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Driving in New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Jul-2006 12:12

We can't place all the blame on the police patrols, all the time. If you drive in New Zealand, do yourself a favour and visit the following pages. And then send these links to your friends. And ask them to send to their friends.

- Using indicators on roundabouts;
- The give way rules;
- Passing another car;
- Turning;
- Using lanes correctly (including on turn).

The following is an interesting and tricky one. It's one of the items in the last item in the list, but most people I see driving around stop the traffic completely, waiting when in fact both vehicles should turn: two vehicles turning into the same road at a laned intersection.

It's incredible how many people in New Zealand do not indicate, or use the wrong indicators when entering roundabouts (no, you don't need to indicate if you are going straight, only when you are getting out of the roundabout, just look at the first picture on the link). Or drive slowly on the highways, just to accelerate when the passing lanes come. Or don't respect give way signs or marks on the streets. Or simply drive in front of cars coming on the main road, without full stop where required.

Is the Police running a quota system for speed violations or not?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Jul-2006 07:17

This is the final question one can have after reading this piece on the New Zealand Herald, which documents a memo that tells police officers to increase the number of tickets issued:

A June 21 job sheet for police officers in the Central North Island area tells officers to set up road blocks so they can target high volumes of traffic to finish "top group" in their district before the end of the financial year.

Although police have argued for years that motorists were not subject to a quota, the memo was last night seized upon by opposition politicians to attack the Government's credibility.

National's law and order spokesman Simon Power said: "The Government have been telling the public targets do not exist, that this is not a revenue-gathering exercise - but that is obviously not the case."
Act leader Rodney Hide said it made the police look like "just another branch of Inland Revenue". "This just proves what [Prime Minister] Helen Clark and the police have strenuously denied for years - that highway patrols are about government revenue gathering, rather than safer roads."

It is the second case in a month of a memo urging police to issue tickets. In Marlborough, the acting area commander told officers they had to issue two tickets a shift.

Your opinion is important. changes spam blocking policy

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jul-2006 10:26

I've received an e-mail today from Paradise with this:

We would like to inform you of a change to our spam and anti virus protection policy.

As spam volumes continue to increase, the percentage of incoming email that is classified as spam is also increasing. To address this issue, will be deleting spam automatically from your mailbox. 

From 29th of June, all email we classify as SPAM will be automatically deleted. This change will mean that you won't be using your mailbox quota as quickly. This change is made at and you do not need to do anything.

"As spam volumes continues to increase, the percentage of incoming email that is classified as spam is also increasing" surely is meant to be "As email volumes continues to increase...".

But the thing that worries me is false positives. All those Trademe e-mails, and I've seen a few going into the spam folder, which is only available through their webmail interface, leaving a lot of people without knowing what's going on.

On the bright side, I've noticed that their filters are generally good, but there are always false positives - as a lot of false negatives, since spammers are getting smarter.

No, I don't know the answer, but simply deleting the e-mails without passing them on to the users might cause some problems, unless the filters are better.

Perhaps the solution is better policies, sender authentication (no, not charging for e-mails as AOL wants to do) or some sort of certificate. But not too overly complicated as those spam blocking services that ask you to visit a webpage to enter a code for each e-mail you send to a friend - I stopped authenticating ages ago, I don't need to waste my time with that.

And blocking smtp ports is not the solution either, as Xtra did a few months ago. There are good legitimate reasons why people use this, and ISPs shouldn't "break" the Internet protocols.

What's new on Internet Explorer 7 Beta 3

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Jun-2006 19:37

Even though Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 was layout complete, this new beta version incorporates some changes requested by customers, mainly enhancements to the look and feel of the browser and changes to make the software more reliable, secure, and compatible.

This is a list of what's new on Internet Explorer Beta 3

- Add the e-mail button back to the toolbar
- Reorder web page tabs by dragging them left or right
- Scroll horizontally while zooming
- Incorporate all your RSS feeds automatically
- Mark your RSS feeds as "read"
- Find improved compatibility with websites and web applications
- Improved layout rendering and reliability
- Includes all security fixes in the June Internet Explorer Security Bulletin MS06-021

Oh, so Linux crashes too?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Jun-2006 12:50

This is too good to keep under wraps: applications can crash and turn Linux unusable too!

Ok, reading through the whole blog post it's clear that it was an application driver, but one comment is quite real: we shouldn't see this kind of problems on embedded applications.

A larger photo is available on flickr.

The NZ Maori Party views on telecommunications

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Jun-2006 11:35

If you live in New Zealand, or are interested in some telecommunications policy-making, you should read this pronouncement...

"What this means in effect is that the Bill is sending a strong public policy signal to Telecom and to Vodafone that they will be subject to a greater degree of government regulation."

"Hautaki, Saturn, Econet Wireless ltd, ACN, Kwiknet, netsurf, splurge, surfnet, slingshot, supra networks, actrix, raide internet, clear and Telstraclear, wave, ihug, woosh, xtra, paradise, wireless country….and that’s probably just a start."

Saturn? Econet?  "clear and Telstraclear"? xtra? He mixed old stuff, Telecom companies, stuff that is not even in the air yet..

"Why does it cost exactly the same in real terms to make a voice call from my office here in Parliament to my Wellington home- as it does to make a call to my home in Ngongotaha -that’s Rotorua for those who don’t know- and yet I am being charged extra, relative to the physical distance (and yet there is no electronic distance involved). The ability to be well-connected now means far more than the quality of your social networks, as perhaps it did in previous generations."

Because of the Government imposed Kiwi Share?

"People living in Pasifika families have the lowest levels of telephone and internet access in the home (88 and 16 percent respectively) followed closely by people living in Maori families (92 and 28 percent)."

Could that be because these segments are the ones in the lower income bracket?

"Sole parent families are half as likely as two parent families to have internet access (25% compared to 50 percent)."

Could it be because Internet is not the priority, and feeding the family is?

"This is particularly urgent for tangata whenua, as our Maori spectrum interests are associated with mobile. Until the mobile issues are sorted, tangata whenua access to the tele-communications industry and the three billion dollar mobile market is restricted."

Could it be because the spectrum is being "used" by Econet, with no outcome or service yet? If you don't know, Econet is planning to build a third cellular network in New Zealand. The company is owned by Zimbabwe-based Econet, and managed to get hold of some cheap 3G spectrum thanks to a deal with the Maori Spectrum Trust. The company also got a $5 million dollars grant from the government, but so far the new network has not been seen.

You can read more about Econet in this interesting article, from 2005 when the company's boss says "None of the other operators have built [third generation] networks yet but we're the ones who've been kicked around for not building one. We've almost been treated like criminals."

This has been building up since 2000. Six years is a long time to build a new network.

"They take infra-red photos of each other while I’m still searching for the on-off button."

Infrared photos? With a mobile phone?

"At least I’m one ahead of one of my co-leaders, who calls his new-age phone his raspberry."

Now, this is a good punch...

And a discussion is going on in our Geekzone Forums.

Windows Mobile User Group meeting report (29 Jun 2006)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Jun-2006 21:35

Tonight we had another Windows Mobile User Group meeting, here in Wellington. Attendance was ok, still not many people as I'd like, and less than our record sessions a couple of years ago.

I wonder why is that? Is that people are not interested in development for this platform, is the last Thursday of the month a not so good day for these meetings, or something else?

Anyway, this time we moved the meeting from the traditional Microsoft office location to Unisys. Thanks to John Cleveland who arranged with Unisys to host and supply us with the traditional drinks and pizza.

First to talk was Nick Randolph (Microsoft MVP .Net CF and general good guy), who is living in Wellington for six months because of a consulting gig. He's from Australia, and is coming along to my weekly Wednesday coffee meetings at Astoria as well. He showed interest in participating in our user group, so nothing better than making him talk!

His session was about some development stuff related to data storage, connectivity options and management, SMS notification, user interface design. He also showed some code and did a demo involving replication between SQL 2005 and a mobile database. Cool stuff.

I then did a quick run of the new Archer Field PC, running Windows Mobile 5.0... This is a very interesting rugged Pocket PC, and I managed to keep it here for an extra week, just to show it during the user group meeting. You can find more about it through Lat37 (New Zealand) or through the manufacturer, Juniper Systems.

The first five people to arrive each got a Culminis T-Shirt. We also had a copy of Microsoft Voice Command to give away, a copy Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition, a couple of copies of Caveman for Pocket PC.

See you in the next meeting!

Some Windows Vista and Office 2007 woes

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jun-2006 18:47

I spent the day in Sydney, Australia, participating on an Intel event. I am now at the Sydney Airport, connected to Optus Wireless via Wi-Fi.

The whole day I tried to connect to Wi-Fi networks almost everywhere - unfortunately it seems only Telstra Hotspots are available on Starbucks, Queen Victoria Building and some othe places. I couldn't connect to the Telstra Hotspot with my Tablet PC running Windows Vista.

While my Pocket PC had no problems at all, Windows Vista never got a valid IP address, in 5 different hotspots I tried - including the airport.

So I tried Optus here, and it worked. So I can be led to believe Telstra has something really wrong on their network, and Windows Vista doesn't like it.

also I spent until midnight removing Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 from this Tablet PC and installed Microsoft Office 2003. And all that work going on, even though I had to be at the airport at 4am!

The reason I removed Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 is because I need Outlook working! Outlook 2007 (Beta 1 and Beta 2) could only connect to my Exchange Server from within my home network. Anywhere else (GPRS, CDMA, Wi-Fi providers) and it would simply stall and not connect.

I removed this beta, installed Outlook 2003 and guess what? It worked fine straight away. No problems at all.

This proves the problem is not on my Exchange Server, not on my firewall, but on this Outlook 2007. The bad thing is that I raised this as a bug twice and it was closed twice with no resolution.

State: it's possible to travel to Australia and back in a single day

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Jun-2006 15:33

Fancy that... I always purchase travel insurance with State Insurance. But for some unknown reason their on-line system doesn't understand that it's quite possible to leave New Zealand for a single day - that is fly to Australia and back within the same date...

Crossbow to kill Blackberry?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Jun-2006 10:25

If you read Geekzone for some time you will find out that is our policy not to publish rumours or information we have under NDA. That's why you won't find out much about the upcoming Windows Moble Crossbow, which is rumoured to be "Second Edition" release of Windows Mobile 5.0.

Some say the MSFP is the Blackberry killer. Some say it may be Crossbow. Perhaps this page about Crossbow actually tells us what it is?

If you want to read the rumours, then Google is your friend.

Thanks to riki, fellow Microsoft MVP for the tip. He authors some interesting software for Windows Mobile Smartphone (such as Theme Changer and AbstractStart).

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'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums.

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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.

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