessions include:

- 3P Hardware
- Day in life of a bug
- 3P Software
- Vista UX backstory
- Toshiba PC innovations
- Windows Live
- AMD Platforms
- Vista & Photography
- Office 12 / 2007

Some of these sessions are delivered under NDA, so I will try and post later with a summary of information we are allowed to share...

Communications: plan A, plan B, plan C

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Jan-2007 15:06

I made it to Los Angeles (LAX) on my way to Las Vegas to attend the Microsoft Windows Vista Lab and the 2007 CES. And the new laptop Acer Ferrari 5000 made it too. You see, DHL managed to deliver the box just 90 minutes before I left to the airport.

I got here and start trying my "communications plan". But so far the only thing working is the T-Mobile WiFi Hotspot... Keep reading:

- The Vodafone Treo 750v: disappointment. I turned the radio on, and it showed I am roaming on Cingular. I can send and receive SMS, but that's it. I can't place or receive phone calls! If I try I receive a "Network Busy" message on the Phone application. I noticed a girl sitting next to me during the terminal change and asked her if she was using Cingular (what a line, right?). She was, so I thought it could be only a problem when calling overseas... So I changed the SIM to the i-mate Jasjar I brought as Plan B and it worked. It seems the Vodafone Treo 750v is not "roaming friendly". I am going to follow up this with Vodafone New Zealand.

- The Merlin XU870: disappointment. Even though there's a post on Geekzone with precise instructions on how to install the Vodafone VMC software on Windows Vista, I found another problem: the laptop is running Windows Vista RTM 64 bit, and those instructions won't work, so...

- Boingo Hotspot: I have an account with Boing and would prefer to use it over T-Mobile Hotspot, but for some reason Boingo won't log me in through Internet Explorer on Windows Vista. I am going to download Firefox soon...

- Plan Z was to use the Vodafone Treo 750v with the Cingular SIM card over Bluetooth, but seeing the Vodafone Treo 750v is not "roaming friendly", I might have to resort to using WiFi at the hotel and conference...

UPDATE: I arrived at the hotel at midnight, after a five hour delay in Los Angeles due to a delayed airplane. Then United Airlines misplaced my suitcase and promised to deliver at the hotel sometime during the evening. Now to the communications Plan D, which actually works!

I found out that the Palm Treo 750v will work while roaming if I manually set the UMTS network to 1900MHZ/850MHz. It seems the Auto setting is not working for some reason.

Next, as promised, the Cingular SIM card was waiting for me here. I inserted it into the Palm Treo 750v and it automatically loaded the appropriate APN configuration and I had no problems connecting to Cingular's network. So instead of using the Merlin XU870 HSDPA card (which won't work on Windows Vista 64 bit) I decided to keep the i-mate Jasjar for my voice communications and use the Palm Treo 750v as a Bluetooth modem. It all works perfectly this way.

Internet access during CES

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Jan-2007 11:49

Answering my previous request for a better solution than using Vodafone New Zealand's data roaming through their partner networks in the U.S. and their (Vodafone's) absurd price of NZ$30/MB, Cingular came to the rescue and I will have mobile Internet access during my stay in Las Vegas to attend the 2007 International CES through their cellular services. Thanks, Cingular!

Today I got an e-mail from DHL with a tracking number so I should have a Cingular SIM card ready for use when I get to Las Vegas.

I'd also like to thank Rocky S., who contacted me asking if I had already sorted my mobile Internet access for my stay in Las Vegas, offering his Verizon EVDO card as a loaner if I still had a need for that. Thanks Rocky, as explained before I now have this sorted, but it was very kind of you.

Also as a part of my full disclosure, I am flying to Las Vegas as a guest of Microsoft, part of their Windows Vista Lab, a series of activities that will take our group throuhg a more in depth view of Microsoft Windows Vista.

Microsoft MVP Summit registration done

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Jan-2007 22:00

Done... I've just finished the registration to attend the Microsoft MVP Summit, which will be happening in Seattle, 12 - 15 March 2007. I am planning to be there from 10 March throughout the event and got the tickets for this trip and accomodation sorted. All ready to go!

The last MVP Summit was a blast, and Steve Ballmer delivered the keynote. This time Bill Gates will keynote the event, and this is going to be another highlight:

The Microsoft MVP Program is proud to announce that Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates will deliver the keynote at the 2007 Global Summit! Save the date - the Global Summit will take place March 12-15, 2007 in Seattle at the Washington State Convention Center and at Microsoft Corporation’s main campus in Redmond, Washington. Based on MVP feedback, you can expect a more dynamic and interactive atmosphere this year during the Executive Day sessions and we can’t think of a better way to kick it off than with remarks from BillG!

Great stuff... You can find more about the Microsoft MVP Programme here, and my own MVP Profile here.

DHL delay still on...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Jan-2007 09:21

It's unbelievable. "DHL Express Service" are certainly words that could not be in the same sentence, at least in this case.

A shipment sent out from the U.S. on the 22nd December has been here in New Zealand since the 26th and waiting for customs to clear it.

I called DHL every morning to be told a different story. "Our broker in Wellington is on holiday until next week" (really, so no one in New Zealand's capital is receiving parcels coming from overseas?), or "The shipment came unmanifested, our fault, but we asked for the papers to be faxed already", through "The sender did not provide us with documents, we have called them to ask for those", and other lame excuses.

The fact is that something I needed here before my trip to Las Vegas is not going to arrive. And the DHL service people are not helping at all. They provide mixed information, wrong information and all sorts of excuses.

Is there anyone reading this that can actually reach for someone clued up at DHL New Zealand?

Note that until now I had never had a problem or reason to complain about DHL services, and always used them for my courier needs. But I think I will simply have to shift to FedEx or some other alternative.

UPDATE: manage to get the sender to contact DHL in the U.S., and as expected, it was all clear. So the problem is here. I called DHL again and this time someone actually found out more about this, including the fact import duties are paid, and this is all that needed to be known. They are now sending this to a broker for release from customs - but if I want this before I go to Las Vegas I have to go and collect from their warehouse. No delivery...

One thing SkypeIn can't do: block telemarketers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Jan-2007 08:22

We all know SkypeIn is an interesting and useful feature. SkypeIn allows consumers to have a dedicated phone number in different cities, even countries, and receive phone calls made to their numbers directly on their Skype software client or handsets - like the Dualphone I have around here that don't even need a computer.

For me I have two SkypeIn phone numbers, one in San Francisco (CA) and another one in Melbourne (Australia).

Now, these work great and only a couple of people know my number in San Francisco - only people that needed to contact me for a conference call or two.

Skype should actually offer these numbers here in New Zealand as well.

But I digress. Last night we got a phone call at 3:45am. Some telemarketer, with a foreign accent, not American, not New Zealander, was calling my SkypeIn phone number for a survey.

For a damn survey at 3:45am.

Right. So I think I should join the United States Do Not Call Registry. I don't even live there, but I will have to. The problem you see, is that there's no geographical or time zone limitation when you have a SkypeIn number. For those inconsiderate telemarketing companies, they think it's fair game, being a U.S. number and being day over there.

How did they get hold of this phone number? Was it a random dialing exercise? "Let's just call all numbers in the SFO area, it's daytime there after all..."

If you want to register your SkypeIn number in this list then visit their official website for the United States Do Not Call Registry.

Of course another problem is that SkypeIn numbers are assigned by Skype, and their terms of service says that they may even take or change the number at their will, depending on how much you use it.

What if when you buy a SkypeIn number you get a "gift", a number that have been already sent to hundreds of telemarketing companies? What a pain that would be.

We need something like a "flag" that will tell telemarketing companies to not call Skype numbers. Something that uniquely identify a number as a virtual number, therefore let those people know that they may be disturbing someone in the middle of the night, on the other side of the world.

And no, logging off Skype during the night is not an option. I don't unplug my phone from the landline every evening before going to bed. Why should I log off of Skype?

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.

Here's is my full disclosure post.

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