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The NZ government can help businesses too...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Sep-2006 10:55

I run a small business. I work from home, and at the current stage I'd love to be able to hire a professional editor, a sales person, and one or two overseas-based writers. But I can't. Unless I manage to get an interest-free loan from the New Zealand governement, which is possible according to Stuff's article $12m hi-tech loan criticised (I am quoting here because Stuff removes the content after a month or so):

Prime Minister Helen Clark said yesterday that the Cabinet had agreed to lend Right Hemisphere up to $US8m ($NZ12.2m) over three years to keep the joint-venture company and its staff in New Zealand.

The loan follows the departure of several other New Zealand-based companies overseas and is being made against the advice of Treasury, which says it is unfair to others and not a good investment.

Right Hemisphere, a computer graphics company, was founded in New Zealand but now has a significant part of its business based in Los Angeles. The company had warned it would have to completely relocate overseas if it could not find new investors.

The company designs software for several US military suppliers, including Black Hawk helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft, Bell Helicopter, Halliburton, the principal supplier to US armed forces in Iraq, and Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defence contractor.

In a surprise move, the Government has agreed to an interest-free loan on the basis the company stays in New Zealand for three more years. If it does not, it will have to pay 25 per cent interest on the money. The Government believes the investment will pay off in downstream benefits.

The move has infuriated the founder of regional airline Origin Pacific, which folded this year under intense competition from majority Government-owned Air New Zealand after the Government refused to help bail it out.

Robert Inglis said his company had asked for half as much money as Right Hemisphere, and on a fully commercial loan basis.

Dunedin-based computer graphics company Taylor Made said the Government loan was highly unusual.



With 10% of that money I think we could take Geekzone to the next step. I'd love to get an interest free loan, and we would be creating job positions!





The New York Times goes mobile

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Sep-2006 10:13

The reason for this blog post is the launch of the Ney York Times Mobile Edition. This is pretty cool, even though I see this as a marketing move from Microsoft to reach the large readership base of the U.S-based newspaper. jkOnTheRun has more details.

The news come down in a handheld-compatible format. It renders well on Internet Explorer Mobile, and correctly identifies the mobile browser. You just have to point the browser to http://mobile.nytimes.com/ and you will have something like this:


Very nice layout, fits extremely well on a mobile device. Note that "Windows Mobile" branding. Like the MSNBC smart client (which I am using on my Pocket PC and is quite cool, I should post about it later), this seems to be a marketing exercise to move the brand forward into the public view.

I wonder if any New Zealand newspapers would do this?  I know the NZ Herald offers PDA client, but it requires 1.5MB memory on your device, and the system requirements link goes to a "page not found". It should really be just a mobile version of their pages, visible through a web browser though, so people wouldn't have to fiddle around with downloading installers, installing new applications using precious memory on the device, etc. On these days almost all PDA sold is connected to a cellular data network, so why not use this infrastructure?




Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta Invites Available

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Sep-2006 22:25

After a few glitches with the invitation system, I finally got to use Microsoft's Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta. This program is the future replacement of Outlook Express, it seems.

I have some invites available for this Windows Live Beta, and you just have to post a request here for me to send it. I will post a reply when I run out of invitations. There is no need to publish your e-mail address, I will send it to the e-mail in the comment authentication.

Make sure you use your hotmail.com address and that you are already using Windows Live Mail. If you are using the old Hotmail service this will not work, and it will be a waste of your time and my time.



The program brings together an e-mail client supporting POP3, IMAP, GMail and Windows Live Mail (previously known as Hotmail), newsgroup reader (NNTP), RSS Feed Reader (but you must have Internet Explorer 7 installed for this feature to work), contacts (synchronised with your Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Messenger account) and Calendar.

By the way, if you have a Windows Live Mail account then you also have 2GB storage (less than the current Lycos Mail 3GB option or the GMail ever increasing 2GB and counting option). But still a considerable mailbox size.

It has some interesting features, such as Windows Live Mail client (even if you don't have the premium hotmail service!), Active Search, which brings results related to the topic in the e-mail or newsgroup, and a most requested feature: automatic bottom reply in newsgroups!

When receiving the invitation it may look like an empty message. My suggestion is to forward this message without any changes to another e-mail address where you can see the source code (send to another e-mail address and save the message as HTML, then open on notepad). You will be able to find the invitation URL, something like http://ideas.live.com/AcceptInvitation.aspx?[long_code_here]. Simply copy and paste the entire URL (including the code) and login to your Live account when requested.

Complicated? Well, if you are reading this and want it badly, then that's how to do it (until Microsoft fixes the invitations).






Microsoft Student Day 2006

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Sep-2006 12:46

I was talking to Microsoft's Darryl Burling and got an invitation to spend some time today with students - and so I came to attend the Microsoft Student Day 2006, happening here in Wellington. Lots of Microsofties here, including Nigel Parker, Nathan Mercer, Sean McBreen and Darryl of course, among others.

About 170 students Are here at the event, which showcases Microsoft technologies and explain how they can be used.  All sorts of cool information about Windows Vista, Live.com services, .Net technologies, etc. While here I will be showing some Windows Mobile devices, including Pocket PCs, portable media center and other mobile technologies.

At the end of the event there's an "Ask the Industry" time, so students can ask experts about IT, technologies in general and work at Microsoft and other companies.

I was actually planning to finish some development tasks here at Geekzone, but since the local power company decided that today was a good day for an outage, I had to get out of the house. Off came the desktop, the Exchange server and other appliances.

Since my Exchange server is down today (from 8am through 4pm) I will have an e-mail free day. Yay! People still can catch me on Windows Live Messenger though, because from time to time I use my Pocket PC to login and check how things are going.

Also, very convenient to have the Sierra Wireless card on loan, I can connect to Vodafone's HSDPA network, and since it's not officially launched I can enjoy almost full speed - for now. Let's see how this network performs in the next couple of months with the number of users joining the service.

At the moment it keeps bouncing from HSDPA to WCDMA to GPRS, which is due to low coverage in this area (and because I am indoors, and we all know how bad WCDMA 2100 MHz can be indoors).




Edelman and Technorati PR study of Japanese bloggers: same everywhere

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Sep-2006 10:43

Edelman's Japanese subsidiary (www.edelman.co.jp and www.edelman.com), has announced the results of a study of 213 Japanese bloggers that the agency recently conducted with Technorati Japan (www.technorati.jp and www.technorati.com).

The primary purpose of the study was to discover how Japan's bloggers communicate with companies and write about their products, with a view to determining general blogger PR preferences for corporate and product communications.

No surprises here, and I would say these results are not only applicable to Japan, but to any other country where the blog culture has coming to be part of the day-to-day of Internet users (this should be probably anywhere in the world with a decent Internet usage penetration).

The numbers won't lie: seventy percent of the respondents said that among the reasons they blog is 'to create a record of their thoughts;' 63.8% said that they blog 'to create a record of the information that I have gained;' and, 58.7% said that they blog 'to share information I have gained with others' (multiple reasons for blogging were allowed).

Just 4.7% of the Japanese bloggers surveyed said that the primary reason they blog is to 'raise visibility as an authority in my field, whereas 33.9% stated in a similar Edelman/Technorati American-based study of English language bloggers last year that this is their primary reason for blogging -- seemingly a significant cross-cultural difference.


Now, check these numbers: a total of 84.5% said that they blog about companies (their industry, service, products), with 49.3% doing so at least once a week (with 14.6% saying 'daily or almost daily'). But when asked "How often are you contacted by companies or their communications representatives?," a majority 55.4% said 'never.'

"What these results show is that while Japanese bloggers are communicating about companies or products all the time, companies are not communicating with them enough, even though conventional methods of corporate communications are still more trusted in Japan compared to America," says Edelman North Asia President Robert Pickard. "This seems to argue in favor of companies supplementing their traditional one-way 'monologue' communication of messages by engaging with bloggers online through a new two-way 'dialogue' where conversations are key."


The bold is mine.

Why did I highlight that part? Because it's true everywhere else. Companies still don't trust bloggers or don't want to communicate with the market they represent.

This week I joined Nielsen//NetRatings, under the Technology group. The main reason for that wasn't to find out how many pages other technology websites are serving, but to raise the visibility of Geekzone in front of PR companies and marketing departments.

Just for kicks, Geekzone jumped to #4 in the group on its first full day (NZ traffic) and #2 in total traffic (NZ and international) for both pages served and unique users. The methodology is still behind the days, in terms of blogging. For example there's no accountability of RSS feed readers, and according to Feedburner we can have up to 15,000 feed readers on a given day.

Now, while this the first day, I won't be taking this too seriously (hmmm, sort of) until the end of the month with more numbers coming in. But it shows to companies that they can't simply ignore non-MSM websites.  Companies have to give us a chance!




Windows Vista RC1 CPP clarification

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Sep-2006 10:15

As you now know from lots of sites and blogs around the net (here on Nathan's Technet blog for example), Microsoft Windows Vista RC1 is available for download from the official Windows Vista site for participants in the Community Preview Program (CPP).

However there is a catch, and you should know this before you start a lengthy download: you need a product key (PID)! You will be able to use the same product key from Beta 2, if you were part of the original TechBeta or MSDN beta programmes, as well as PID issued when you register for the CPP.


Please note that currently the CPP is not accepting new registrations. If you don't already have a PID you will not be able to activate your copy of Windows Vista RC1, so don't waste your time and bandwidth downloading it now.

However, Microsoft plans to open the Customer Preview Program back up for new registrants. If you are not part of the original CPP, you will need to wait until the CPP opens to the public in order to register for a PID and install RC1. 

By the way, from experience and reading other blogs, don't waste your time and my time asking for registration keys in the comments. Read the post again!








More Vodafone HSDPA: get discounts on a HSDPA USB modem

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Sep-2006 16:53

This just in - but going fast. Vodafone New Zealand has launched a viral campaign to give away a few Vodem HSDPA USB modems, plus discounts for the people not in the top #10 "watchers". Actually only the top 8, because two are booked for auction on Trademe.

All you have to do is to visit http://www.vodem.co.nz and register your name there.

The Vodem is the same modem launched by Vodafone UK. The drivers and software come preloaded in flash memory, so you don't have to fiddle around with CDs for installation. Very handy.

Get in to win some...





Vodafone NZ HSDPA, first speed test

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Sep-2006 13:21

First results just in. I was wrong, it looks like there's HSDPA coverage in Johnsonville. It seems the Sierra Wireless AirCard software does not show a HSDPA icon, only 3G in the status window, so I connected from home (in Johnsonville) and ran this test through speedtest.net (what a cool graphical interface):


The results are 1.4Mbps down, 93Kbps up. I've used the direct.vodafone.net.nz APN, to go around Vodafone's optimiser proxy.

I will now move closer to the mall where reception is better and test from there, while having a coffee.

UPDATE: Testing in Johnsonville the download speed stayed the same, but the upload speed jumped to 340Kbps. Also the dialer software now shows [HS] in the status icon bar. Strange because it wasn't showing before, but the speeds were HSDPA all right...







Vodafone NZ to launch HSDPA on 12 September

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Sep-2006 11:32

By now most of you should know that Vodafone New Zealand will soon be releasing an update to its 3G network (based on WCDMA technologies) to a next level of performance.

The new service, dubbed by Vodafone "3G Broadband" is based on HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Access), an evolution of its current network.

I got word from Vodafone New Zealand that 3G Broadband will be launched 12 September. Same information came from Juha's blog.

I actually have just received an e-mail invitation to join Vodafone New Zealand GM, Russell Stanners, and the Vodafone team on some drinks to celebrate the "go live" of this new network.

"Go live" is just a way to say it. The HSDPA service is actually already available in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch (the last city where a trial with about 100 users was run).

But just living on an area with 3G coverage is not enough to use this service. It is limited to certain centres only (I can't even access HSDPA here in Johnsonville yet, although the 3G service in general works fine).

But if you are the lucky owner of a HSDPA-enabled device, start using it. I just borrowed a Sierra Wireless AirCard 850 PC Card (max 1.8Mbps) from a friend to use on my Tablet PC for a few days so I will have a better idea before the event happens (no, Vodafone New Zealand have not sent any card or devices to bloggers or media yet).


The information we have is that this new cellular data network will initially allow 1.8Mbps maximum download speeds (I'd expect more like 700Kbps though), with a soon to be released update to 3.6Mbps link. There are some comments coming out of Vodafone New Zealand about a future update that will bring the network to 7.2Mbps speeds. How fast it will go under load is something we still have no idea, but soon we'll learn. For comparison sake, check Telecom New Zealand's CDMA EV-DO future.

Also, you will need new devices. Your current GPRS or 3G VMC (Vodafone Mobile Connect card) will not work with this network. I am told that a USB modem (launched in the UK as Vodafone Mobile Connect USB Modem) will be available here. The cool stuff is that drivers and software are pre-installed in its flash memory, so you can just plug and use it, with no need to handle CDs to install software.

Also coming (but no date set yet) is the Vodafone-branded Palm 750v, a Windows Mobile handheld, and the i-mate JASJAM, both compatible with the new HSDPA network. And a couple of Samsung mobile phones, including one with a cool 3.2 megapixel digital camera.

So, let's see how this works out, come 12 September.

UPDATE: It looks like there's HSDPA coverage here in Johnsonville. Check my first speed test results on Vodafone NZ HSDPA.








Windows Vista RC1 Released

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Sep-2006 17:12

It's official: Microsoft Windows Vista Release Candidate 1 (RC1) is now available for participants of its TechBeta community. If you have access to the Microsoft Connect website and is part of the Windows Vista beta program, then you can download x86 and x64 ISO images now.

While details about availability of this build for others (public, MSDN) are not set yet, the Windows Vista team blog has a letter from Jim Alchin (Microsoft Platforms and Services co-president) about this release.


I will post more details as they become available. Keep an eye on this space during the next week (subscribe to my RSS feed) because we will have some more information coming out soon...









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.

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 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.

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.



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