My window to the world


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...









Some other tools for Windows Admins: AdventNet AppManager

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Sep-2006 09:26

Continuing the series of posts about administration tools for servers (the previous post on this topic is here and you will find the other links from there, as a chain) I want to comment on a very nice tool from AdventNet: ManageEngine Applications Manager.

This web based tool provides the admin of a single or multiple servers a lot of information that would otherwise require many hours of work and hundreds of scripts to collate.

You are able to see in a glance the status of servers and applications around the organisation and create "monitors" for those. What applications can you check with this tool? It will be a long list:


You can see the information in many different ways, including icons, tables, by category, etc.

  • Applications: Microsoft .NET, Oracle Application Server, JBoss, Tomcat, BEA WebLogic, IBM WebSphere
  • Web services: Apache, IIS, PHP Monitorin
  • Database: Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, DB
  • Website: URL, record & playback HTTP requests, URL content
  • Servers: Windows, Linux, Solaris, IBM AIX, HP-Unix / Tru64 Unix, FreeBSD
  • E-mail: Exchange Server, other mail servers (POP3/SMTP)
  • Custom: JMX Consoles, SNMP Consoles, Custom Script, QEngine Script

    For example, for SQL Server you can find information about memory usage, buffer statistics, lock details, database statistics (including batch requests, compilations) and more. For servers you can have disc information, CPU utilisation, memory levels, etc. 


  • Is it enough? Not yet. For each monitor you can establish thresholds for availability and health, and have special actions taken, including sending messages to speficied e-mail addresses (great for SMS!).

    The insight you learn on your company's systems utilisation is great. You can see performance and monitors charts for a specified period, and even determine how long this data will be stored.

    The ManageEngine Applications Manager comes in a Professional Edition and a Free Edition. Yes, free as in gratis. The free edition does not allow user management and gives you five monitors (albeit this was reduced from previous versions where the number of free monitors was 10). You can see how I am using the free edition with my two servers here and happy with it.

    It communicates to other servers via SNMP or WMI, and for some database operations it will need  the admin password. For this reason I suggest you use a VPN to communication between servers. Check my previous post on Hamachi, a great tool, easy to configure, that can be used for this (I am using it now).

    It will use some resources though. The install process is painless, but prepare to have TOMCat, Apache and the ManageEngine installed. I suggest you change the Apache service to Automatic to allow you to see the tool from other computers without need to login to the server, and I also suggest you have the latest Java run time.

    The company behind this application has a lot of other tools available, for all sorts of IT tasks. But what's interesting is that they are also behind of the Zoho set of web-based office tools (think of word processing, presentation, collaboration, spreadsheet, CRM, project management).



    CDMA EVDO Rev A, HSDPA and more

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Aug-2006 12:23

    Last night I attended the Wellington Wireless Wednesday meeting, organised by the New Zealand Wireless and Broadband Data Forum (and yes there's an Auckland version of these meetings).

    It was a full house, and this time the group used the events room at Lone Star Wellington. Great meeting, and Lucent Technologies was running the bar tab.

    The main topic was the Telecom New Zealand upcoming introduction of CDMA EVDO Rev A. We had a presentation by Mike Hobby, from Lucent Technologies, who did a pretty good job of explaining the CDMA evolution.

    According to Lucent, those are the numbers (down/up) we have defined by the standards:

    CDMA EVDO Rev 0: 2.4Mbps/155Kbps
    CDMA EVDO Rev A: 3.1Mbps/1.8Mbps
    CDMA EVDO Rev B: 73.5Mbps/27Mbps
    CDMA EVDO Rev C: 129Mbps/75.6Mbps

    In real world CDMA EVDO Rev 0 (which we have here in New Zealand now) provides about 400-600Kbps downstream. He thinks CDMA EVDO Rev A should provide about 600-800Kbps, although in some tests (empty network, close to cell site) they got some pretty good numbers.

    Also during the talk it was confirmed that Telecom New Zealand will launch their CDMA EVDO Rev A network by December 2006. This is after the Vodafone New Zealand HSDPA launch, which has just been confirmed for 12 September.

    If you are lucky though and have a HSDPA device in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, go on, start using it. I understand the networks is currently up and running.

    So what's the HSDPA speeds? Initial deployment is 1.8Mbps/384Kbps, but Vodafone told me they are planning to have it bumped up to 3.6Mbps at launch. This is something to see. Also, as usual, this is the theoretical maximum speed, and as in any other technology only achievable under optimum conditions. A loaded network is a different story, and considering that HSDPA "breathes", in other words, more users means less coverage.

    While we are covering, er, coverage... Apparently TUANZ (Telecommunication Users Association NZ) had a meeting just the night before and Vodafone New Zealand was the showcase. Rightly so, because of their HSDPA offering to be soon unveiled. It seems they talked about coverage on that meeting, and someone present in both meetings asked the same question to Telecom: since both claim to cover 99% of the New Zealand population with cellular services, how much is actually covered by 3G services? It seems that Vodafone New Zealand is behind, with 45%, while Telecom New Zealand claims 75%.

    And talking about Vodafone New Zealand... I am still to see HSDPA in real life. I had a meeting in Auckland with their business folks and a nice demo, and two lunches here in Wellington with people involved on these deployments or equipment. So far I only heard the promises, but no one could come forward and say "Here, take this HSDPA card and try it and let people know what you think".

    Back to Telecom New Zealand. An interesting comment from Mike Hobby, about WCDMA LTE (which is supposed to come after HSDPA and HSUPA), is that it would use the same technologies as CDMA EV-DO Rev C (which is not ratified yet). So, in essence, sometime in the future, WCDMA and CDMA EV can join? Interesting to see what happens.

    Anyway, last night Telecom New Zealand gave away a CDMA EV-DO Rev A card to a lucky person in the audience, plus some free data. They must be getting close to testing this soon.





    Windows Live QnA Opens

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Aug-2006 10:54

    Remember how I was distributing invites for a beta of Windows Live QnA a few weeks ago? Don't worry about asking for an invite anymore, it seem like Microsoft has opened the service for the public, according to Techcrunch.






    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.

    A couple of blog posts you should read:

    Social networks presence

    View Mauricio Freitas's profile on LinkedIn


    My Blog by tags...

    Blog...
    Entrepreneurship...
    Media...
    Personal...
    Technology...
    Viral Marketing...
    Web Performance Optimization...
    Windows...
    Windows Phone...

    Other recent posts in my blog

    Trackers - How technology is h...
    Geekzone is a ESET NetGuide We...
    Windows Phone and Android apps...
    Minister for Economic Developm...
    Your NAS and the Bash vulnerab...
    Going to Microsoft TechEd New ...
    State of Browsers Geekzone Mar...
    Free speech...
    Testing the Kingston DataTrave...
    Telecom enforces SSL email, us...

    New posts on Geekzone