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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.






    Even more required tools for Windows Admins: WebDrive

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Aug-2006 18:17

    This is part III of a series of posts showing some of the software tools I use on a daily basis. While I previously covered system maintenance tools and private networking before, this time it's a file management tool: WebDrive.

    This small tool is a perfect utility for file operations over a network, with the ability to connect to FTP and SFTP servers, WebDAV servers and to the .Mac iDisk service.

    What's more important about it? The program does so in a transparent way, and actually maps a drive letter to the server. When used over a private network such as a VPN tunnel or Hamachi, then you have a nice and secure way of accesing your server and copy files from and to it.


    As a bonus, WebDrive maps can be used from the command line, making it perfect for scheduling backup operations from scripts for example.

    Not a free software, but an important tool on my desktop.




    Windows Live Hotspot Locator is... Live!

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Aug-2006 10:24

    Another live.com application being released by Microsoft is the Windows Live Hotspot Locator. The information present here is not much different from what you get from other sites such as jiwire or even our own Geekzone Find Wi-Fi Hotspot page (data provided by HotSpotHeaven).

    Actually the data returned by Microsoft's Windows Live Hotspost Locator is provided by jiwire.

    The interesting thing is the complete integration with maps provided by Windows Local Live. The only problem is that all maps are wrong (at least for New Zealand). Take a look in the screenshot below and you will notice that the pushpin is pointing to an address at least six blocks away from the actual location.

    But wait, there's more! It doesn't matter what location you select for Wellington, New Zealand, the map is the same. It's not a cache problem, because I tried the same on Firefox (yes, it runs on Firefox and really well!) and the maps were all the same.

    Also, for New Zealand results you will see that Telecom New Zealand is listed as "iPass", while CafeNet gets its own label "CafeNet".

    So, really, just another service adding to a bunch of well established providers out there... Sorry, but that's the truth.








    I am looking for a fast wireless access point router

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Aug-2006 18:11

    We currently have a Belkin F5D7230-4 here, and although it's a great device (been up 24/7 for the last few years, and another Belkin before that went 24/7 for at least 3 years) I feel like it could deliver a bit more performance.

    We have a 10Mbps cable-modem connection here, with my Windows XP Pro desktop, a second Windows XP Pro desktop running Virtual Server with a Windows Server 2003 guest OS, a tablet PC, an Apple iMac and a couple of Pocket PCs. Of those, only the tablet PC and Pocket PCs connect via Wi-Fi. And visitors' devices of course. All other PCs are connected via ethernet.

    I also would like to have a better control of its firewall, such as better logging, to know what's going on, alarms, etc. If possible some intrusion detection too.

    So, if you have any suggestions I'd like to hear (or read). I don't mind another Belkin, I am happy with the brand, but please no D-Link models - any!







    Update your Intel Centrino based laptops Part II

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Aug-2006 10:20

    A few weeks ago I posted about an update for the wireless drivers used by Centrino-based laptops and tablet PCs (Update your Intel Centrino based laptops and tablet PCs now). This is a follow up post.

    I've seen mention to this very important update everywhere on the Internet. But what was not mentioned afterwards was the finding from F-Secure (which was the first to report the vulnerability) of memory leaks in the Intel wireless service used to manage wi-fi connections.

    The way to solve this issue is to use the Microsoft Windows Wireless Zero Config service instead and disable/remove the Intel PROSet/Wireless Service, keeping the new drivers in place (or installing the drivers manually).

    Instructions from F-Secure and a report from SANS.

    You should end up with drivers version 9.0.4.17 even if using the Windows configuration service.







    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.

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