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Vodafone VMC Lite and security

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Nov-2006 22:48

In those days when companies limit user accounts in their PCs to have no or only minimum administrator rights, and Microsoft is pushing Windows Vista enhanced security features, including an extended User Account Control (here is a UAC step-by-step guide), it is unacceptable that companies release software that requires administrator rights to run.

Following a friend's request to test the vodem on a non-Admin account, I was surprised with this dialog box:

Vodafone vodem requires administrator level to run

While Windows XP would require Administrator rights to install software, with Windows Vista UAC provides ways around this, by temporarily elevating privileges:

User Account Control (UAC) is a new security component Windows Vista. UAC enables users to perform common tasks as non-administrators, called standard users in Windows Vista, and as administrators without having to switch users, log off, or use Run As. A standard user account is synonymous with a user account in Windows XP. User accounts that are members of the local Administrators group will run most applications as a standard user. By separating user and administrator functions while enabling productivity, UAC is an important enhancement for Windows Vista.

The primary difference between a standard user and an administrator in Windows Vista is the level of access the user has over core, protected areas of the computer. Administrators can change system state, turn off the firewall, configure security policy, install a service or a driver that affects every user on the computer, and install software for the entire computer. Standard users cannot perform these tasks and can only install per-user software.


You can see how important is to run as user, instead of Administrator. And even Administrators still need elevation in some cases.

Vodafone has released some updated Mac OS drivers for Intel-based Mac computers, so they are working on vodem support for new OS versions. Based on some Geekzone forum posts it seems Vodafone is working on a vodem driver for Windows Vista. Let's see if they release a new VMC Lite that does not require Administrator privileges to run.

I wonder what's the situation with Telecom New Zealand's dialer for their range of 3G cards?












Windows Vista RTM Lab, CES 2007

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Nov-2006 11:24

It's confirmed now, I got an invitation from Microsoft to attend the Windows Vista RTM Lab in Las Vegas, happening just a couple of days before the 2007 International CES (Consumer Electronics Show), which I will be also attending.



"Time for us to get together for a final review of the exciting developments that you’ll be using with Windows Vista.  This time, we’re offering you the opportunity to learn even more about how the technology included for the release of Windows Vista will affect other products. This will give you more knowledge and insight that you’ll need before the worldwide release of Windows Vista.

We’re inviting you to come to this event prior to the Consumers Electronics Show (CES) to be held January 8th-12th , with the opening keynote by Bill Gates on the evening of January 7th.  Our Lab will be held on January 6th and 7th  with a special event on Saturday evening.  This schedule will allow you to attend the Bill Gates’ keynote after our Lab as well as give you as much time at CES as you’d like."


As in previous years we will be walking around the CES show floor and looking for interesting stuff to post on Geekzone, attend a few parallel technology events and once again meet the Windows Vista team and other website owners.

I am looking for a company willing to sponsor a trip for a second person to the CES - if you want to help us, contact me directly.



The long TelstraClear outage

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Nov-2006 06:08

I understand things happen. But an ISP outage that lasts for 8 hours (and counting)?

TelstraClear exceeded its record this time. Last night during the Geekzone Weekly Chat we had a TesltraClear person between us. A shame he left minutes before my connection died at 8:46pm. Since then I have to thank Vodafone NZ for its service in the area I live.

I called the TelstraClear help desk and was greeted with a message saying something about a power outage causing Internet and cable TV outages in Kapiti, and thought this could be related.

However it's now 6:15am and the service is not back yet.

I am preparing myself to call TelstraClear and endure the 45 minutes wait, their endless requests to power cycle the cable modem (I've done this already multiple times without success) and at the end something like "We will have to send a technician".

If it is something like previous small outages, the service will be restored like magic and I will have to call again, wait 45 minutes and cancel the visit.

But it's not only me. There are other people reporting the same in this area.

Is this going to be the longest TelstraClear outage in Wellington in 2006? We still have another 6 weeks to go you know?

UPDATE: This connection came back between 7am and 8am - about 11 hours outage.

UPDATE: I have posted an update on an on-going discussion in our Geekzone Forums.





CDMA EV-DO versus WCDMA in the U.S.

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Nov-2006 21:12

This is an interesting topic. It may not be something our Europeans readers worry about, but it is certainly an interesting topic for New Zealanders, Australians and North Americans (U.S mainly)-based users of mobile technologies.

I am talking about the CDMA EV-DO versus WCDMA debate. While GSM (and its evolutionary path GPRS, EDGE, WCDMA (a.k.a UMTS), HSDPA) is the dominant mobile technology in Europe, other regions see a balance of forces between GSM and CDMA technologies (here represented by CDMA 1xRTT, 1xEV-DO Rev 0, 1xEV-DO Rev A).

In New Zealand for example, the situation is almost a 50/50 split in number of users of each of those two technologies, although in terms of 3G coverage CDMA (Telecom New Zealand) has a bit more than GSM (Vodafone New Zealand).

I just finished reading a guest post by Chetan Sharma, on Om Malik's blog about EV-DO vs WCDMA in the U.S. and here is an interesting bit:

In terms of network coverage, even though Cingular (then AT&T Wireless) got a head start with its ceremonial UMTS deployment in four markets, Verizon and Sprint Nextel have jumped much further ahead in terms of national coverage. While Cingular has only covered 52 major markets in 28 states (just over 50% market) thus far, both Verizon and Sprint are nearing complete nation-wide coverage. T-Mobile won’t get into the picture until well into 2007. Alltel, the number 5 carrier in the US has been spreading its EV-DO coverage as well.

In the critical area of handsets, EV-DO is ahead by a mile. As of Sept 2006, there were 15 3G handsets available in the market (representing approximately 20% of the available handsets from big four), Fourteen of those handsets were for EV-DO (10 from Verizon, 4 from Sprint Nextel) vs. five UMTS/HSDPA 6handsets from Cingular.



Wow... How different from down under. Here in good old New Zealand is the opposite in terms of handsets. Everyone I know (or post in our Geekzone forums), complain that Telecom New Zealand's handsets are not "sexy" enough to attract the youger crowd, and not interesting enough to attract the older people.

By the way, a current joke on Geekzone is about a MSM journalist who wrote an article about Telecom New Zealand (a CDMA operator) planning to migrate to "Wireless CDMA" (his version of WCDMA). As if there would be any other type of CDMA...




Windows Vista RTM: install experience

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Nov-2006 19:01

Well, as soon as I was told Windows Vista RTM was available for MSDN subscriber I started the download. I think I was lucky and did it at the right time, because my download took less than 2 hours 30 minutes, and I was able to quickly grab an activation key.

Installation was a breeze and it took less than 20 minutes. Great stuff. Unfortunatelly upgrade from Windows Vista RC2 wasn't an option available. Meno male, since I am not a big fan of inplace upgrades, and I consider this not a beta version anymore so I wasn't going to test this scenario.

My desktop configuration is based on an ASUS P5WD2 Premium motherboard, currently with 2GB DDR2 RAM and a 160GB SATA HDD. I wasn't running the latest BIOS on this machine, but Windows Vista RC1 and Windows Vista RC2 were both running ok - but how wrong I was...

After installing Windows Vista RTM my fist boot resulted on a BSDO. Upon a Safe Boot I found it was on crcdisk.sys. A quick check on Google showed this is a problem on 64 bit CPUs - hardly my case. Off to fresh install the OS again.

It worked fine for a while, but continuously locking up for up to 3 minutes, unresponsive, but suddenly coming back to live.

Anyway, the system had no sound (it uses Realtek HD Sound) and I visited Windows Update to try and find the driver. No luck there. I ended up manually downloading the official Realtek driver. I wonder where are the 19,500+ drivers on the DVD?

Soon after installing the sound driver the system rebooted itself, and guess what? A big nice BSOD on loading crcdisk.sys... After quickly talking to Brad Stewart we decided I should give the System Recover tool from the boot DVD a shot. It worked its magic, finding a few errors in the registry.

I proceeded to install Microsoft 2007 Office System RTM, which worked ok. But Microsoft Outlook 2007 was freezing and complaining about its .OST file...

At this point I decided to find if there was a BIOS update for this motherboard. Indeed there is a BIOS update, although not one aimed at Windows Vista. After trying many times (the ASUS website is horrible) I managed to download the file, create a bootable FDD and install this BIOS.

It seems now this is working fine. The BSOD doesn't happen anymore, I am copying my files back from the external backup drive, and Outlook is no longer complaining.

There are some new problems though... I can't start System Restore to manually create a restore point. It complains with an error dialog "There was an unexpected error: Class not registered (0x80040154). Please close System Restore and try again."... Frustrating, and I can't find a solution. The closest I found is here, and is just a query. Still no solution for this.


Next is the existence of four or five "white" icons in the Control Panel, with no caption, and not doing anything when double-clicked. Strange.

Then there are a couple of "unknown devices" in the Hardware Manager. They were not "unknown" to Windows Vista RC2.

And my SD card reader, which used to work as a ReadyBoost device with Windows Vista RC2, is no longer a "ReadyBoost" capable device with RTM. Drats.

Why, would you ask, you simply don't reinstall Windows Vista RTM now that your BIOS is up-to-date and things seem to be running ok?

Because Microsoft made a mistake with keys for Microsoft Office 2007 on MSDN and after two registrations only (my tablet PC and this desktop) the keys are no longer valid! As soon (and if) they fix this I will reinstall this Windows Vista desktop and will be able to install Office again. Until then, I am stuck.



Adobe Download Manager

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Nov-2006 18:11

Is there anyway to download Adobe Reader without using their Adobe Download Manager?
 
How hard is for a company to understand that I don't need another download manager, and that I don't want another download manager?

I don't want software being installed on my computer just so that I have the ability to download another piece of software?

Is there are anything more intrusive than this, short of being an unwanted spyware or adware software?



Windows Vista for testers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Nov-2006 17:39

If you were a Microsoft Windows Vista tester on Connect and have submitted at least one bug then check your inbox: Microsoft is sending out a "thank you" gift in the form of a free copy of Microsoft Windows Vista Business or Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (of course you have to get the Ultimate, right?).

You choose which version you want, and a key will be generated for you in a week. Also this is a download offer only.

Lucky beta tester, got the gift on the same dat Windows Vista RTM landed on MSDN and Technet.

Windows Vista RTM

I've already downloaded the Windows Vista ISO, in just over a couple of hours. I wonder with the news spreading fast how long before all the servers are loaded and the entire Internet slows down...





Microsoft Windows Vista available on MSDN now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Nov-2006 11:39

If you are a MSDN Subscriber, head on to the site and prepare your download machine. Microsoft has released Windows Vista a day earlier. You will need to login with your credentials and request the proper keys for the installation.

The file en_windows_vista_x86_dvd_X12-34293.iso is an ISO-9660 DVD Image, with a total of 2555 MB.


This single download includes the following Windows Vista editions:
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows Vista Business N
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • Windows Vista Home Basic N
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Starter
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 
     


  • Microsoft Windows Vista released to MSDN




    Deceiving telecommunication

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Nov-2006 10:47

    No, this is not another spoof Telecom New Zealand ad. It's a different kind of "deceiving"... Beware of video calls!










    More views on Microsoft Direct Push and Exchange Server 2007

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Nov-2006 19:55

    You probably read my article on What Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Brings to Users and IT Administrators. For that article I talked to Charlie Chung, technical Lead Project Manager in the Exchange Product Team, during the Microsoft New Zealand's Tech Ed 2007 event here in Auckland.

    Microsoft Exchange 2007 and Direct Push

    In that article I explained what new features are coming to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, and how those features will interact with Windows Mobile devices, and other devices running the licensed Exchange ActiveSync client platform.

    If you want even more information on this, you should head to Paul Mah's Technology At Play, and read the post Examining Exchange 2007: The Future of Direct Push.

    Now that Microsoft have finally announced that Exchange 2007 is being slated for release at the end of November 2006, it is a good time as any for us to perform a detailed appraisal of the Direct Push-related components in this new version of Microsoft Exchange.

    Perhaps you have already heard or even read-up on it.  But in case you are not aware yet, Exchange 2007 is a radically different beast altogether from Exchange 2003.  Rather than being a purely evolutionary upgrade, this latest version of Exchange is set to bring several features never before found in the e-mail server scene – such as built-in voice (Think in terms of voice PABX) and fax capabilities, onto the playing field.





    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.

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    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.

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