My window to the world

Microsoft Exchange Server Unified Messaging + NewsGator Enterprise Server = DIY podcast?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Sep-2006 10:23

Ok, it looks like I am not going to have much luck trying to get one of these Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging Kit here in New Zealand to create a proof of concept (well, not unless paying big bucks just to import this by myself), so I am posting here what I wanted to do, and perhaps someone in the USA can get one of these devices to test.

I run my own NewsGator Enterprise Server (NGES), and I have it integrated with my Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. I am able to create a "location" and have RSS feeds I subscribe to automatically entered into my Exchange mailbox. This way I can also read the feeds through Microsoft Outlook or the OWA.

When an item is read on the Exchange mailbox this status is synchronised back to the NewsGator Enterprise Server and the item is marked read in the database. NGES keeps all in sync, regardless of using the web interface, FeedDemon, or Outlook, very cool.

Now, this is the Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 feature that caught my attention:

Outlook Voice Access: Users can access their Exchange mailbox using a standard telephone, available anywhere. Through touch tone or speech-enabled menus, they can hear and act on their calendar, listen to e-mail messages (translated from text to speech), listen to voice mail messages, call their contacts, or call users listed in the directory.

The whole process would be something like subscribe to feed with NewsGator, have the feed items deposited into Exchange mailbox, have items read to you through the phone.

I am not sure if this can be done with items other than Inbox only, but it could be possible at least with some coding required.

The whole thing looks like a personal podcast programming service to me. It could be something people listen while driving to work, instead of a radio show or a standard podcast download. The user would be creating their own programme based on whatever feeds they subscribe and synchronise to the Exchange mailbox, and each programme would be very personal. And it could be accesible from anywhere through a landline or mobile phone - even over VoIP of course. It could stream to a client ona PC

Some operators (Telecom New Zealand comes to mind) offer flat fee plans when calling a specified phone number, for example, and this would be handy.

Alas, can't test thing here for lack of hardware support, so the idea is up to someone else to try. If you do it, please post a comment and link here.

The Microsoft Developer Show Podcast

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Sep-2006 12:30

If you are a developer using Microsoft technologies in general, or just interested, then I am offering a shameless plug to the Microsoft Developer Show podcast show, now being hosted by Nick Randolph:

What better way to announce a new host for The Microsoft Developer Show than to use the defacto standard for testing any new technology - writing Hello World!  As you might guess this post has a number of purposes:

Before I go I suppose that I should give a brief introduction about who I am.  Well firstly my name is Nick Randolph and I currently work for Intilecta based initially here in NZ, but returning to Perth at the end of the year.  Secondly, I’m a Microsoft MVP - Device Application Development (ie .NET Compact Framework) on which you can find more information here. My most recent achievment is that I am officially published with a book titled Professional Visual Studio 2005. Lastly, with whatever free time I have, I do some other activities through SoftTeq, such as helping run the Perth .NET Community of Practice.

Well, that’s enough about me. Join me over the coming weeks as we get down and dirty with all things Developer about Microsoft.

Nick is one of the tech guys I meet every Wednesday for coffee, chat and general geek stuff at Astoria Cafe, here in town. He's here in New Zealand for a few more months, before going back to Perth, Australia.

IBM Forum 06

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Sep-2006 21:42

Today I got an invitation to attend the IBM Forum 06, a roadshow that (here's the official pitch):

Come to where business strategists, technology experts and industry leaders collaborate to innovate. IBM Forum is back for 2006. It aims to provide the inspiration, connections and solutions most relevant to organisations today.

  • Keynote speaker, David Skilling from the NZ Institute, talks about improving New Zealand's future economic performance.
  • Meet with leading business professionals, technical experts and IBM Business Partners.
  • Hear real-life case studies.
  • Attend sessions relevant to your interest, including Security in the Digital Age, Ageing Workforce and Corporate Compliance.
  • See interactive demonstrations, including RFID technology, IP Communications, Collaboration and Information Management.

  • This is a full day event with sessions in Christchurch (5 October), Wellington (9 October) and Auckland (12 October). Parallel to these sessions there is a Demonstration Showcase with interesting technologies on the floor.

    I hope they have some wireless LAN there so I can write about things I see, or at least my Vodafone vodem arrives in time for that. Otherwise I am sure my trusty Telecom NZ Apache will connect me to the world.

    Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging kit

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Sep-2006 09:39

    Some of you know my background in telephony applications. For the last 10 years before moving full time to Geekzone, I worked  as an Integration Architect and Developer at Unisys, on the Communications practice.

    The duties obviously included all sorts of work in the telco area, including design and development of voice-based systems (think voice mail, unified messaging, etc).

    So, when I heard of new Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging applictions, including voice access to Outlook and more, I got all excited.

    ... server-based tools that integrate with desktop and mobile clients to give information workers access to voice, fax, and e-mail data from wherever they are and allows users to use the telephone to manage their email, calendar, and personal contacts.

    I love the idea of mobile clients, and I wonder how well this integrates with Communicator.

    There are now some evaluation kits available to test this functionality. The kit includes an AudioCodes MediaPack 114 FXO VoIP gateway, so you can plug the server to the telephony system - your PBX or other line.

    I'd love to try these here, but they are not listing any APAC distributor and this thing costs US$1000... Microsoft NZ?

    I am a guest on Mobility Guys podcast

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Sep-2006 08:02

    While I am not a guy who would produce a podcast, I have to take my hat off to the guys at They put on a good show and always have interesting guests. Like the podcast #9, just out, with Mauricio Freitas, (er, that's me)...

    In our 9th episode we talk with fellow Mobile Device MVP from Wellington, New Zealand, Mauricio Freitas who runs and operates the Geekzone, about some of features of Windows Mobile that you may or may not know about. Like the benefits of using Exchange 2003 SP2 in combination with latest updates of MSFP and AKU2 and what it means to you the end user. As always, we also talk about a few gadgets as well, like some bluetooth stereo headphones and headsets, U3 drives, and more.

    The are Jack Cook, Steven Hughes, Chris Leckness, Don Sorcinelli. They run their own mobility focused sites such as,, and have in common a Microsoft MVP Mobile Devices award (click on their names or mine to see our Microsoft MVP Profile). 

    Download podcast #9 to hear about Windows Mobile MSFP (Messaging and Security Feature Pack), how it integrates with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 SP2 and with the upcoming Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. Learn about neat things like Direct Push e-mail, remote wipe, closer integration of Windows Mobile and Exchange features, and more.

    You will notice my voice sounds funny (yes, it's funny), but remember my part was recorded over a Skype VoIP call, with added latency and distortion (I know, all excuses for my funny accent).

    And if you are curious about what a Microsoft MVP is, you can check the podcast #8 with Tyler Welch (Microsoft MVP Lead) or visit

    FeedDemon is fast

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Sep-2006 13:03

    Following the upgrade of my NewsGator Enterprise Server (NGES) 1.0 to the new 1.4 I installed FeedDemon to try its RSS feed synchronisation capabilities.

    What can I say? It rocks...

    I've used Sharpreader for some time before installing the NGES. The problem was keeping tabs on all feeds (at times more than 500!) while using three different devices: a desktop, a tablet PC and a Windows Mobile Pocket PC.

    The NGES solved the problem by adding Locations, and allowing me to have my feeds served through a web interface, Microsoft Exchange or a PDA-friendly web interface.

    But NGES 1.4 goes even further, adding the API calls available in the public NewsGator service everyone knows. This means that on top of the "locations" I already have here I can now use FeedDemon. And it is fast. And it synchronises well. And I can synchronise my tablet PC and take the content with me, knowing that next time it is on-line it will mark everything accordingly and download new content.

    I could already do this with the Exchange synchronisation. But having ActiveSync set to synchronise 500 feeds to my Pocket PC also meant that it was constantly working, eating the batteries. Or I could have NewsGator Inbox, a Microsoft Outlook Plugin that brings the content to Outlook. It's an option to consider.

    I am now waiting for NewsGator Go! for Windows Mobile to be compatible with NGES. Then it will be really nice.

    You don't need to run your own NGES to have these features. The web-based NewsGator service offers this capability (and more) with some subscription options.

    I wrote a NewsGator Enterprise Server review when I first installed it last year.

    NewsGator Enterprise Server 1.4 up and running

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Sep-2006 22:44

    Today I received a box with my NewsGator Enterprise Server upgrade, from version 1.0 to version 1.4 - thanks guys!

    I just finished installing it. Running a virtual machine is great. I did a full backup of this server (which run Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 in addition to NewsGator) in about 10 minutes. If anything could go wrong I wouldn't be more than 10 minutes away from having my full environment restored.

    Back to NewsGator, lucky it didn't go wrong. Installation was really smooth and with no problem. The install script upgraded my SQL database to the new schema - but I did have to install Microsoft .Net Framework v2 on this server because of the software requirements. No problem with that either.

    The first time I run the software I did have a scary moment - the script threw an error, which now I believe was a timeout (although at the time it was referencing one of the assemblies). After rebooting and a few moments of 100% CPU utilisation, the NewsGator Web News Reader showed up - with a fresh new UI:

    I see the feeds now show the favicon and they are all updated. Perhaps that's why the high CPU usage? Anyway, everything back to normal here and I am now playing around with it.

    Also improved is the PDA-friendly web interface. First it's much faster to load now. And I believe it is so because version 1.4 only outputs links to feeds with updated content, while version 1.0 output links to all feeds, but making them invisible if no new content was available. It also had fixed a small problem with feed counters:

    My next steps are to install NewsGator Inbox and download NewsGator Go! for Windows Mobile. I have FeedDemon installed, but it still tries to access the NewsGator public server, instead of my NGES (even though the configuration file points to my server). I will have to check this later.

    Otherwise, I am happy that this was a painless upgrade - back up and running!

    htciwiki and copyrighted contents

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Sep-2006 18:36

    It's a shame that people think that copyrighted content can be freely copied without attribution.

    I am talking about htcwiki, a wiki-style website for people wanting to post material about HTC devices, those Windows Mobile devices we all know so well (full disclosure: I am a Microsoft Windows Mobile MVP).

    According to WHOIS, htcwiki is registered to Waggener Edstrom Strategic Communications, the PR giant. The information I have is that it actually belongs to HTC, the Taiwan-based manufacturer of mobile devices. HTC is the company behind some of the most successful Windows Mobile devices in the market, including those branded as i-mate, T-Mobile, O2, Cingular and others.

    In the frontpage you will see a picture from our review of the HTC Universal, and on the page with HTC Universal information you will read our full HTC Universal (O2 Exec) review, plus our pictures. You will even find the Today screen in one of the screenshots with the Owner Name "Geekzone" in it. One of the images is hotlinked to our server, and you will see the default graphic we send out in these cases.

    If the page goes away before you can see it on htcwiki, here is a pdf of this page.

    Why I am ranting about this? For a company that makes the most interesting Windows Mobile devices, and it's being supported by a PR company such as WaggEd, it's a shame that they let people post someone else's material on their on-line property, without taking appropriate steps to ensure no copyright is breached.

    Investigating the site, this is what I could find on its About page:

    While this wiki is operated by HTC, its content is not managed by HTC.

    Nice try, but they also have a Terms of Use that says:

    By way of example, and not as a limitation, you agree that when using the Communication Services, you will not: ... Upload, or otherwise make available, files that contain images, photographs, software or other material protected by intellectual property laws, including, by way of example, and not as limitation, copyright or trademark laws (or by rights of privacy or publicity) unless you own or control the rights thereto or have received all necessary consent to do the same.


    Pursuant to Title 17, United States Code, Section 512(c)(2), notifications of claimed copyright infringement should be sent to Service Provider's Designated Agent.

    Who is the "Service Provider's Designated Agent"? There's no identification anywhere in the site, not even a way to contact HTC through the site.

    Oh, I hear you saying, why don't you e-mail the htciwiki guys directly? I would, but the only way to contact anyone on that site is by registering and then sending a private message to one of the moderators. I don't want to register on htcwiki and I don't want to talk to a moderator. The site has no contact information that I could easily find.

    I also get up to the walls here because HTC doesn't even reply to our e-mails about their products, and never sent anything for us to review (the HTC products we review are branded i-mate, Telecom or O2).

    It would be great to have an acknowledgement with proper attribution in the article. Even better would be to actually have a communication channel between HTC and people writing about their products, because the way they do it now, is really, really, well... sad.

    The New York Times Reader

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Sep-2006 11:12

    During Geekzone 2006 Microsoft's Nathan Mercer showed us the new The New York Times Reader (download), which was first seen on a post on

    Times Reader is built on WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), which is Microsoft's advanced UI technology for applications. To check out the WPF features in Times Reader, try some of these things:
  • Resize the window or change the font size - WPF automatically reflows the content and adjusts the number of columns.
  • Browse around the content itself - notice that the ads are themselves WPF (i.e. reflowable).
  • If you’re running on Windows Vista RC1, try a search from the Windows search bar – you’ll see NY Times news articles appear as files in the search.
  • Try the search link (just under the back/forward arrows). The articles are arranged in a heat map tile panel view, with the size denoting the importance of the article. This seems to be a work in progress, as some searches don't have many results at this point (e.g. a search for "microsoft").
  • Click the Topic Explorer (right-click > Topics, select a topic, then click the "Topic Explorer" radio button in the search results) and see an interconnected web of related articles.

  • All very interesting, as you can see on these screenshots below:

    The cool stuff is that this technology is the same used to create Microsoft Codename Max, which I commented about before.

    Where are you Microsoft Connect Beta Tester?

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Sep-2006 18:04

    This is quite cool. The guys at the Windows Vista Team Blog have taken their time to produce maps from all regions of the world, showing where Windows Vista Beta testers are:

    Microsoft Windows Vista Beta Testers in New Zealand

    We have approximately 30,000 Vista Beta testers in this program now.
    There are Windows Vista beta testers in 125 countries.
    We have testers in all 50 U.S. States, Puerto Rico, Guam and several other U.S. locations.
    Exactly 50% of our testers are somewhere other than the U.S.
    The northernmost person appears to be in Fairbanks, Alaska at 64.85 degrees N. latitude though it's a close call with a person in Iceland.
    The southernmost person appears to be in the Kerguelen Islands at 49.56 degrees S latitude.
    We have 1 person on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands.
    We also have a person in the Tuamoto archipelago which is almost exactly half-way between South America and Australia.
    If we had someone in the Yukon and someone in Labrador/Newfoundland we would have all Canadian provinces and territories represented.
    In the U.S. we have testers in over 6,000 zip codes, or well over 10% of all zip codes in the U.S

    The pushpins are only for the Windows Vista beta testers registered on Connect, the oficial beta test site for Microsoft. Go have a look at their blog post for other maps.

    If you are in New Zealand, registered on Connect and think you can see yourself in the map, leave a comment here!

    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 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 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.

    If you'd like to help me keep Geekzone going, please use this Geekzone Amazon affiliate link when placing any orders on Amazon.

    Social networks presence

    View Mauricio Freitas's profile on LinkedIn

    My Blog by tags...

    Viral Marketing...
    Web Performance Optimization...
    Windows Phone...

    Other recent posts in my blog

    Going to Microsoft TechEd New ...
    State of Browsers Geekzone Mar...
    Free speech...
    Testing the Kingston DataTrave...
    Telecom enforces SSL email, us...
    Windows XP end of support: 8 A...
    Take a bit of time to cleanup ...
    Geekzone is a 2013 ESET NetGui...
    Telecom NZ 2014 New Year decis...
    Spammers on LinkedIn...

    New posts on Geekzone