My window to the world

Telecom QuickChat and Versera: ahead of times

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Jun-2006 10:33

Back in 1999 I designed and lead the team who implemented Telecom New Zealand's QuickChat. The idea was simple: since they didn't have SMS capabilities at the time, and to compete with the new "TXT" crazy coming from the hordes of Vodafone users, Telecom thought of a service where anyone could send a 20 seconds voice message to any other phone.

The message would be delivered instantly or a scheduled retry would kick in. Then SMS came into CDMA world, and Quickchat was all but (almost) forgotten. It is still alive (I think) and the web page is still there. I even met some people during some Windows Mobile User Group meetings that actually prefer to use Quickchat than SMS. It's voice after all, with all the impressions and nuances this medium provide, not the cold SMS lingo.

I also worked in another project, for a Latin American telco, where one could send a SMS to any number, and a text-to-speech engine would deliver it as a voice message, with the same scheduled retry idea.

Skip 9 years, and I see this press release:

Glenayre Messaging, a division of Glenayre Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: GEMS) and a global leader in providing next-generation messaging solutions and enhanced services, announced that VoiceSMS capability will be available on its leading Versera ICE(tm) next-generation messaging platform in the third quarter of 2006. Versera(r) VoiceSMS combines the fidelity of voice mail with the ease of SMS, which allows subscribers to move beyond the limitations of text messaging and provides a new and richer communications experience. The company will demonstrate Versera VoiceSMS for the first time at the CommunicAsia exhibition in Singapore, June 20-23, 2006. (Glenayre stand 4E3-01).

With VoiceSMS, subscribers simply dial a short code and a destination phone number then leave a voice message in an easier and faster way than typing out an entire message on the mobile keypad. The recipient gets an SMS message notifying them that they have a VoiceSMS message, which can be played by selecting the link provided in the SMS message.

Oh well... Reinventing the wheel, add a couple of bells, and we have a new car, right?

Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 2 Public Availability Servers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Jun-2006 11:41

Ok, this is just in: you can watch a video (or download it) with Chris Jones, a corporate Vice President for Windows, with the announcement of the official Windows Vista Beta 2 for the public eyes!

Just check this link for the video (links to Windows Vista Beta after the logo below):

An important step before you download the Windows Vista is to check compatibility and other stuff. Please read this page before downloading:

This Beta 2 release is now available in three languages (English, German, and Japanese) and in 32-bit and 64-bit editions.

When you register for the Customer Preview Program you will receive the Beta 2 release plus Windows Vista Release Candidate 1 (RC1) — the next major pre-release of Windows Vista — when it is available later this year. The information on this page pertains to both Beta 2 and RC1.

The Customer Preview Program is available in a limited quantity both through download and DVD kit ordering. Once the allotted quantity has been reached the program will be closed and no new orders will be accepted.

There are two ways to get Windows Vista Beta 2:

- Order the DVD kit and have it shipped to your home or office.
- Download the ISO file to your PC (An ISO file is an exact representation of a CD or DVD, including the content and the logical format. Once you download the ISO file, you’ll need to burn it to a DVD before you can install the software.)

Again, this is the link you need:

My Carbonite backup status

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Jun-2006 11:26

In a previous post I talked about Carbonite (affiliate link), an on-line backup service. This is just an update on how things are going. The status report seems good:

That's right, almost all files/folders I've set for automatic backup are now on the server. Next thing I will try is a restore to see how fast it works.

It took about four days to upload these 5.7GB. My current connection at home is 10Mbps download/2Mbps upload, so this can give you the idea of traffic.

The service costs US$5/month for unlimited storage, so it should be a good off site strategy. Better than copying to an external drive and sending it to some friend's place. At least it is more readily available if I need to restore anything in an emergency.

Isabella at 8 weeks

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jun-2006 18:14

Isabella Maria, the first picture, 9 April:

And 8 weeks later, the first smile captured:

Astoria @ Wednesday

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jun-2006 17:55

Last night I missed the Geekzone Weekly Chat because I had to go out for something else (yes, we geeks do have a life!) and while out in the cold I took a couple of pictures of Astoria, before closing.

Some of you know I visit Astoria, Midland Park in Wellington, every Wednesday, from about 1pm. Since I work from home it's good to come to town and have time to meet some people face to face.

Both Microsoft and Vodafone are located on this building, and for being central is easy for other people to come and join me for lunch or coffee. Astoria has both Cafenet and Telecom NZ Hostpost Wi-Fi services, so I can bring my Tablet PC and work in between meetings.

They make one of the best coffee in town, perhaps not as good as Cafe L'affare, but I don't go there often because is out of the way for other people meeting me. Cafe L'Affare is very good for brunches on Saturday, but they are not open on Sunday. Next to Cafe L'Affare there's the Brooklyn Bakery, which is very child friendly (which is something we need now).

Back to Astoria, they also make one of the best steaks around, if you want them at lunch time.

If you are in town on any Wednesday you can either go there directly or simply contact me or post a comment to confirm I will be there.

Another super e-mail: Lycos

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Jun-2006 23:20

My first webmail account wasn't Hotmail. It was Mailcity. This webmail service was later bought by Lycos, one of the many early portals on the Internet. I opened the Mailcity account back in 1995.

For years this was the only webmail I used, and used it for mainly registration in on-line forums. Then I got Hotmail (because of MSN Messenger mainly) and finally GMAIL.

I was just reading my Mailcity e-mails and, surprise, Lycos/Mailcity are upgrading the accounts. The basic free service (ad sponsored) will jump from 5MB to 3GB (yes, from 5 megabytes to 3 gigabytes). And there is no more limits on the size of invidual e-mails.

That's not bad...

Adobe being Evil (TM), or no Save As PDF on Office 2007 anymore

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jun-2006 10:46

The Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format was supposed to be open. There are lots of companies around offering free PDF converters, or even the "Save As PDF" functionality.

But when Microsoft decided to implement the "Save As PDF" format on Microsoft Office 2007, then Adobe decided to make it a "closed" format, by asking Microsoft to remove this feature from the package!

Now, that's evil, isn't it?

If small companies use the format, it's ok. But when a larger (ok, the big guy) decides to use the same format then it's not ok. Obviously certain companies have anti-[anything bigger than you] zealots around, right?

Microsoft plans to offer this feature as a separate download.

Not nice of you Adobe. And we do have Adobe software installed in the Apple iMac here at home. What a shame.

Follow the FIFA World Cup 2006 with Microsoft Soccer Scoreboard

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jun-2006 10:16

This is such a cool application (and free): the Microsoft Soccer Scoreboard. You can follow your home team (or the one you support) around the FIFA World Cup 2006, and get all the results automatically. It runs on Windows XP PCs.

It will also list the schedule, previous results, and act as a RSS feed reader, with lots of RSS feeds to choose from with updates! The most important feature is that matches are listed in your own local timezone, not the German time :)

Microsoft Soccer Scoreboard FIFA World Cup 2006

The only problem I see is that it will not minimise to the system tray. But we can live with that, if it's to get all the updates on this World Cup...

Are HTC and VIA planning something related to Windows Mobile?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jun-2006 00:06

Oh, this sounds good: VIA and HTC have just sent out an invitation to an event, in Taiwan, showing the release of VIA On-demand. According to the invitation: 

You are invited to witness this fantastic moment first hand together with leadership from VIA, HTC, and many others in the industry.

It goes on to say:

VIA OnDemand is a digital all-in-one platform... serving digital content OnDemand - anytime, anywhere, and any device.

The event is scheduled for this 8 June, 2:30pm Taiwan time.

There's a VIA OnDemand website now, but with a holding page, inviting users to come back later. You can also find an interesting PDF file "Peer-to-peer Communication and Entertainment for Mobile PCs" which probably can clarify more on this. In this PDF we find out more about this "total media client" as they call it, with IM, video conferencing, VoIP, content distribution and more.

We all know how HTC made its name by manufacturing Windows Mobile devices (Pocket PC, Pocket PC Phone Edition and Smartphones), but I can't find any reference to HTC and VIA OnDemand . What are these guys up to now?

VIA OnDemand

Off-site backup: Carbonite

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Jun-2006 18:32

A few of you guys know how paranoid about backup I am... Everything at home is copied to a Maxtor OneTouch 1TB external drive, which stores full HDD images (at least the last four versions, plus incremental backups every hour) of my desktop and tablet PC (using Norton Ghost), plus copies of my Exchange Server, and of course SQL Backup and files from the Geekzone server, which are hosted somewhere in Auckland.

I also have a smaller 60GB external drive which I use to copy the latest version of My Documents from the desktop, so I can travel with a fresh copy of everything that is important.

I was always intringued by on-line backup services though, and (as you know) having a 10Mbps (down)/2Mbps (up) cable-modem connection at home this kind of service started making sense.

But this week I found an interesting offering: Carbonite (affiliate link). It's an interesting service because it runs on my computer in the background. I just have to mark which folders or individual files to backup by right-clicking each in the Windows File Explorer and selecting the Backup/Don't Backup option.

It's also interesting because it costs US$5/month for unlimited storage (although I found out that unlimited is really the "average", but I know some people using more than 60GB already).

The cool stuff is that it doesn't have to be manually initiated. Any file changed since the last backup is automatically copied minutes after the change is completed. Very efficient and hands-off.

Also this is trully a full off-site backup. Even if my Desktop HDD, the Maxtor 1TB or the small 60GB external drive die I still have access to the files on Carbonite (affiliate link).

You can try it free now, and they don't ask for a credit card or anything during the trial. If you don't like it, simply stop using the service - no problems.

Also, if you are interested in promoting the service, you can join their Carbonite affiliate program.

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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