My window to the world


Cheers to Tim Haines

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Apr-2006 11:09

Last month (April 2006), Tim Haines moved to Wellington. He is heavily involved in the .Net community in New Zealand, and we had exchanged some e-mails before.

After his move here we met for lunch one day, with other bloggers and .Net developers and finally got to meet each other in person. We might even make this a monthly thing to do in the Capital (I will probably start organising this, and if you want to join us drop a comment below).

We met in another opportunity, one Wednesday just before a .Net User Group meeting. As you probably know, every Wednesday I come to Cafe Astoria and work from there, meeting people, discussing things with Darryl, Peter Torr Smith, Antonios and sometimes Vodafone folks (Microsoft and Vodafone are located on the building above Cafe Astoria). Don't feel bad Telecom, I sometimes walk to your side of town too, your guys know it.

The good news is that Tim Haines is now a Microsoft MVP (ASP .Net) awardee. Congratulations Tim, and thanks for mentioning us on your blog.

By the way, I will probably slow down the Wednesday things in town for the next two or three weeks. Our first baby is due this Tuesday (11 April), so I will be a bit busy on the first two weeks. Then we are shiftting homes, and I will be busy on the other week. I will probably be back to the normal programme late May.





Working with technology: Bill Gates

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Apr-2006 09:19

There's an interesting article on Fortune magazine (CNN Money) this week, written by Bill Gates, explaining how is his work routine.

What technologies does he use? E-mail. I already knew e-mail is the tool of choice for a lot of Microsofties, and this article is just a confirmation.
The screen on the left has my list of e-mails. On the center screen is usually the specific e-mail I'm reading and responding to. And my browser is on the right-hand screen. This setup gives me the ability to glance and see what new has come in while I'm working on something, and to bring up a link that's related to an e-mail and look at it while the e-mail is still in front of me.

At Microsoft, e-mail is the medium of choice, more than phone calls, documents, blogs, bulletin boards, or even meetings (voicemails and faxes are actually integrated into our e-mail in-boxes).

I get about 100 e-mails a day. We apply filtering to keep it to that level—e-mail comes straight to me from anyone I've ever corresponded with, anyone from Microsoft, Intel, HP, and all the other partner companies, and anyone I know. And I always see a write-up from my assistant of any other e-mail, from companies that aren't on my permission list or individuals I don't know. That way I know what people are praising us for, what they are complaining about, and what they are asking.

We're at the point now where the challenge isn't how to communicate effectively with e-mail, it's ensuring that you spend your time on the e-mail that matters most. I use tools like "in-box rules" and search folders to mark and group messages based on their content and importance.


I also read somewhere today (sorry, missed the link, and it's now gone) that the most used collaboration tool is... e-mail. And collaboration, Bill Gates has to say:
Staying focused is one issue; that's the problem of information overload. The other problem is information underload. Being flooded with information doesn't mean we have the right information or that we're in touch with the right people.

And last, but not least, a very important piece of the whole technology-at-work puzzle:
Another digital tool that has had a big effect on my productivity is desktop search. It has transformed the way I access information on my PC, on servers, and on the Internet. With larger hard drives and increasing bandwidth, I now have gigabytes of information on my PC and servers in the form of e-mails, documents, media files, contact databases, and so on.


Paper is no longer a big part of my day. I get 90% of my news online, and when I go to a meeting and want to jot things down, I bring my Tablet PC. It's fully synchronized with my office machine so I have all the files I need. It also has a note-taking piece of software called OneNote, so all my notes are in digital form.



Microsoft MVP (Mobile Devices) for another year

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Apr-2006 07:17

I have just received the e-mail with the confirmation of my Microsoft MVP Award (Mobile Devices).
Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) are recognized, credible, and accessible individuals with expertise in one or more Microsoft products who actively participate in online and offline communities to share their knowledge and expertise with other Microsoft customers.
 
Customers want an enriched pool of knowledge and real-life experience to tap for advice and feedback. MVPs are helping to satisfy this need by independently enabling customers in both online and offline technical communities. Customer feedback is vital to product development and R&D. The MVPs represent an important part of this feedback loop by providing another link for Microsoft to listen to the customer.

The Most Valuable Professional Program is the way that Microsoft formally acknowledges the accomplishments of these individuals for their contributions to community. It is focused on fostering a vibrant global community where Microsoft and customers learn about each other through valued ongoing relationships.

The MVP Program, in existence for over eleven years, is represented by over 2,600 MVPs in 81 countries."
This is an annual award, with our activities with communities being evaluated every 12 months. I have received this in the 2004-2005, 2005-2006 periods, and again for 2006-2007. Very cool!

There are some benefits in the program, but a lot of the things are covered by a NDA. One of the most important benefits (besides the access to a great group of other MVPs, product developers, product managers) is the MVP Summit, where all Microsoft MVPs are invited to a conference in Seattle.

In my previous MVP Summit (October 2005) we had a keynote from Steve Balmer's. We have the confirmation that Bill Gates will be keynote speaker for the next MVP Summit (March 2007). During the last MVP Summit we had about 2000 MVPs from all over the world meeting in Seattle (actually a bit of a logistics nightmare), with some program wide sessions, and sessions specifically related to the product group we have the award.

If you are in Wellington, look for the information on how to join the local Windows Mobile User Group. Or check through Geekzone for news about our meetings.



Interested in participating on a quick test for Telecom New Zealand?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Apr-2006 09:36

I've received an e-mail from Telecom New Zealand, asking for people interested in participating on a usability test of some new parts of the Telecom website.

The test would consist of spending no more than 1 hour going through areas on the mobile internet site that are pre-chosen by 'observers' and then filling in a questionnaire at the end.

This will be held in Welllington on Wednesday 5 April 2006 and has sessions running on the hour from 10am until 4pm. A "thank you" for your help will be a NZ$30 credit on a Telecom mobile or landline of choice.
 
If anyone here are interested in participating, then please post a comment here and I will e-mail you the the telephone number for contact and confirmation.



Some thoughts on Geekzone Blogs and pre-announcing the Geekzone Event 2006

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Apr-2006 18:13

Since the introduction of our Geekzone Blog feature we had some interesting posts from our users. We have a range of people writing their personal weblogs, with their interests in the foreground, most of them tech-related topics.

We can see some people writing about the current state of IT in New Zealand, mobility and new concepts, CDMA topics, electronics stuff, gadget related posts, general IT information, consumer electronics, and general tech stuff.

We found out early on that Google loves us (and we hope to keep this way), and lots of the personal posts in the Geekzone Blogs ended up very quickly in Google News and in the main Google Index.

Seeing this happening is great, because it exposes people's opinions to a larger audience, bringing more interaction with new people, enhancing the conversation.

Of course this brings some more responsibilities. For example making the posts credible, showing experience, common sense, correctness in the language. This is all to make sure each everyone here shows the best face we have to the world (and I don't mean only the picture in the blog heading).

For example, during the whole Optus B1 Satellite problem impacting on Sky TV broadcasting in New Zealand I found one source of information being actively read: Geekzone Blogs. I am pretty sure we were the first on-line publication to report a problem, after being alerted by some users in the forums, with have early updates, and more commentary during the whole thing (in the Geekzone Blogs and forums).

I am pretty sure some of our Geekzone Blogs saw a cool increase in the page view numbers during a couple of days, thanks to all links from other sites, such as Google, Digg and more. And I am pretty sure this will give everyone here some boost to keep writing about their passion.

For the future, I am thinking of promoting an event, a bit different from our first Geekzone Dinner in Wellington, with a couple of sessions on mobile devices, community, blogging and other tech topics. Stay tunned for more information later this year. For now, save the month: October Wink!



What's the White House Staff looking for on Google?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Apr-2006 11:29

One of the Google Circles used as example on the new Google Circle service I wrote about before is the White House IP range.

It looks like the White House Staff is looking for some WMD on Craigslist?

While on that page it is worth looking at other circles. Search for "Apple" and you'll see they are looking for information on "Intel", "anti-trust law music industry", and "cheap cell phone components"... Yeah, right.

Or of course it could just be an April Fools' joke... Check the copyright notice at the bottom of the page (it's not Google) and check the FAQ...


Google Circle White House



Google Circles: finding what others are searching

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Apr-2006 11:23

Google has introduced an interesting new feature, called Google Circles. The FAQ says:
[Google Circles] lets you explore the interests of groups of people around the world, in your hometown, at your workplace, and at your alma mater. For example, check out the Google Circles for Brookline, MA, whitehouse.gov, and Apple Computer.

Google Circles works by aggregating information from a variety of sources. For example, we record the Internet Protocol (IP) address for every search performed on our servers. While the IP address does not uniquely identify your location, there is a strong relationship between address and a geographic region. From this relationship, trends can be inferred. Similarly, your IP address often identifies you as being affiliated with a particular Internet domain (e.g., rcn.com). This information allows us to provide highly specialized clusters of search behavior which are interesting and useful.

This is a screenshot: Apparently there are only limited "circles" available because I couldn't find anything from "Wellington" or "New Zealand" yet.

Of course it could just be another April Fools joke: check the copyright notice at the bottom of the page (it's not Google) and check the explanation...





What is location these days? Or e-mail, reviews rant

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Apr-2006 11:21

I really try to understand the reasoning behind some companies not replying to e-mails (if you read my rants before you already know I can't)...

Reading comments posted on Tony Hughes's Geekzone Blog, I see some people believe companies do not have to reply to e-mails. For example, this is Bert's opinion on the comments:
I too hate it when companies don't reply to e-mails, but on the other hand: why should they?
I'm listed in the phonebook. Does that mean that everybody should call me?

As an owner of a company I get many letters from people who seek a job. Although I think it's great they actively trying to get a job, I don't have the time to answer those letters. Should I, just because I publish my address?

I also publish my e-mail address so potentional customers can reach me. The number of e-mails I get that are not of interest for me is minimal, so I can answer those too. But the moment answering those e-mails takes to much time, I will probably only answer a selection too.


Ok, this is Bert's take on this case, but in my view companies that are "selling" their product should have the dignity of at least reply to valid inquiries (of course excluding the clearly stupid questions), mainly if these are directed to the media relations department, through their "Contact Us" page.

Come on, why they would call it a "Contact Us" page, and post the link in the media relations page if they have no intention of replying?

Example of companies who have a contact link in the PR page and never replied: the Orange UK; ZVUE Handheld; Slingmedia (ok, this one replied, but only after I found a VP's e-mail address on his personal blog).

Example of local (Australia, NZ) people that even after receiving an e-mail from the USA office (which I received a copy of) asking them to help us with reviews never came back: d-link, frogpad.

So, really, do they deserve to appear in any page if they can't be bothered replying to e-mails?

Some of the companies even replied to me saying "Sorry, you are based in New Zealand and we don't do business there".

Hello! These are the days when where I am located has no influence on a trusted relationship created with the readers: our readers are everywhere. 50% of people reading Geekzone are based in the USA, 35% in New Zealand. Bummer, if a .co.nz TLD makes a difference. I could just as well have a .COM TLD and still be based whatever I wanted to be, even enjoying a year-long stay in some Pacific Island (guess what? New Zealand is a Pacific Island).

On the other hand some companies contact us for reviews. But as soon as they find out they have to actually send a product, every communication goes silent. What's that? Do these companies think we will publish a review of their products based on the PDF catalogue and a couple of pictures, without actually using their products? Oh my, they are probably used to some low-life publications then...

I still think some companies don't get it.




Geekzone users on the ball with Sky TV

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Mar-2006 20:47

You gotta love the Geekzone community. Users reported in our forums about the Sky TV outage across New Zealand, with some updated reports:

http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?ForumId=48&TopicId=7237

Very good folks, great job finding these things...

Update: a Geekzone Blog is also coming, courtesy of cokemaster: http://www.geekzone.co.nz/cokemaster/244

Update II: a more complete report is now available: http://www.geekzone.co.nz/content.asp?contentid=6102



UMPC ready for ordering in Australia/New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Mar-2006 12:20

Just received an e-mail from a friend who has already ordered his UMPC from Tegatech, based in Australia. The devices are the eo UMPC v7110 256/30 and eo UMPC v7110 512/40 with options of Black or White. The main difference seems to be the memory (256MB x 512MB) and hard drive (30GB x 40GB).



The question now is: shall I buy now, or later?

By the way, Darryl is going to be one of the first 300 people in the world to receive their UMPC!




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:

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