My window to the world


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.



.Net Code Camp NZ 2006 details

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Apr-2006 20:59

The .Net Code Camp NZ 2006 is happening now (22-23 April) at the Whitireia Community Polytechnic Campus (Porirua).

I am participating this Sunday 23 April of a lunch session entitled From Spare Room to Board Room: Making great ideas into a successful business. Session description and speakers' profiles available here.  

In this discussion Chris Auld, Mauricio Freitas (that's me) & Rod Drury will discuss their successes and learning experiences with their businesses, their plans for the future and where they see IT and software development going. This is an essential session for any budding business leaders wanting to start or grow a business from their passion in software.





Telecom matches Vodafone offer on mobile broadband

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Apr-2006 12:15

Just to confirm that competition is something good for the consumer, an offer comes from Telecom New Zealand, basically matching a similar deal introduced by Vodafone New Zealand a few weeks ago.

In summary Telecom users can get up to 1GB (gigabyte) of cellular data (CDMA EV-DO) for NZ$49/month.

This compares with Vodafone's offering of 1GB on UMTS for the same NZ$49/month.

Other things are similar too: this is a limited time offer, with exipry date set to 9 July 2006 - in both cases.

What is different here? First speed: Telecom's CDMA EV-DO provides a great performance when compared with Vodafone's UMTS technology (and that was shown before). But really, if you are using this for single connections (such as mobile e-mail or FTP) this is not much benefit. But the speed advantage really shines when browsing websites, which is what most people will probably want to do.

After all 1GB/month is more than most New Zealanders use on their dial-up connections (yes, we are a nation of dial-up users), and for this price either option is a great alternative to services such as Woosh, which has been slow in extending coverage and providing better support (according to lots of discussions in our Geekzone Forums).

Another difference: while the Vodafone plan includes a free PC card for use on laptops, the Telecom plan requires users to purchase a card, which is an additional NZ$199. Both Vodafone and Telecom require a 24 month term contract.

While the Vodafone plan applies to new and existing customers, Telecom is offering the deal to new accounts only.

And Telecom is explicitly restricting the use of VoIP software over this connection, exaclty like Vodafone. Interesting, because until now Telecom did not put any restriction in place for this kind of usage.

Which plan is better for you? Really it comes to what are your requirements and since you are locked for 24 months with whatever operator you join make sure you look at this carefully.

If overseas travel is part of your job, then the Vodafone plan should be ok, but remember that data roaming is still charged at exhorbitant prices and not included in the NZ$49 deal. But if you want some good national coverage and perhaps better performance then the Telecom plan is for you.

Of course everything will change in September, when Vodafone New Zealand will launch a new high speed network, based on the HSDPA standard (more on Juha's blog).

The jury is out now.



Vodafone New Zealand: the year ahead

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Apr-2006 15:30

I have just left the Vodafone New Zealand building here in Auckland, where I had the opportunity to find out more about (some of) their plans for 2006.

First in the line was a HSDPA demo. Their current infrastructure supports 1.8Mbps, but they have plans to launch the service with support for 3.6Mbps. When? I was told September 2006 is the planned release date, but until then things can change.

The demo worked ok for streaming video clips, copying large files and such. It seems it adapts (or shape?) bandwidth based on use. Of course it was nice to see it working when you have a single user on a demo cell site. We still have to wait and see how real life load will affect performance on this environment.

The infrastructure is supplied and supported by Nokia. The main obstacle seems to be the availability of handsets and data cards supporting the new standard.

On this note I asked Phil Patel about fallback. Here in New Zealand UMTS users will fallback to GPRS when coverage is marginal or non-existant - but wouldn't be so nice to have EDGE instead of GPRS? Anyway, Patel tells me the initial plan is to have HSDPA covering the same UMTS footprint at least, and perhaps in the future migrate GPRS sites to UMTS for improved service. Nothing is certain though, except for the HSDPA plans.

It looks like the Linksys 3G Wi-Fi router we reviewed before will work just fine with HSDPA cards, so users will be able to have a faster wireless broadband alternative but just swapping cards (that is, if you already have the router). I have used the router for a month, and it impressed everyone: I was doing some consultancy work and the company didn't have wireless infrastructure, so I just brought my own network access point with me for that period.

Of note are the plans to release laptops with built-in cellular data support. The Lenovo T60 was on show, but Vodafone has plans to release at least other brands such as Acer and HP. Not confirmed yet, but under works are deals with Dell, Fujitsu and Toshiba. we can expect to see the first laptops coming out in the next two months or.

In terms of handsets Vodafone is on a roll. They plan to have up to 10 different Windows Mobile devices by the end of this year. This includes new entrants in the New Zealand market, such as Asus and Benq. I was told they are very keen on the Motorola Q as well, because it is such an appealing form factor, in direct competition with BlackBerry handhelds.

Talking about BlackBerry, I was shown the latest BlackBerry 8700 and I have to agree, it is very fast and it does have nice screen. But so is the Nokia N61. The BlackBerry 8700 is one of the new models based on the Intel xScale processors.

Also talked about was the integration of PBX systems and mobile services, including mobile desk phones. They look exactly like the kind of phone you would expect to find in any office, but without wires. Of course this is a transitional form factor, because the whole ide is to have a single device, and in this case the mobile phone form factor is better suited for the job. PBX functionality is provided at network level.

I was disapointed to find out that unlike Vodafone UK, Vodafone New Zealand is not planning to directly provide a push e-mail service based on Microsoft Exchange and Windows Mobile 5.0. Instead, clients who do not have a Microsoft Exchange server will be referred to a parner for a hosted solution. One of the partners is Auckland-based ICONZ for example.

On fixed and mobile convergence, the plan of having mobile phones receiving calls as local numbers (similar to what Vodagone Germany is doing) is still under work, pending some government regulations. As far as they are concerned they would launch this service pretty soon, but alas this will take sometime. The idea is to have a Vodafone number that would be treated as a local phone number when within a certain area (cell site coverage). Of course the main opposition to this idea comes from Telecom New Zealand.

I also asked about live TV. With the recent announcement of live streaming of Prime News it would be interesting to see if any plans of a full live TV channel is in the plans. Of course I asked about satellite broadcast, since streaming over a packet network is not the most effective way. According to Patel this is something that could be looked at, but nothing in the near future - or at least this year.

Overall Vodafone New Zealand showed an interesting and consistent approach to a variety of mobile services, but the most concrete action with most impact is certainly the new 1GB traffic plan for $49/month. For almost everything else we will have to wait a few months and see.



Windows Mobile: mobile e-mail for the masses:

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Apr-2006 11:02

Fellow MVP Jaap van Ekris has started a Blog/Wiki/Forums site, called Modern Nomads. One of the first articles there is about mobile e-mail (Mobile e-mal in the real world). Since not everyone around is running their own Microsoft Exchange Server, Jaap describes the pros and cons of using IMAP-based services on a Pocket PC.

The native and best solution for Windows Mobile e-mail and push e-mail is still a Microsoft Exchange account. But not every company can afford to run their own e-mail infrastructure (both in terms of software costs, administration, hardware infrastructure), but IMAP and POP3 protocols are implemented on mobile devices, and it's interesting to read about someone's experiences in real life.


Our company mail-systems are based on IMAP: our IT department, like many IT departments, knows that allowing POP3 introduces big risks in losing mail. This can be either in one of the many synchronizations to clients or by losing the device which stores the mail alltogether. Therefore we have to use regular IMAP-functionality of the Windows Mobile mail client: Pocket Outlook. According to the specifications of Windows Mobile, it should work. I am using this combination for a year now, so i was pretty confident that it would be a solution without any problems. I am a very technocratic user of e-mail: all mail that is not new should not be on the server. How little did I know about the totally different approaches of my colleagues for reading e-mail and the problems they cause in use on a mobile device...


Microsofts implementation of the IMAP protocol isn't one of the best, the general impression is that the POP implementation has had a lot more attention. My colleague found out the hard way. He started downloading the messages in his inbox, but the downloading did not complete. It simply stopped halfway. Upon closer investigation, we discovered something: the client tried to download his entire inbox, despite the setting to limit the view only to the mails recieved in the last three days. Pocket Outlook downloaded them anyway. Downloading his entire mailbox became problematic, since his mailbox contained more than 6000 messages and the mobile device simply could not deal with the volume of the mailbox: it took about two hours before the device ran out of the memory and hung itself. So handling one big inbox through IMAP is not really an option, even with limiting the view severly.

The article goes on to discuss strategies on synchronisation and e-mail management.

Some companies offer hosted Exchange accounts, including push e-mail options. One of these companies is 4Smartphone.net (affiliate link). The synchronisation of a Windows Mobile device with an Exchange server is flawless and performance is greatly improved with Windows Mobile 5.0 AKU2 and Microsoft Exchange 2003 SP2.



Overcoming limits with technology: Tablet PC review

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Apr-2006 21:47

Showing that technology is created to help us overcome our limits, David Wallace has posted a Tablet PC review. David used the Sahara Pen Slate to write the Tablet PC - a lifekludger view post.

David is an IT Coordinator, but he was actually a mechanic before being involved in a car accident that left him with a disability (C4 quadriplegic). His blog tells us about solving problems and getting the most out of life.

And that's why this Tablet PC review is something everyone interested in technology should read.

Via the UberTablet blog.



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

Trackers - How technology is h...
Geekzone is a ESET NetGuide We...
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...

New posts on Geekzone