My window to the world

Is Vodafone PLC up for grabs now?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Apr-2006 08:17

Telefonica of Spain is a giant. Not many people heard of them before, but they are a giant corporation. They have operations in Europe and South America. They put a bid and successfully bought O2. And now they could have Vodafone on their target.

According to an article published on (found through Engadget):
Documents circulating the City suggest that a consortium including US firm Verizon, Telefonica of Spain and private equity firm Blackstone hope to find funding for a 160p-a-share offer. That would value Vodafone at an eye-watering £96bn. JP Morgan Cazenove is thought to be masterminding the plan.

Sources say the bid, if successful, would lead to a complicated break-up. Verizon, with which Vodafone has a joint venture in America, would take control of the US and UK assets.

Telefonica, which paid £18bn for mobile firm O2 in November, is said to be interested in Vodafone's remaining European activities, including Italy and Germany.

Blackstone and other private equity firm would carve up the rest, including stakes in South Africa and China.

Almost 100 billion UK Pounds! That's NZ$300 billion, or US$167 billion.

Verizon Wireless, a CDMA operator in the USA, might be really interested in that. Apparently they have tried a few times in the recent past to buy Vodafone's participation on their American operations, and having a UK carrier would be an interesting side effect, except that it uses a completely different technlogy and this could have problems in adapting services, etc.

The whole thing leaves in the air what would happen with non-European operations. Vodafone Japan was sold to the SoftBank, leaving China, Australia and New Zealand for the grabs. I read somewhere that Vodafone could just close Vodafone Australia because it's not a leader in that market (not even close, really, with Telstra and Optus really leading the charge), but Vodafone New Zealand is another matter, since the company here shares the market with Telecom New Zealand almost on a 50/50 split.

Interesting times ahead, when the largest mobile operator in the world could be made into pieces. Is that what CEO Sarin has been working on all this time?

Welcome Isabella Maria

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Apr-2006 07:51

On a very personal note, and as posted on the Geekzone forums (It is a girl!), our baby Isabella Maria was born this Sunday 9 April, early at 7:31am.

She arrived a couple of days earlier (great girl, already beating the weekday rush hours!), and I am pretty sure she will love coming to the Wednesday coffee talks at Astoria when she's a bit older (and I mean probably just a couple of months old).

She was 3.72Kg (8.3 pounds) and was great to see her, after all these months of scans and bet on hair colour (dark like the father, or blonde like mum).

All is going well, and I imagine she will someday post on Geekzone Cool.

It's been a long journey from the TRS-80 15MB HDD

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Apr-2006 15:23

While I wait for my new Maxtor OneTouch III Turbo Edition (1TB external HDD, Firewire 400/USB2.0, 16MB cache, RAID 0/1) to format, I decided to post this picture of an external 15MB HDD for TRS-80. The price back then was almost 3x the price I paid for my new external drive. Yes this is a 15MB costing 3x the price of a 1TB drive with Firewire 400/USB 2.0 interface.

You can find some interesting information and links to TRS-80 websites from this (unofficial) TRS-80 Homepage.

The first computer I used was a TRS-80 model III. Good memories. After that I moved on to a CP/M and MP/M system, and mainframes (Burroughs, Unisys) for a while. It is incredible what you can do with mobile devices today, compared with those old personal computers. Wonderful times we live now!

Microsoft Windows Media HD Videos giveaway

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Apr-2006 14:42

I have a couple of DVDs to giveaway here. These are original IMAX movies on DVD format. The really neat stuff is that each come with two discs: standard DVD (with DTS surround, Region 1) and a Microsoft Windows Media High Definition Video version.

These are the movies:

Coral Reef Adventure
To The Limit

If you don't know about Windows Media High Definition Video, then you should really see these videos. For the first time I watched a movie on a desktop PC and was surprised with the quality. It's not the same as having a DVD disc inserted and played with Windows Media (or any other player). The movies are crisp, smooth, high definition stuff (720p and 1080p videos).

I watched those movies on a P4 HT machine with 2GB RAM and LCD. It was much better than my widescreen 32" TV - no kidding.

I will give those two movies away. Just post a comment here and on 15 April I will draw one each between any unique comments here.

(Yes, you can be anywhere in the world, I will post these)

Temporarily solving the disk space problem at home

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Apr-2006 17:11

Here at home I run quite a network: a Windows XP desktop, a Windows XP desktop running Virtual Server 2005 R2, a Windows Server 2003 as a guest OS on that Virtual Server instance, a Tablet PC, an iMac and a few Pocket PC.

We do have two external firewire HDD (250GB and 60GB). But this disk space is not enough for backups!

You see, I tend to do a full image of the Windows XP running Virtual Server, using Norton Ghost. But I wanted to do a full image of the guest OS as well, and for this I got a review (time bombed though) copy of Symantec LiveState Recovery Advanced Server.

I also have a backup routine on my desktop every night copying My Documents and other important folders to the large external HDD.

But it's not only copying: these routines run every night and keep the last 4 copies on disk, so if I need to recover anything I have at least the last four versions of any file here.

My wife's iMac has a 40GB HDD and we keep two copies of her documents, which uses about 20GB.

We add to this a daily FTP transfer from the whole database and files from the Geekzone server down here (hey, there's a reason why I use TelstraClear's 10Mbps Cable-Modem connection at home) which is about 800MB, keeping the last week plus a monthly copy.

And you can see why I need more disk space here...

So, today I bought a Maxtor Onetouch III G31W010 (1TB, 7200rpm, 16384KB cache, external, USB 2, Firewire 400/800), to plug into my Windows Server. We will use this as our main backup storage.

I thought of a NAS solution, perhaps using a Netgear WGT634U router with built-in USB adapter for storage, but why purchase a router if our server here is perfectly capable of doing this? Also, it would be limited by the network speed, while at least on the server side of the things backup would be at Firewire speeds.

A friend tried to push me to purchase a RAID solution though, but I am not ready to spend that much money - yet.

Next thing is wait a month or so to have enough to purchase a full copy of that Symantec LiveState Recovery Advanced Server software. It looks and acts exactly like Norton Ghost, but costs 15 times more. The difference is that is runs on Windows Server, supports Volume Shadow Copy, keeps tabs on Microsoft SQL and Exchange Server stores (which I use here) and other tricks.

It really surprises me how companies price these "server" software. I mean, it's ok to have a price for enterprise, but some small and medium sized companies also run more robust configurations, for development and testing purposes. Alas, the price is the same.

Let's find out where Vodafone New Zealand is heading

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Apr-2006 16:43

I have confirmed a chat session with Vodafone New Zealand's Director for Business Markets, Phil Patel.

It will be exciting to find out where Vodafone NZ is heading now that the financial year is closed. We will talk about the directions for the year, some embedded solutions and apparently some Windows Mobile 5.0 applications (I wonder if this is some Direct Push solution with bundled data traffic?)

I will be flying to Auckland 20 April for this meeting and will report later.

Step-by-step Direct Push Deployment for Windows Mobile and Exchange Server 2003

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Apr-2006 08:57

Now your organisation is running Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and after much study the IT Gods agreed that deploying Windows Mobile devices makes sense because a push e-mail solution is available without the need of third-party platforms.

Cool. But where do you start then?

A great place to start is by visiting the "Step-by-Step Guide to Deploying Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 SP2 Mobile Messaging with Windows Mobile 5.0-based Devices", downloading the document and start planning from there.
This document is designed primarily for Information Technology (IT) professionals who are responsible for planning and deploying mobile messaging systems that use Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 with Service Pack 2 (SP2) and Microsoft Windows Mobile-based devices that have the Messaging and Security Feature Pack.

This document is divided into two main sections that describe the following:

• The essential elements of a mobile messaging system, including requirements; a summary of deployment procedures; an overview of the features of the Messaging and Security Feature Pack; and best practices for networking, security, and device management.
• The guidelines and resources for the deployment of a mobile messaging system, including updating Exchange Server 2003 SP2, setting up Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync for mobile access, creating a protected communications environment, and procedures for setting up and managing mobile devices.

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.

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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