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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?

Modern Nomads, MobilitySite Podcast

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jan-2007 21:02

I found a couple of things related to mobility, that may be of interest to you:

- Check the Modern Nomads blog... They usually have very long but  well written articles on how to use technology to get the best out of it. For example, this week the article "Get more out of your day using a PDA" brings some very useful information for personal information management, including tips  on how to reduce the overload of communication that e-mail brings to our lives and more. Worth reading it.

- Mobilty Site is launching a series of mini casts called "Mobility Site Minute". Yep, one minute only, and you get a lot of information for your time. The only problem is that I couldn't find a RSS feed for this series - yet.

Media Thoughts offline: under repair

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jan-2007 09:07

If you guys follow Pocket PC Thoughts, Smartphone Thoughts, Zune Thoughts and can't load their pages, don't go crazy (yet).

Jason Dunn has posted a note on his personal blog ("Thoughts Media Server Falls Down, Goes Boom") with the explanation:

Since I can’t update any of my “real” sites, here’s the scoop: our main server is seriously messed up. It appears to be some sort of database corruption, but running MySQL repairs doesn’t seem to have helped. My limited Linux knowledge is a handicap here - beyond a few basic commands I’m more or less useless. All my volunteer server techs are offline/away/MIA, so I’ve just reached out to a Linux-guns-for-hire company and hopefully they can get things up and running soon.

Home made Xbox 360 racing simulator

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jan-2007 09:09

This one is an interesting video showing how it looks like to drive a home made Xbox 360 racing simulator. The setup was created by a fellow Geekzone reader (BestTimesNow). You can find more information on this thread. Once you sit and start driving the visual is really incredible:

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?

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.

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