My window to the world

Moving to Windows Vista RC2

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Oct-2006 21:34

I decided to test some of the devices I have installed on my desktop with Windows Vista RC1 (RC2 is downloaded already, but not installed).

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 adapterMicrosoft 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.

Windows Mobile Device Center

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.

Broadband uptake in New Zealand: OECD numbers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Oct-2006 09:54

There you go. According to the last OECD Broadband statistics, New Zealand has got 479,000 broadband subscribers.

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.

Windows Live Alerts redux

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Oct-2006 09:11

It was just yesterday that I posted about a couple of things that were misbehaving on Windows Live Alerts, but already one of these is fixed.

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:

Windows Live Alerts management
Thank you to the Windows Live team for acting fast on this!

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.


By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Oct-2006 17:20

I want to see Idiocracy. When is the opening in New Zealand?

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.


Windows Live Alerts & Windows Live Mail Annoyance

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Oct-2006 13:13

I really like MSN Alerts, recently renamed Windows Live Alerts. It's a handy feature, and you can configure it to send a SMS to your moble phone wen certain alerts arrive.

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.

MSN Mobile setup

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.

First Merlin XU870 HSDPA Test Results on Vodafone

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Oct-2006 16:23

To be fair I tested the Merlin XU870 HSDPA/UMTS/EDGE/GPRS card from Vodafone New Zealand in the same spot where I tested the Vodem and the Sierra Wireless AirCard 850 before.

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

Merlin XU870 speed test

Wikipedia on Windows Mobile devices is back

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Oct-2006 19:19

A few months back I posted about a service (Wikipedia Mobile Guru) that "translated" the Wikipedia content to fit on the small screen of mobile devices - and it looked great on Internet Explorer Mobile on Windows Mobile Pocket PCs and Smartphones.

Wikipedia on Windows Mobile and other handheld devices

The service went down for a while due to traffic, but it's back, and the guys at tell me they will be moving it to a bigger server to support the traffic.

Palm Treo 700wx Windows Mobile to be available through Telecom New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Oct-2006 16:48

I just got an invitation to attend a media event where Palm, Telecom New Zealand and Microsoft will demonstrate a new Windows Mobile Palm Treo connected to the Telecom New Zealand CDMA EVDO network.

I am pretty sure this will be the first Palm Treo CDMA EVDO being released outside the U.S. where it is available now as Treo 700w (Verizon Wireless) and Pam Treo 700wx (Sprint).

Knowing of the close relationship between Telecom New Zealand and Sprint, I'd guess the version being released here is either the Palm Treo 700wx (pictured below) or a similar one.

Palm Treo 700wx
The introduction will happen Thursday 19 October 2006, in Auckland. Bummer - I am not going there for this release (no, we are not swimming in Air New Zealand tickets here):

- receive a hands on demonstration of the first Windows Treo in New Zealand and see what it has to offer users
- understand how Palm has further developed the Palm user experience on Windows mobile operating system and combined with ready access to Microsoft’s world-class email solutions
- find out how Palm’s latest Treo lets users take advantage of Telecom’s high speed, EV-DO Mobile Broadband network to get them faster access to email, desktop and server information.

Note that this will be an introduction to the media. There's no word yet of availability dates. But one thing is for sure: people have been reporting in the Geekzone forums that Telecom New Zealand has pulled out the webpages for the Palm Treo 650...

Vodafone vodem giveaway

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Oct-2006 11:42

Nice. I just read in The Geekzoner (Tony Hughes) that we will have a Vodafone vodem to giveaway during tonight's Geekzone Weekly Chat (10 October 2006).

Vodafone vodem

You can find more about the vodem in my "unpacking the Vodafone vodem" review. You can use it to connect to Vodafone New Zealand's new HSDPA network for fast mobile internet connection on your laptop or desktop.

The Weekly Geekzone Chat happens every Tuesday from 8pm. We have an IRC Java client available here, but you can use any other IRC client. The Geekzone IRC channel is always live, with people talking there almost at any time of the day - and keen to discuss anything tech related - or not.

Thanks Tony for organising this, arranging the vodem and being overall a great moderator (as in great and large).

Vodafone New Zealand and IHUG

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Oct-2006 09:32

A Vodafone conference call has just started, and Russell Stanners is right now providing more information about the Vodafone New Zealand and ihug deal.

As reported before (here, here and here), Vodafone has bought New Zealand ISP ihug for NZ$41 million.

Rusell confirms the business will be run as two different brands. Immediate market impact will be the offering of mobility within the ihug portfolio.

Vodafone is preparing to offer the whole spectrum of communications, from mobile voice, moble data and for the heavy users the landline option.

No new bundles were announced yet. Of course lots of references to unbundling (no pun intended) and waiting for the Commerce Commision decisions. In short, nothing new.

Russell pointed out that this is not a new type of deal for Vodafone. He cited the example of FastWeb, an Italian ISP who provides Vodafone Italy with broadband bundles. This is from the press release a few weeks back:

Vodafone Italy and Fastweb, Italy's leading alternative broadband provider, have today announced in Milan a joint initiative which will enable Vodafone Italy to offer its customers broadband internet access. The service, to be branded Vodafone Casa Fastweb, will be launched shortly.

Vodafone Italy customers buying Vodafone Casa Fastweb will be able to use their normal Vodafone services on their mobiles, make mobile voice calls to fixed line phones at fixed rates whilst at home and have access to Fastweb's broadband network, which covers approximately half the population of Italy at speeds of up to 20Mbps.

In the UK Vodafone has signed an agreement with BT Wholesale to provide its customers in the UK with Vodafone-branded consumer fixed-line broadband services. This partnership enables Vodafone's customers to benefit from bundled packages of mobile and broadband services in the entire UK.

Vodafone Germany offers a complete mobile solution for the single-number based on user's home area, called Vodafone at Home. It's not clear yet if Vodafone New Zealand would be offering a similar solution but incorporating the ADSL offerings from ihug.

Vodafone Germany is introducing a new fixed service based on cellular technology, providing voice and data for home users. The Vodafone At Home Mobile service costs €20 per month and includes 1000 minutes of talk time. Users can designate their At Home Zone, and any calls placed from the user's mobile phone while inside this area will be discounted from the included minutes.

The allowance include calls to other Vodafone mobile phone or landlines within Germany. When applying for this plan the user will also receive a standard fixed network number to allow friends and family to place calls without extra cost.

When placing calls outside the At Home Zone users will be charged at standard per minute rates. Users can freely move between zones and the call will be charged based on where the user was when placing the call.

The At Home Zone can be located within a radius of up to 2 kilometres around the registered At Home address. This means that At Home customers can make mobile calls in the garden, in the café or anywhere in this area.

This could be a sensible way to go, with a solution similar to Orange Unique Phone. In that solution Orange mobile users roam freely at home with a mobile phone connected to the broadband connection wirelessly over Wi-Fi, and over to the mobile network when out and about.

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.

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 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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