My window to the world

Do you have a Windows Media Center PC at home?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-May-2006 22:24

If you have a Windows Media Center PC at home, please leave a comment here... I might have something for you...

One entry only please. I will conduct a draw Monday (8 May) and contact the winner via e-mail...

Geekzone moving house

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-May-2006 21:20

I have been pretty quiet in the Geekzone front in the last three days. We have just moved houses amd I have not had the chance to work during this time. Moving houses and having a two week old baby is not easy!

I really have to say thanks to a few friends who showed up (or offered help). First of all Hadley, who came from Taupo with his wife Heather, to help us. She was great, helping clean the new house, and driving back by herself on Sunday evening. Hadley stayed here until Monday evening, helping coordinate the movers in the old house, assembling desks, bed, moving things, arranging food when me and my wife were too tired to do something, then flying back home.

Also helping us we had Peter and Letizia, who spent Saturday and Sunday packing for us. And Sue Mitchell who showed up on Sunday and worked through the kitchen, packing glasses, plates, etc.

Darryl offered to help, but we had enough people around.

Big thanks to all! Next is waiting for TelstraClear to show up, connect the cable modem and my e-mail server, desktop, wireless network and other infrastrucutre will be available, so I can come back in full force.

Geekzone attracts gripes and smug postings?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-May-2006 21:01

An article on Dominion Post/Infotech today says that
Online forums such as regularly attract gripes and smug postings about customers' findings.

Taken out of context this quote is not a good thing for Geekzone, but you have to read the whole article:
According to the OECD, retail broadband services are widely available and relatively cheap in New Zealand compared to most other developed countries.

However, Telecom has been dogged by accusations that it has under-invested in capacity and that its quality of service falls short.

For more on this, check this thread where users discuss the 3.Mbps ADSL upgrade that doesn't seem to offer 3.5Mbps at all, and the summary of findings on Tony's blog.

Also, check the discussion on Xtra's plans to install monitoring software on user's computers (according to Stuff):
Telecom doesn't plan to give customers access to this data.

How bad is that?

You see why we attract "gripes and smug posting about customers' findings"? Simply because people see Geekzone as the place to talk to other users, exchange information and find what's really going on.

Fewer usenet servers in the world: Xtra to phase out NNTP server

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Apr-2006 08:39

I was reading the nz.comp newsgroup and found out that Xtra (New Zealand's largest ISP, owned by Telecom New Zealand) is planning on phasing out its usenet server (NNTP).

I know ICONZ doesn't have one, and now Xtra. I use but I wonder how many other ISPs don't provide this service.
Apparently Xtra posted a message in all groups on their server, without replication to outside:
For some time Xtra has hosted a complimentary Usenet server.

However, the number of people using this service has steadily declined and there are now only a few hundred regular users.

Because of this decline in popularity, we have decided that, from May 3, we will no longer provide the newsgroup service.

If you'd like to continue using newsgroups, there are other services available such as, or free services such as MSN Forums and Google Groups.

We like to apologise to the small number of regular users who will be affected by this change.

I am waiting for confirmation from someone inside Telecom New Zealand, but if true this is appaling.

Xtra is already blocking POP3 access from outside its network, affecting people travelling and forcing them to use the webmail page or pay for a "secure" access. The ISP is also blocking SMTP servers, forcing people on their network to use their SMTP server, not allowing any other server inside their perimeter - so no home user running their own mailserver.

If this is true, what part of ISP (Internet Service Provider) are they missing?

ActiveWords for Windows Mobile is coming

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Apr-2006 12:11

I use ActiveWords on my Tablet PC and it's a great time saver. It's a mix of handwriting recognition, gestures, shortcuts and macros. You can invoke programs, replace text, automate tasks, etc. Really cool stuff.

The man behind this program is Buzz Bruggeman. I met Buzz in a Microsoft sponsored Windows Vista and session, during the CES 2006. I had exchanged a few e-mails with him before, but should really had spent more time. Now that he is in Seattle, perhaps during the next MVP Summit when I am there again?

A short definition of Buzz Bruggeman? He's a connector. Just read this interview, published on Naked Conversations, a book by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.
In the Blogosphere, the Connection King is Buzz Bruggeman, and no one who has met him has ever wondered why he’s called ‘Buzz.’ He works rooms at tech conferences, keeps an ongoing email dialog with scores of people, each of them influential in their own way, totes a bag filled with an array of the latest beta devices and software for distribution to friends and industry insiders. In the case of this book, he connected Microsoft’s Andy Ruff who thought of it and its two authors. He's likely to have been that “informed source” in a recent tech-related article. In short, when you really want to know what’s going on, what’s hot and what’s not in the PC industry, Bruggeman is the go-to guy.

Why am I posting about ActiveWords and Buzz Bruggeman? Because he has just posted on his blog that a version of ActiveWords for Windows Mobile Smartphone is being planned.  And the folks at Omega One are probably going to participate in this project:
The other day I met up with Andy Haslam of Omega One. I was introduce to Andy as a guy who we might team up with to build ActiveWords for Windows Mobile 5 smart phones. We had a great time talking, I learned a lot about the Windows Mobile 5 market, and as in all things, good stuff begins with a conversation.

Good stuff: more smarts on a smart device is what we need!

Xbox 360 Water Balloon Challenge

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Apr-2006 14:43

I do like PC games (mainly Microsoft's Age of Empires II and III, Rise of Nations, Diablo II LoD, CounterStrike and Day of Defeat), but I am not a big console game fan.

However, we have to concede, these guys had lots of fun:

This was the Xbox 360 Water Balloon Challenge, which took place at Sydney's Coogee Beach (Australia) last weekend.
According to the information on this record attempt, 2,951 gamers were involved, with more than 55,000 water balloons being thrown in an fun-fight breaking the previous record set by Spain in 2005, where 2,677 people threw 50,855 balloons).

The event raised more than $15,000 for the Coogee Surf Lifesaving Club.

Apparently there were enthusiast gamers from all over the world. And look at that weather...

Windows Genuine Advantage program expands...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Apr-2006 09:23

Are you using a pirate copy of Microsoft Windows XP, or even unknowingly running a copy that some O&M redistributed without authorisation?

No need to worry, Microsoft will let you know. The company is now pushing an update that will notify users of such copies with nag screens, asking to "legalise" their copies.

I just came to my desktop this morning to find this update waiting to be applied:

According to an article on The Star Online, this update will be deployed to Microsoft Windows users in the United States, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia. The article also says
The patch takes effect if a PC user has opted to automatically update Windows the moment he goes online. It will also take effect should a PC user manually download the latest Windows updates.

If the OS is an unauthorised copy, a pop-up dialogue box will appear on the Windows login screen, informing the user that his copy of the OS is counterfeit and that he should get a genuine copy.

A notification stating “This copy of Windows is not genuine. You may be a victim of software counterfeiting.” is also permanently “tattooed” to the bottom righthand corner of the same screen.

Another pop-up message which states that “You may be a victim of software counterfeiting. This copy of Windows is not genuine. Click this balloon to resolve now.” will appear at random times whenever the computer is in use.
What's wrong here? First the market. Why not target the Chinese, Singaporean, Thai and South American markets where the piracy is more evident than in these four countries?

Also, as noted in the Geekzone Forums, too little and too late: Windows XP is almost at the end of its life cycle (although support shall be provided way beyond the Windows Vista release date of course).

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 released

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Apr-2006 16:54

If you are running the Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview then it is time to update to a newer version of Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 with some updates and fixes.

The following versions are available now:
- Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 for Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2)
- Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 for Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition
- Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 for Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 SP1
- Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 for Windows Server 2003 ia64 Edition (Windows Server 2003 for Itanium-based systems)

If you are a developer and not running this yet, I suggest you donwload and install this beta on a test machine to make sure your web-based application runs ok with this new browser.

Also, if your organisation runs Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, then make sure you download this update:
In the upcoming Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 2 release, the Dynamic HTML Editing ActiveX control is being removed from the Internet Explorer browser. As a result, there is functionality missing that Microsoft Exchange Outlook Web Access relies on. This update replaces that deprecated functionality on the Microsoft Exchange servers so that Microsoft Exchange Outlook Web Access continues to function smoothly.

Telstra wants a single Australia-New Zealand telecommunications enviroment

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Apr-2006 10:28

Of course Telstra wants a single Australia-New Zealand telecommunications environment. The infrastructure here is already deployed, they can come and lobby for LLU and then start providing services without spending anything in infrastructure.

The telco has told a parliamentary inquiry into the Australia and New Zealand Closer Economic Relations (CER) trade agreement there were many benefits in a single market.

Telstra regulatory affairs manager Dr Tony Warren said Australian and New Zealand travellers could save more than $30 million a year in international mobile roaming charges.

Mobile charges could fall from an international roaming rate of up to $2.80 per minute to domestic rates - which vary from 36 cents a minute to $1 a minute depending on the plan.

"You could call Coogee or Bondi by mobile like they were suburbs of Auckland," Dr Warren said in a statement.

Other benefits included savings on the rollout of new technology and networks, a single contract and bill for trans-Tasman businesses, cuts in red tape and a trans-Tasman mobile market with operators offering subscribers seamless service on both sides of the Tasman.

Yeah, right. Like all New Zealanders have a reason to call Bondi...

What worries me is that they might as well pull this one off - just check Air New Zealand and QANTAS. They couldn't merge, but they managed to get to the code share point. Where to from here?

Troubleshooting Direct Push (Windows Mobile and Microsoft Exchange Server)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Apr-2006 10:23

If you are an IT administrator you could probably be facing an interesting task at the moment: deploying Microsoft Exchange Server SP2 and making the new Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP) work with Windows Mobile devices, including security and Direct Push e-mail to Pocket PC Phone Edition and Smartphones.

We have quite a collection of articles about this topic here on Geekzone, including configuration tips for Windows Mobile AUTD (the original version deployed with Windows Mobile 2003), an overview of Windows Mobile MSFP, and an end-user view of Windows Mobile Direct Push and other features introduced with AKU2.

If you want more detailed troubleshooting steps for Windows Mobile MSFP, I suggest you check this blog entry Direct push is just a heartbeat away.

Exchange 2003 introduced the Always Up To Date notification feature (AUTD) that kept devices up to date by sending SMS triggers to the device. The triggers were sent from the enterprise as SMTP messages to the SMTP front end at the mobile operator. They were then sent through the SMS gateway as SMS messages to the device. This approach had some limitations since not all mobile operators did the SMTP to SMS conversion. Even when they did, there was latency involved with SMS messages and there were end-to-end reliability issues. Also some mobile operators charged for each incoming SMS message so that added an extra dimension to the cost of staying up to date. To alleviate these issues, Exchange 2003 SP2 introduced Direct Push.

Direct Push is a client initiated HTTP connection to the server where the device opens a connection to the Exchange Server and keeps it alive for a duration known as the heartbeat interval.  Basically the client sets up the connection, chooses the appropriate heartbeat interval and tears down and reestablishes the connection if and when necessary. The server sends notifications about new items over this connection and the client synchronizes to get the new items.

The blog post contains useful information about server configuration, device configuration, log analysis and more. Worth a read if you are an IT administrator planning or running a Microsoft Exchange Server installation.

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 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 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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