My window to the world


Ask MSN Encarta

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Aug-2006 13:29

You probably know that before Wikipedia we had access to MSN Encarta, the on-line version of Microsoft's Encarta encyclopaedia software for Windows PCs.

What some of you don't know is that there is a way to have quick answers to your questions, directly from your Windows Live Messenger (a.k.a. MSN Messenger) window.

How can you do that? Simply add the address encarta@botmetro.net to your contact list. Pretty soon it will identify itself as "Encarta Instant Answers". Follow the instructions to setup which Encarta version you rather use (Australia, UK, US) and you are ready.

To ask anything just send the question to this contact as an instant message and you will get a reply. Sometimes the bot will ask if you want to open a link to a map, or image.


That's pretty cool. I wonder if there's a SDK for this kind of "intelligent responder".





Required tools for Windows Admins

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Aug-2006 10:29

I have to maintain a few Windows boxes around here: the Geekzone webserver (which is a co-located dedicated server), our local Windows 2003 server (which runs Microsoft Exchange and Newsgator), a Windows XP Pro desktop and a Windows XP Pro Tablet PC.

Keeping all this running and up-to-date requires some tools for remote access, patch deployment, inventory, etc.

The following are the tools I have on the server, and really work great:

1) Raxco PerfectDisk 7.0 (www.raxco.com)
Great defrag options, very fast (unless you have a 1TB HDD like one of my drives) and it also defragments Microsoft Exchange Store!


2) LogMeIn IT Reach (www.logmein.com):
Although I use GoToMyPC (www.gotomypc.com) on my desktop and server at home, LogMeIn offers in addition to remote access a very nice tool for remote administration: LogMeIn IT Reach. You have complete control of your Windows Server (or any other Windows flavour) with full security. A nice web-based user interface, plus remote access, guest control, and full management capabilities:


3) Sitekeeper (www.sitekeeper.biz):
Complete automated software management is what you get with Sitekeeper. It does what the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer does (for software only), plus software inventory, patch deployment (to local and remote machines on a network), license compliance management and more:


I have not touched some backup software, but this will be in another post.

What tools are you using to maintain your Windows servers and network? Post your recommendations in the comments below (but if you're the developer please let us know, full disclosure please!)












Getting to know Ferrit (part II)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Aug-2006 19:44

As promised last week, today I had a phone call with Ferrit's Ralph Brayham, General Manager, and Steve Plank, CIO.

The summary of this call is now on-line on Geekzone.



Update your Intel Centrino based laptops and tablet PCs now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Aug-2006 09:15

Oh well, Intel has notified everyone through a page on their site of some vulnerabilities found on their Centrino wireless chipset. The full disclouse is here.

The flaw affects mobile computers based on Intel Centrino platform, including laptops and tablet PCs (such as my Toshiba M205).

Affected products include those with Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG Network Connection and Intel PRO/Wireless 2915ABG Network Connection

The download is about 60MB and you can update the drivers quickly.



Microsoft Flight Simulator X trial available

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Aug-2006 09:50

Do you remember almost 25 years ago (1982) when Microsoft released Flight Simulator for IBM PC? Check the screenshot below (from The Old Flight Simulator Vault):


To celebrate 25 years of Flight Simulator on PCs, Microsoft has released Flight Simulator X. The software comes in two editions:

Standard Edition
- 2 DVD
- 18 airplanes
- 40 high-detail airports (16 new to Flight Simulator)
- 28 high-detail cities
- 30+ structured missions

Deluxe Edition
- 2 DVD
- 24 airplanes
- 45 high-detail airports (21 new to Flight Simulator)
- 38 high-detail cities
- 50+ structured missions
- Glass panel (G1000) cockpit
- Tower controller

Now check out a screenshot, to see the difference:



A free trial, with two airports, three missions, and three different aircraft is available for download (about 640MB!) on the Microsoft Flight Simulator X official website now.



Working hard on Geekzone

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Aug-2006 19:44

I would love to be able to post a bit more here in this blog and on Geekzone - even though I still post a lot, and have time to chat in our #geekzone channel on IRC.

The truth is, between working full time here on Geekzone, organising Geekzone 2006, and feeding the baby on my turns it's full on!

What, would you ask, are you doing full time on Geekzone?

Well, I am really excited about the changes we are introducing here. All will be unveiled during the Geekzone 2006, but you might have seen a couple of new discussion forums on Geekzone with a small padlock - sorry you can't access them, yet.

As part of the new features being introduced on Geekzone we will be creating Private and Subscribers forums.

Private forums are only accessible to users who are allowed to access the information there. This is going to be great for companies (we can have "invisible" private forums) wanting to have a managed discussion space, but out of the public eyes.

The Subscribers forums will be available only to, well, subscribers. I can't say much more now, but yes we will be introducing a subscription option on Geekzone. Subscribers will have many benefits, but I will not list these here. We will have specific blog posts in the Official Geekzone blog later, when the time comes.

Now, back to getting all these ideas out of the paper and into the site. See you at Geekzone 2006!






Applying a skin to my Tablet PC

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Aug-2006 15:28

A few months ago I got a skin to apply to one of my Pocket PCs, to review the Telecom New Zealand's Skinit service.

Since my review the lineup has been growing quite a bit - they now include some mobile phones from other networks (such as Vodafone), portable media devices and laptops.

During our weekly chat we gave away a voucher for one of these skins, and I decided to revisit the on-line store. To my surprise they now stock skins for my Tablet PC, the Toshiba M200/M205! I ordered one and two days later got it in the mail.

Here it is:




Note that it doesn't come with that Internet Explorer sticker - that's on top of my own "personal tablet PC". And for fellow Americans reading this blog, follow the link to your equivalent Skinit.

Ah, and I want to see users of slate Tablet PCs do it!








New Zealand Google Maps mashup

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Aug-2006 11:25

Interested in finding some cool New Zealand information based on Google Maps? The Google Maps Mania blog has posted a New Zealand Google Maps Mashup Roundup.

For example, did you know ther's a website where you can find all New Zealand wind farms? Check the start map:


More links on New Zealand Google Maps Mashup Roundup.




Connect to me...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Aug-2006 14:59

If you are on Linkedin, then check my Personal Linkedin Profile, and connect to me. If you want an e-mail for contact, try freitasm at this domain...







Detecting Internet Explorer Mobile

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Aug-2006 11:13

You have a nice Windows Mobile device, supporting 3G, HSDPA, CDMA EVDO, Wi-Fi, VGA resolution - but your bank's website say you can't access it because your browser is too old. Or your preferred airlines won't show you the fligh schedules because your browser is not up-to-date.

Even though the moderm mobile browsers do a lot, you can find this kind of problem. And it's not a problem on your ultra-geeky mobile device, but most of the times developers don't take this in consideration.

The Microsoft Windows Mobile is changing the way Internet Explorer Mobile reports the User-Agent string. This change will be effective from an upcoming Windows Mobile version, which should come after the current Windows Mobile 5.

The changes are:

For Windows Mobile 5.0, our "current" release, the User-Agent header that the browser sends across is one of the following two strings:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; 240x320)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; Smartphone; 176x220)

Some of the really broken sites we've seen were looking for the resolution information, and using that to deliver a mobile page.  That's wrong, because that information may be absent on some devices from the User-Agent string (more about that in a minute...)


Others were using one of many badly written samples out there on the net, finding only, "MSIE 4.01," then kicking the browser out of the site, because they wanted IE 5.5 or IE 6.0 only.

Moving forward, here's the new IE Mobile User-Agent string:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows CE; IEMobile m.n)

If you want to detect the new browsers coming out, just look for the string "IEMobile" as part of the User-Agent header.  Since the capabilities of the Pocket PC and Smartphone versions of the browser are identical, and they're built from the identical code base, there's no reason to differentiate them any more. 

Additional headers we send are:

UA-pixels: {i.e. 240x320}
UA-color: {mono2 | mono4 | color8 | color16 | color24 | color32}
UA-OS: {Windows CE (POCKET PC) - Version 3.0}
UA-CPU = {i.e. ARM SA1110}
UA-Voice = {TRUE | FALSE}



More information on IEMobile Team Weblog. You can refer your bank's IT department to that page...








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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