This morning they called me back with an update, and here's the real deal:
The link with Volantis will provide a consistent format for the way content is presented on mobile products, it also stops new code needing to be written for different devices as it is already configured. It also allows us to better manage and support Java applications and future services – whatever they may be.
• Consistent format for presentation across all mobile products
• Improved device (handset layer) adaptation layer, implementation of handsets is now managed via configuration as apposed to code changes
• Caching is enabled closer to the customer which has resulted in pages are presenting more quickly to the customer
• Improved graphical content via a number of sources
It was launched on September 19.
So there you go. All you folks using Telecom New Zealand WAP services should not notice a difference, but the guys at Telecom will certainly have an easier life pushing those updates and content to your handset. I know because a few years back I participated in a project/demo with Volantis software in combination with ATG content management to deliver content over 3G to handsets - that was before 3G was launched down under.
I have just received a press release from Volantis, a U.S.-based company that specialises in delivering content to mobile devices, pointing out that Telecom New Zealand contracted their software and expertise to develop and deliver a Next-Generation Mobile site. The enhanced Xtra Mobile Services platform according to the release includes a selection of unique content for mobile devices.
The company supplied the New Zealand-based operator with its "Intelligent Content Adaptation solution, providing applications, tools and platforms that help delivering optimized services to mobile devices. Volantis extensive experience of serving content providers, mobile network operators, and enterprises, along with its standards leadership, enable a unique position for Volantis to create innovative technology for the Mobile Information Age that is more useful and more useable than the PC Internet of today."
I have just tried visiting mobile.msn.com and instead of reaching the local Xtra Mobile site I was redirected to the U.S. site - which I always expected to happen but wasn't the case in the last few months. And trying to reach the Xtra Mobile site manually just redirecs to the Xtra Games site, for now.
Perhaps the redirection is down until the new site comes alive? At the moment there is no information from the press contacts at Telecom New Zealand, but I expect to hear from them tomorrow about what exactly is being announced here.
By the way, Xtra PDA is a PDA-friendly website, perfect for use with Windows Mobile devices and other small screen devices.
UPDATE: The Xtra Mobile site is back again, no longer redirecting to Xtra Games.
Side note: In the last few weeks we've seen lots of rumours of Telecom parting ways with Microsoft in respect of the local XtraMSN partnership. We even heard of a possible association with Google. Which may or may not be the case.
In the meantime, some astute readers noticed that the following ad has three errors. Try finding them:
Found the errors? Here is the list:
1. The computer shown is a MacBook Pro (Intel-based Apple Mac), the vodem doesn't work with these;
2. the vodem is connected to the firewire port, when it should be connected to the USB port;
3. the cord connecting the vodem to the computer is a standard phone cord.
For a close up image of these ports, check this detail picture of a MacBook Pro and a PowerBook G4 on Flickr.
When I visited the Adobe site to install Flash, I came across their ADOBE SOFTWARE END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT [sic]:
1. "Authorized Operating Systems" means the desktop and standard-laptop versions of the following operating systems:
1. Microsoft Windows operating systems (including desktop and standard-laptop PC versions of Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, ME, XP Home, XP Professional, and XP Tablet PC Edition, but specifically excluding Windows XP Embedded, Windows XP Media Center Edition, and successors);
2. Macintosh operating systems;
3. Linux operating systems, but specifically excluding any embedded version of Linux; and
4. Solaris operating systems.
2. "Adobe" means Adobe Systems Incorporated and its licensors, if any.
3. "Software" means only the Macromedia® Flash® Player, Macromedia® Shockwave® Player, or Macromedia® Authorware® Player and third party software programs, in each case, supplied by Adobe therewith, and corresponding documentation, associated media, printed materials, and online or electronic documentation, and all updates or upgrades of the above that are provided to you.
For the avoidance of doubt, no embedded or device versions of the above operating systems, or any other operating systems, are included as Authorized Operating Systems.
How interesting. Windows XP Media Center is not allowed to run Flash? Is everyone breaking the EULA? Or is there another version for this specific OS?
What about Windows Vista? I am running Windows Vista Ultimate, which incorporates Windows XP Media Center Edition functionality. I am in breach of this EULA?
The only thing holding me back on going 100% Windows Vista on my desktop was the compatibility with some devices I have here. For example the Bluetake Bluetooth USB adapter, Microsoft Fingerprint Reader, the Microsoft VX-6000 Webcam, the Disc Stakka. All those either work with the current software or I am now able to download drivers and use on Windows Vista, so why not go for it?
I was also talking my time to test some other software I deem "essential" for my work: LogMeIn, GoToMyPC, WebDrive, and Hamachi. I have now tested all these and they work flawlessly on Windows Vista RC1.
I also tested the Windows Mobile Device Center Beta 3 (screenshot below) and managed to connect my Pocket PCs, again without problems.
Since I still have another machine running Windows XP 2 Service Pack (I can't update that machine just yet), I am going to rebuild my desktop with Windows Vista RC2. If anything needs Windows XP explicitly I can always use the other machine as a backup for the odd application.
I am also doing this because now is the time that more and more peripherals are coming with Windows Vista drivers. I have already received some that will need testing and there is no sense in testing these on Windows XP. So this is the right time to do this migration.
This coming week I am taking a day off just to install the new OS and the essential applications.
About 10.7% of our population are connected via DSL technologies, 0.5% use cable, and 0.6% use other technologies (satellite, cellular data).
These numbers put New Zealand in position #22 between Portugal and the Czech Republic.
The broadband (in % of population) uptake in this country, has been like this: 0.7% (2001), 1.6% (2002), 2.6% (2003), 4.7% (2004) and 8.1% (2005).
Go read all other numbers in the link.
The custom alerts (such as the one from Geekzone you subscribe to receive alerts on your MSN or mobile phone when a new article goes up on the main site) are now listed on Windows Live Alerts:
I've decided to do a new blog post for this update because I wanted it to have the same exposure as my original post.
Private Joe Bowers, the definition of "average American", is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, he awakes 500 years in the future. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed-down that he's easily the most intelligent person alive.
But it's incomplete. Windows Live team, please fix it!
Ok, now that I have your attention I will go ahead and explain the background and the problem.
For example, we provide Geekzone Alerts, based on Windows Live Alerts. It is a service you can subscribe with your Windows Live Id account and receive a notification on Windows Live Messenger, your Windows Live Mail, or any other e-mail account - even on your mobile phone (as a SMS) when a new item is posted on Geekzone.
This works great. If you log into Windows Live Alerts you can even add other alerts to your list.
But here starts the annoyance. The Geekzone Alers was introduced on an old service, later acquired by Microsoft. They never did an integration job. You can't see the Alert settings on Windows Live Alerts. You can see the latest messages received, but you can't turn it on or off. You can only do it through our admin page.
Why is this a big deal? Because these alerts come out on Windows Live Messenger, or your mobile phone, but down the track you probably forgot where to go to manage these alerts - and it's not on Windows Live Alerts.
Another weird thing: all of a sudden Windows Live Mail (Hotmail) is sending to my mobile phone a SMS notification of any urgent messages sent to my account. I don't want these! I never set it on. But there's nowhere to turn it off. It's not on Windows Live Alerts, and not on Windows Live Mail. I am stuck with this.
The Windows Live Alerts site does not list any of my alerts, except the ones I setup through that site. And that's what's broken.
More strange stuff? You want to setup your mobile to receive notifications via SMS? Try Mobile MSN. Oh, in New Zealand it redirects to XtraMSN, and it's nothing to do with Mobile MSN. If this happens, try the US Mobile MSN site instead. Thanks Telecom New Zealand for breaking the web.
Rigth. Once there you can setup your mobile phone for SMS notifications. But why is this not linked from Windows Live Alerts?
Microsoft, I see a lot of Windows Live services coming out. I am in the beta group for Windows Live Essentials, which brings a fancy Windows Live Dashboard with links to the Windows Live services you use. But it's not compatible (yet) with Internet Explorer 7, so I (and millions of other users) can't use it yet.
It doesn't matter. These services are so many, and so spread with no central control that I am afraid people won't use them simply because they can't find their way around.
For me, right now, please put all Windows Live Alerts configuration in the same place. This includes the damn Windows Live Mail notifications that are nowhere to be found, the custom Windows Live Alerts from websites such as Geekzone and many others, and the mobile configuration.
And Telecom New Zealand, stop hijacking those Mobile MSN pages, you are not adding any value.
Not bad: 1.3 Mbps download, 344 Kbps upload speeds. I have the impression my cell site is on the 1.8Mbps list. Now I have to find where the 3.6Mbps cell sites are located...
As before I tested with www.speedtest.net: