My window to the world


Digg, here comes your competitor

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jun-2006 16:30

AOL is putting its weight behind the idea of crowd voting for stories, and changing the Netscape portal into a kind of Digg site. The new site will run on http://www.beta.netscape.com/

The change's been managed by Jason Calacanis, who created the Weblogs Inc. empire (owner of Engadget between others), and joined AOL when he sold his company to the big cheese.

Like Digg, users will vote on stories, and the most voted ones will make to the frontpage.
 
Techcrunch thinks that the effects on a small website could be even more devastating than a frontpage on Slashdot or Digg itself.

Unlike Digg though, the new site will also have an editor in each section, promoting specific stories.

More infomation and screenshot on Techcrunch.

UPDATE: The service is probably being hammered, because it loads very slowly for me, when it loads. I can't even login because the login page times out.

UPDATE: The service is now live on the main Netscape site: http://www.netscape.com.



The cost of SMS

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jun-2006 14:11

SMS (the Short Message Service) or text message, the service that allows anyone with a (compatible) mobile phone to send short messages, usually 160 bytes in lenght is certainly here to stay.

I was reading a discussion in the Geekzone forums about the usage of this as a tool for communication, and how mobile operators make it easy for people to get hooked on this service, so that in the future, when they get older, they keep using the more expensive services, eg. voice and data.

But is SMS cheaper, really? At NZ$0.20 each (if you don't have a plan with an allowance) the cost per megabyte (as in 1024 KBytes, as in 1024 Bytes) of data transferred over SMS is... NZ$1310.72, or the equivalent to 6553 short messages.  

So, to transfer 1MB of information through SMS it costs $1310.72 and you have to type (using those little fiddly keypads with flimsy T9 predicitve text recognition) about 6553 SMS.

Right... For me it's much cheaper to get a Pocket PC and send e-mails, which should cost about US$49/GB on some plans currently available.

Note that I am using megabytes as in 1024 kilobytes, kilobytes as in 1024 bytes, the standard binary notation, not the decimal one.




Your Money Tax at Work (TM)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jun-2006 12:06

This is the kind of headline that makes you think twice before jumping into action to help victims of natural disaters:

[US]$200 bottle of champagne from Hooters and [US]$300 worth of "Girls Gone Wild" videos were among items bought with debit cards handed out by FEMA to help hurricane victims, auditors probing [US]$1 billion in potential waste and fraud have found.

The cards -- given to people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita -- also bought diamond jewelry and a vacation in the Dominican Republic, according to the Government Accountability Office audit.


More and full (gory) details at CNN.com's "FEMA hurricane cards bought jewelry, erotica".

We arranged with i-mate to have a Windows Mobile Smartphone sent to us for an on-line auction, with full proceedings going to the US Red Cross. I know, this is not the same, but it makes you think about how governments spend the money they collect from you through taxes.

What's the New Zealand equivalent to this?

The New Zealand government is currently sitting on a US$8.5 billion surplus. Are we paying too much tax?



PassBuilder: On-line password generator

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jun-2006 10:37

Are you like many others and use the same password for every service, web site, ATM card you own?

The folks at Ilium Software have released a simple to use on-line password generator called PassBuilder, where you specify parameters and a new password will be created specially for your use.

And once you have lots of different password, do yourself a favour and use eWallet (for Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Windows Mobile Smartphone, with desktop versions included) so you have all those different passwords handy.








Live UK TV: FIFA World Cup 2006 Germany

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Jun-2006 23:01

Just found out about http://www.liveuktv.com/ and subscribed to it - at least during the FIFA World Cup 2006.

The service streams live UK TV over the Internet, including BBC1, BBC2, itv and Channel 4. This costs US$45/month.

Not cheap, but I can watch the matches from my PC at home while working on Geekzone. And cheaper than having a new channel installed just for this month. Oh, and I can watch anywhere where I have a laptop with me.

I also have to test this with the Pocket PC - although something tells me that the DRM license acquisition may be a problem on those devices. And Wi-Fi would probably suck the device's battery if used during the 90 minutes match.





Managing Microsoft Windows Vista UAC in restricted environments

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jun-2006 19:10

The following tip is only to be applied in restricted environments, where the user knows exactly what's installed on a machine and knows exactly what has to be done.

Anyone else using this will feel the Wrath of Khan.

If you are running Microsoft Windows Vista and you keep seeing those dialogs requesting for privilege elevation or authentication, run SECPOL.MSC, and under security options change both User Account Control: Behavior of the elevation prompt for Administrators in Admin Approval Mode and User Account Control: Behavior of the elevation prompt for standard users to "No Prompt":


Again, this is very important to note: there is a reason why these settings are like they are and request your confirmation. I understand that after a while the default settings (with prompts) will not prevent people installing malware, simply because people will start clicking [OK] for any prompt to get their work done.

But I also understand these prompts are annoying, when you are trying to empty the Recycle Bin, or simply start Windows Vista with an antivirus (Avast anti-virus is an example of program that cause Windows Vista to prompt for elevation on every boot).

If you want to know exactly what each option is, how an why they are set the way they are by default, check these two MSDN blog entries:

- Reducing Elevation Prompts in RC1
- User Account Control Windows Vista Policies



Windows Vista: order the DVD

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Jun-2006 21:12

From The Hive, a Microsoft-sponsored forum for website owner and community leaders:

Due the HUGE number of people who are trying to download the Vista beta, Microsoft is now highly recommending that you order the DVD. 

It looks like Vista has generated the most download requests for one file in history.  This is a limited beta, so if that limit is reached before you get the download and key, you might not get it.

1) We are hitting a legitimate threshold as to how fast we can serve up the bits without affecting the rest of the Net.
2)  People should consider ordering the DVD. While we are excited to see the huge demand, this is more about being good citizens and helping users who are waiting know they can order the DVD.



You can register, order the DVD or download Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 2 here.




House Rejects Net Neutrality

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Jun-2006 17:54

According to a report on C|NET, the House of Representatives rejected the concept of Net Neutrality by 269-152.

The implication here is that US-based providers will be able to differentiate traffic based on their own requirements, and according to some defending the principle this could impact on smaller websites and services, which could not compete with larger organisations if everything came down to money - paying to have your traffic flowing ahead of the competition.

"The future Sergey Brins, the future Marc Andreessens, of Netscape and Google...are going to have to pay taxes" to broadband providers, said Rep. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat behind the Net neutrality amendment. This vote will change "the Internet for the rest of eternity," he warned.


For Americans, you can read more about this issue and outcomes here.

We have some Net Neutrality experience here in New Zealand, but not all is neutral. Some ISPs decided to peer with others and exchange traffic, through the Wellington Internet Exchange and others (Auckland, Palmerston North, Dunedin and more on the way). This guarantees a faster flow of data inside the country.

The problem is that not all ISPs agreed to peer, or decided to remove themselves from the peering exchanges. The results is that some of the New Zealand national traffic is actually routed somewhere overseas before coming back, making the whole Internet a lot slower for users here.

I know that two largest ISPs in New Zealand, Xtra and TelstraClear, are not peering, which may well cause delays in national traffic for the majority of Internet users in this country.

For example, when I try to see a stream from the Citylink Wellington Webcams I am actually greeted with a page explaining how sorry they are, explaining:

The various webcams that Citylink runs generate significant data traffic - during the day, about 20Mb/s, at night, about 10Mb/s. At peak times, it has moved as much as 700Mb/s of data. In the past, Citylink has incurred significant costs in delivering content from the webcams to users. I've been told never to let that happen again.

Thus, it has become necessary for Citylink to configure some of our services such that we don't run up a bill, by limiting access only to ISP's that choose to peer on WIX. These are generally high volume, low financial return services that are provided to encourage a competitive, vibrant and strong telecommunications and information technology industry.


Shame, really, because these decisions impact in the overall Internet usability in both cases.




Newsgator for Windows Mobile

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Jun-2006 16:42

I have been using the Newgator Mobile (beta) for a couple of weeks, but it looks like I can talk a bit about it now, since it's a according to Newsgator.

The software runs on Windows Mobile and completely integrates with the web-based Newsgator feedreader. It means that you can have all your Newsgator subscription being synchronised between the mobile device and the web-hosted RSS feedreader, replicating the Read status between device and on-line version.


The software has been under development by the guys behind Smartread, bought by Newsgator earlier this year.

You can download the beta now. I run my own Newsgator Enterprise Server (NGES), and apparently the NGES has all the same APIs as the public server, so in theory a future version of this software could even synchronise with NGES too.

Currently I synchronise the Newsgator Enterprise Server with my Exchange Server, so I get all my feeds on my Pocket PC through ActiveSync. The result is the same in terms of synchronisation, etc - but not everyone can run this platform, so the Newsgator Mobile software is perfect for users of the web-based Newsgator service.






Net Neutrality: contact your representative now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Jun-2006 11:28

I just received this e-mail from Google CEO, Eric Schmidt. Although I don't live in the USA, many of our readers do, so I decided to publish it here.

Also this is a most important issue, as explained in the letter.

Dear AdSense Publisher,

There's a debate heating up in Washington, DC on something called "net neutrality" – and the outcome of this debate may very well impact your business. Therefore, we are taking the unprecedented steps of calling your attention to this looming crisis and asking you to get involved.

Sometime in the next few days, the House of Representatives is going to vote on a bill that would fundamentally alter the Internet. That bill would give the big phone and cable companies the power to choose what you will be able to see and do on the Internet.

Today the Internet is an information highway where anybody – no matter how large or small, how traditional or unconventional – has equal access to everyone else. On the Internet, a business doesn't need the network's permission to communicate with a customer or deploy an innovative new service. But the phone and cable monopolies, who control almost all broadband Internet access, want the power to choose who gets onto the high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest. They want to build tollbooths to block the on-ramps for those whom they don't want to compete with and who can't pay this new Internet tax. Money and monopoly, not ideas and independence, will be the currency of their Internet.

Under the proposed "pay-to-play" system, small- and medium-sized businesses will be placed at an automatic disadvantage to their larger competitors. Those who cannot afford the new Internet tax – or who want to compete directly with the phone and cable companies – will be marginalized by slower Internet access that will inevitably make their sites less accessible, and therefore less appealing.

Creativity, innovation and a free and open marketplace are all at stake in this fight. Imagine an Internet in which your access to customers is constrained by your ability to cut a deal with the carriers. Please call your representative in Congress at 202-224-3121. For more information on the issue, and more ways to make your voice be heard, visit www.ItsOurNet.org.

Thank you for your time, your concern and your support.

Eric Schmidt
CEO of Google Inc.

P.S. -- If you are unsure of who represents you in Congress, you can look them up by zip code at http://www.house.gov. And if you would like to stay informed about this issue, and other policy issues affecting Google, you can opt-in to our policy mailing list at http://groups-beta.google.com/group/googlepolicy/subscribe (powered by Google Groups).


You can also find out more about this on this Google page on Net Neutrality.



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

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...
Windows XP end of support: 8 A...
Take a bit of time to cleanup ...

New posts on Geekzone