My window to the world


The Vanishing Point puzzle box is here

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Dec-2006 10:29

This morning I got a small box with a letter from Loki, and a puzzle box. Inside the puzzle box I found a USB key with a movie, and a picture with an encrypted message...





This is the first clue:



If you don't know yet, this is all related to a game called The Vanishing Point going on right now, with answers to be revealed sometime soon.

There are lots of good information on the Vanishing Point Wiki, a summary on Technronical and a very long thread on Neowin.






Comment policy on my blog

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Dec-2006 09:25

In the last few days a lot of people posted comments on this blog, for many different reasons, mainly because of the whole Microsoft/AMD/Acer laptop story.

Some comments are not shown and there's a reason for that.

The comment policy here is simple: identify yourself and the comments will be live.

Every time you comment you must enter your name and e-mail address (with optional URL, great for some Google juice). You will automatically receive an e-mail with a special link. Click on that link and your comment will automagically appear.

Your e-mail address is not shown, and it's only used for this confirmation.

Why is this? First to prevent spam in the blog comments. Next because I don't want to go through the comment moderation routine, which would be needed to prevent spam if the e-mail authentication wasn't in place.

If you have something to say, show your face. I am not here to read diatribes from people who hide behind fake e-mail addresses.

Yes, I can see the non-authenticated comments, but in principle I won't approve those because I don't want to give voice to people who rather remain in the shadows while posting their unjustified criticism to the world to read.
 
It's interesting how some posting a comment here can't do something as simple as follow the rules by entering a valid e-mail address, but at the same time try to appear as righteous?









Unlimited Potential: Blog Predictions for 2007

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Dec-2006 09:13

I was invited to speak at one of the upcoming Unlimited Potential events, here in Wellington.

The details are:

UP New Years Event - Bloggers predictions for 2007
When: 25 January 2006, at 5:30 for a 6:00 start
Where: Creative HQ, at 25 Marion Street, Wellington
 
And here is the pitch:

We've asked Wellington's best bloggers to gaze into the future and tell us what the big news will be in the next twelve months. The wisdom of their prognostications will astound you—or make you laugh, at the very least.

The blogger who makes the best predictions — as voted by the audience — will be crowned UP Visionary of the Year for 2007, and receive an official certificate, a beautiful tiara [crown?], and full bragging rights… at least until 2008, when we will vote again on whether to revoke their title.

The bloggers:

David Farrar, of Kiwiblog fame,
Tom Beard, Wellingtonista's "Blogger of the Year" for 2006,
Mauricio Freitas, the Geekzone Guy,
Philip Fierlinger, self-confessed Blog Junkie
Mike, carrying the hopes and dreams of the UP Exec

The rules:

Each blogger will make 3 to 5 predictions.
Preditions will be in the following categories: Gadgets & Games,
The Internet, Business & Telecom[munications], Technology, Wellington & NZ.
Predictions made by blog readers in comments are allowed, but must be credited.
Cheating—by using insider knowldge, in-depth simulations, latent psychic powers, reasoned analysis, alcohol, ouija boards, etc— is strictly encouraged.



The last bit is important... So if you think you have a vision of the future of blogging, and it happens in 2007, then drop a comment here or contact me.

PS. If your name is not linked, I sincerely apologise - I simply can't find your blog right now, so please drop me a note and I will update the links.








DHL Express is slow

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Dec-2006 12:54

What a joke. Called DHL again to find out about the "express" parcel I am waiting for, and now I am told there are no agents to process this in Wellington.

The package has been in the country for four days now, in the bonded warehouse for three days, plus one day in Auckland.

I am also told that even though this box is sitting on a depot 20 minutes from here, even if an agent from Auckland releases it, the chances of having this delivered today are very slim.

Let's see: long New Year holiday from tomorrow, no deliveries until next Thursday... A week from now!

This morning CourierPost delivered a package with a device to be reviewed, posted two weeks ago from Sydney, Australia. Sydney is only 4 hours from Wellington!

There you go, this is the cost of doing business in this country.







Blog tagged

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Dec-2006 07:46

Right, so it seems it's my turn to enter the meme with five things you don't know about me, thanks to a post on Russ McGuire's  The Law of Mobility.

Here's the list:


- In 1985 I was attending a course on 4GL on Burroughs B Series mainframes. Being the only person there who had ever used an Apple II, TRS 80 or CP/M-based computer, I told the other attendees to keep an eye on dBASE, and we should think of replacing some of the green terminals with smaller computers for some tasks. Everyone looked at me like "good lord, he's only 18 - these things are toys and he doesn't know it yet". Time changed everything.

- I moved to New Zealand from Brazil, thanks to a job transfer. After working eight years for Unisys Brasil I joined Unisys New Zealand for another eight years, before leaving to work full time on Geekzone. I was with the Unisys Communications practice for about 10 years in total.

- The last two years before moving to New Zealand I spent flying between Londrina and Sao Paulo for a couple of projects, every week. One Friday evening I arrived back home and tried to start my motorcycle. It wouldn't start, because my Siberian Husky (yes, in Brazil!) ate all its cables (including brakes, accelerator) and lots of other bits, rendering it unusable for the next couple of weeks.

- I like good food. Brazilian food, in special feijoada or churrasco made with picanha is great, but Italian food will tip the balance too. And coffee.

- My first PDA was a US Robotics Pilot (the name Palm Pilot came after this first model), back in 1995. I've used all their models up to the Palm m515, then I switched to the Handspring Visor Prism. The reason for that was the Visorphone GSM Springboard module to transform the PDA into a PDA Phone. This was my last Palm OS handheld, because I switched to Windows Mobile soon after.


I am tagging Juha Saarinen, Russell Brown , Jason Dunn, Chris Leckness, and Long Zheng.




Small "geographic" giveaway to our kiwi readers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Dec-2006 20:03

If you live in New Zealand and want to be in to win a "navigation kit" with a HP iPaq h3970 Pocket PC, Bluetooth GPS and NAVMAN software, all with original boxes, manuals, and cables then check this thread on Geekzone.

I want to learn of interesting places in New Zealand, so make sure to post your entry there... We will close the thread 4th January 2007. Be quick, and good luck!





DHL delay

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Dec-2006 16:56

Hmmm. One of the laptops everyone is talking about is not here yet. Almost:


DHL: Welcome to DHL Express, how may I help you?
Me: Hi, I am expecting a parcel coming from the US but it shows as on-hold, could you please check why?
DHL: Oh, it arrived without a manifest. Do you have the invoice?
Me: No, sorry, this is sent from another company, not mine.
DHL: Well, we have to find the box in the warehouse to grab a copy of the invoice. This may take a few more days.
Me: No chance of this being delivered tomorrow then?
DHL: No, sorry, we have to find the paper and send through customs then release to the courier for delivery.
Me: Hmmm, today is Thursday and with New Year this will be delivered next Thursday then?
DHL: If we find the box.
Me: Ok, so the box has been in New Zealand for three days but you don't have it?
DHL: We have to find the box to get the invoice and send through customs. Sorry for the delay.
Me: Riiiight... Thanks.


Well, I doubt DHL people reads blogs (I never heard of any DHL blogger or alike), but here it is. Three days in a bonded warehouse and they can't find a box!





The Acer Ferrari discussion

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Dec-2006 08:03

I am one of the bloggers receiving an Acer Ferrari 5000, pre loaded with Windows Vista, and as mentioned before, this is courtesy of AMD and Microsoft, to promote the new OS with extreme hardware and mobility features.

A lot of people around the world are getting these. I don't have a list but I know that it includes well-known bloggers, and blogs that reach a smaller niche.

Robert Scoble linked to Scott's laughingsquid (one of the recipients), who in turn linked to Australian Long Zheng, who links to a lot of other bloggers (including me, thanks!) and got into digg and Slashdot as "Microsoft bribing bloggers with laptops".

Some bloggers are saying "Bribe". What's the Slashdot crowd saying? "Bribe"... What's the MSM saying? "Bribe".

They all point to Microsoft, but forget to say this is something between AMD, Microsoft and Acer. Of course they always have to point to the bigger one of the three. They forget to say though that only Microsoft could pull this one off. Which other company could reach that many bloggers, journalists and influentials around the world, in a single move? I don't imagine people getting so hot about this issue if it was an initiative by Apple or Sun.


The "influentials" are welcome to keep or return the laptops. They can disclose or not.

My option was to keep and disclose. I've already mentioned it here. I maintain my independence by making it clear which companies are sponsoring this review unit. The same way people know I have an account with both Telecom New Zealand and Vodafone New Zealand so as not to show a preference for one or the other.

This is no different from freelance journalists getting free flights to Taiwan to attend the IDF. Or being sponsored to attend the PDC. Or attending the CES and receiving a laptop bag from Toshiba, or going to ShowsStoppers and receiving a bag with goodies from the exhibitors.

Get over it folks! Go read Scobble's latest post on this: "I think the Microsoft Vista giveaway is an awesome idea".

Incredible how a marketing campaign can get this "viral". Want it or not, people are talking, and this is good for them.

By the way, the laptop comes with a puzzle, which is the key to access The Vanishing Point - lots of answers to the puzzle and more at this Vanishing Point Wiki.







Illegal movie downloads is bigger than legal alternatives

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Dec-2006 19:02

It's no surprise that illegal video downloads surpass legal alternatives 5 to 1. If the studios decided to stop with moves such as geographically limited licensing that allow online stores to sell movies only in certain regions, then the world outside the U.S. (yes, there's one!) could buy more of their movies:



Of course you can find movie download online stores that sell outside the U.S, if you are interested in a comprehensive collection of B movies. Or if you are interested in a selection of music clips. Nothing against CinemaNow or Digirama, I am pretty sure they would love to sell a bigger variety of videos, if allowed by the industry.

You can try searching for "online video purchase" or "online video download" and see if you can find a service where you can actually purchase video content.

The industry is wrong. The big guys are not making money because they are not selling their product. Instead they rather battle the consumer.





Download your virtual machines

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Dec-2006 17:30

You probably are aware of how keen on virtual machines I am. I currently have an AMD-powered box (1.7GHz, 3GB RAM) running Windows XP SP2 as the host OS, with Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 as the virtualisation environment.

The guest OS are a variety of Windows XP SP2 (for log analysis) and Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition SP1 (for Exchange Server 2003 SP2 and Newsgator Enterprise Server).

Since I will be starting a new project sometime soon, I am also running a Windows Server 2003 R2 with SQL Server 2005, which I have downloaded from Run IT on a Virtual Disk, a series of ready-to-run demo virtual machines available for download now.


Very convenient if you want to try a new feature or test something but don't have the time to create a new machine (initialise, install, update, etc). The download list includes Windows Server 2003 R2, Exchange Server 2007, ISA Server 2006, and SQL Server 2005.

These downloads are fully functional machines, ready to use for 30 days (or more if activated with a MSDN key), with an expire date set to sometime in Q107 or Q207 (it depends on which machine you are using). You can start running a new (virtual) computer straight away after the download.

By the way if you use Microsoft Windows Vista and perform a Complete PC Backup, the resulting file is a .VHD (vitual hard disk).

Also if you are running Microsoft Windows Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta 2 or newer then you can use the vhdmount tool to mount a .VHD file as a drive on the host OS and browse its contents. Really neat.








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.

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