My window to the world


IBM Highbrook Datacentre walkthru video

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Dec-2010 18:18

Today I got a DVD by mail (with a puzzle that could be solved by visiting this site)... It's about IBM's new datacentre, opening 3rd March 2011. This will be a 1500 sq m column-free raised floor datacentre, one of the largest (if not the largest) commercially available datacentre in New Zealand.

A $80 million investment, the IBM Highbrook Datacentre is the latest addition to IBM's network of green datacentres around the world.

So here is the video on that DVD:


PS: Bella watched it with me. Her comments were "This is a slow movie. Can we watch Hi-5 instead?". She's four.



Crowdsourcing ISP/telco fault reporting

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Dec-2010 08:30

After talking to a couple of people we thought it would be interesting to collect data regarding ISP performance in a consistent way.

Sometimes faults are reported to ISPs and telcos but no job is logged. This can happen because simply power cycling the router restores the service - but it may not actually fix the problem, and the companies don't know something is going on.

We also see many new discussions here on Geekzone with topics such as "Is [service] down in Christchurch or is just me?"

To help us get a better view of these small problems - and their real impact - I wanted to start collecting information from our users - the "crowdsource" part of the project.

I put together a Geekzone  ISP/Telco Fault Report page where you can record faults as they happen.

We will make the collected data publicly available in the coming days with views by ISP and region, including some charts and hopefully a Google Map plugin.

Big thanks to Brett Roberts for starting the process...



The first Geekzone Awards ever

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Dec-2010 13:11

A few weeks ago I received a suggestion to award one of our Geekzone users for his contributions. It was a great suggestion and after talking to our moderator team we agreed Stephen Abbot (cyril7 on Geekzone) has been of great help to our entire community and deserved some recognition. On his own words:

"I am deeply honoured and to be honest, quite humbled to be offered such a gift. As you probably are well aware my contribution is provided without hooks and in an effort to demystify stuff for the average person that they normally would not have easy access to."

Stephen lurks around Geekzone and helps people on lots of different subjects, from broadband performance to Freeview and Sky configurations.

I reached out to Dell AU/NZ and they offered a ST2320L full HD monitor - 23" widescreen HD (1920 by 1080) monitor, for use with desktops, laptops, gaming consoles, media centres, digital video recorders. It's here with me now and we will arrange for Stephen to get it this coming week.

After thinking about the suggestion for a little bit we also agreed to give a prize to the user who created the most epic discussion this year. This honour goes to Adam Jobbins (ajobbins on Geekzone, @ajobbins on Twitter) who created the topic "iPhone 4 NZ Launch Date".

This topic got really hot during the days - and nights - preceding the iPhone 4 release in New Zealand, and all the problems around the lack of external communications from both Apple and Vodafone New Zealand during that period. The discussion gathered so much momentum that on the launch night it got more than 70 pages of replies. In total there are 160 pages with 2,399 replies, making it the most epic discussion of the year (just a few replies ahead of another huge discussion, the Samsung Galaxy S I9000 by lokhor).

Adam will receive an Amazon Kindle (which I bought specially for this award).

Congratulations to both Stephen and Adam.

I am thinking we will establish a more formal award for 2011, with additional categories to be announced during the year.



IT Rockstar 2011 is on - register now...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Nov-2010 18:27

For the third year I am a judge at IT Rockstar, a crazy competition to find the top New Zealand IT professional.

Judges are:

Brett (NZICT CEO)
Josh (IT Rockstar 2010)
Mauricio (Geekzone BDFL)
Rhoda (Greenstone CEO)

This year the team at 920 are accepting individual and team nomination.

Below is a video of the IT Rockstar 2010 final - skip to the 33 second mark to see me and fellow judge Brett Roberts (another Brett):



New Zealand copyright law proposal: you are guilty until you prove your innocence

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Nov-2010 15:25

I am reproducing here Juha's blog post "New unjust copyright law alert: you are guilty until you prove your innocence" because this issue affects all New Zealand Internet users in general and I want it to get even more exposure.

Despite Labour and various lobby groups patting themselves on the back, saying a compromise has been reached that makes the amended copyright law workable and fair, it looks like things have in fact taken a turn for the worse.

Please make sure that you read this: Internet law guru Rick Shera is ringing the alarm bell about a completely new provision being introduced into the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill at the very last moment by the Commerce Select Committee.

Called Section 122MA, the provision essentially presumes an account holder is guilty if accused and must prove his/her innocence. Rights holders infringement notices are considered as conclusive evidence however. There is no sanction against rights holders who present erroneous or false evidence in the proposed new law either.

This is really bad from every perspective, and I fully concur with Rick that Section 122MA must be deleted. It's not necessary, not for rights holders, and not for copyright protection either.

As it stands, S122MA can be used maliciously, and applied to not just file sharers.

Update: Rick sent a correction - "The new regime can ONLY be used to target file sharing (you suggest that it could be used for something else).  Section 92C of course has exactly the same problem with guilt on accusation.  Irony is many submitted that the new regime and section 92C should be made consistent.  Little did we know that they would retrofit the new one!"

The irony here is that I remember David Farrar, wearing his InternetNZ hat, saying during the S92A debacle that it was necessary to engage and help shape the new law. If not, something much worse than S92A et al could appear.

Clearly, there have been many, many submissions on the new copyright bill and plenty of public opinion expressed too - and correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think anyone with the possible exception of rights holders have advocated that we remove the principle of innocent until found guilty from our laws.

So why did the Select Committee insert Section 122MA? This needs to be explained.



Where in the world is Olga Fiedo?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Oct-2010 10:19

An interesting sequence of events started here earlier this week. I received an unexpected box, posted from Dunedin, apparently from one "Olga Fiedo". Inside the box a small clay ornament, with a numbered card.

I don't know Olga Fiedo, and search attempts didn't return anything meaningful. 

But this morning I got a phone call. Someone asked for "Olga Fiedo". It seems this person also got a box from this mysterious "Olga Fiedo". With my phone number in the sender details.

Now curious, I looked at the box I received earlier this week and noticed that the phone number in the recipient details was not from Dunedin, but a Wellington area number. So I called that number and reached a family voice mail. No "Olga Fiedo" in the welcome message though, only mum, dad and two kids.

It's obvious now that whoever sent this wanted people to call each other, and spread the name - or get curious about it. As I posted to my Twitter, ok Olga, I'm listening...

Do you know Olga Fiedo?



iPhone the most expensive phone, does not appeal to business...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Oct-2010 12:32

That's what Steve Ballmer said


Thanks to Fake Steve Jobs for refreshing our memory...



Forum Nokia Developers Breakfast (Auckland)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Oct-2010 16:44

Received this announcement, which may be of interest to some here in the mobile development community:

Book your seat at the inaugural Forum Nokia Developers Breakfast on 4th November 2010
 
Tap into this unique opportunity to network with your peers and meet the Nokia team. Download market insights on the New Zealand mobile market and explore the latest trends in mobile apps. Get introduced to the latest Symbian^3 devices and understand Nokia's new software strategy. Learn about the publishing process to the Ovi Store and explore the partnering opportunities for brands, content owners, developers and entrepreneurs.
 
Also, learn about the advantages of developing on the Qt platform and cross-platform development opportunities.

When: 4 November 2010
Where: Rendezvous Hotel, Auckland

Link to register for the event
Link to see the agenda



Steve Ballmer explains Windows Phone 7

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Oct-2010 08:44

Earlier today Microsoft Corp. joined its partners in revealing nine new Windows Phone 7 handsets that will be available this year from mobile operators in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.

There are more than 60 mobile operators in over 30 countries worldwide committed to bringing Windows Phones to market.

“We have a beautiful lineup in this first wave of Windows Phone 7 handsets,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “Microsoft and its partners are delivering a different kind of mobile phone and experience — one that makes everyday tasks faster by getting more done in fewer steps and providing timely information in a ‘glance and go’ format.”

Windows Phone 7 will be available in a variety of form factors from device-makers such as Dell, HTC Corp., LG and Samsung, and from mobile operators including América Móvil, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom AG, Movistar, O2, Orange, SFR, SingTel, Telstra, TELUS, T-Mobile USA and Vodafone.

All Windows Phone 7 phones will include the high-performance Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm. A broad selection of phones will begin shipping in holiday 2010 with more arriving in 2011, including phones from Sprint and Verizon Wireless. In addition, select models will be available at Microsoft Store locations and from Amazon.

Here's a video of Steve Ballmer talking about Windows Phone 7:



All content is created equal on the net

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Oct-2010 16:39

Recently Sky Network Television Ltd announced their plans of partnering with some New Zealand-based ISPs to distribute content for its new service iSky free of charge ("unmetered") to their customers. Like so many things on the Internet, free is good - unless it has the potential to undermine the basic principle of equal access to information to everyone.

The following is a guest post by Ludwig Wendzich on this topic:

The great thing about the Internet is that anyone with access to the network can access any public content available through these connections. The independent content producer, the home movie dad and the giant media moguls are all on a level playing field and the consumer, you, have the option to decide which content they want to consume, as long as you have a working Internet connection and haven't run through your data cap yet.

Net neutrality is the idea that access to the Internet means access to the whole Internet at the same price. The product which telcos sell are bits, or data transfer. They can charge you a $80 for 40GB of data transfer at 256kpbs, or offer you different packages, but their product is still data transfer.

What data you choose to download is up to you. Telcos should have no business in deciding which content you should or shouldn't have access to.

Now we have to defend our rights against some New Zealand telcos placing a bias towards the consumption of certain types of content -- more specifically, a bias toward the content produced by media giants with enough cash to subsidize the cost of data transfer.

ISP Orcon announced the O-Zone where they allow free access to a number of large websites, including TVNZ. Telecom New Zealand announced their partnership with TiVO giving customers unmetered access to on demand TiVO content. And now a number of ISPs (including Vodafone, Orcon, Slingshot, farmside, Woosh and Xnet) have announced a partnership with SKY which allows SKY subscribers to have unmetered access to on demand SKY content on their computers over the Internet.

On the surface this seems like a great deal and that's exactly what the telcos want you to think. Vodafone spokesman, Paul Brislen, has said (on their company twitter account) that "this is nothing more than Sky saying 'you can watch the content you've paid for on TV or on PC' and that's it". But this simply isn't true. The distinction needs to be made between the two services:

1. Access to on demand SKY content
2. Data transfer from the telcos

Paying for content online doesn't mean you have paid for the delivery. These are separate services. When you buy a book at Amazon you still have to pay for postage. Buying a movie from iTunes doesn't mean that you no longer have to pay for the data transfer. It uses just the basic form of content - bits - to  transfer this iTunes movie as downloading the same movie from torrents.

The cost of the service doesn't negate the cost of the data transfer which means that the telcos here have effectively made the iSKY service an infinitely cheaper entertainment service than anything else online (except for TVNZ on Orcon). That's because they have allowed SKYTV to pay for those data transfer charges instead of passing them on to their own customers, you.

This seems very good for us now, no data charges for TVNZ (on Orcon), no data charges for SKYTV (on selected providers) if we already subscribe to SKY, and no data charges for on demand TiVO content (on Telecom.) Not paying for something must be good, right?

That's a shortsighted view because it will lead to us ending up with the Internet being populated by the media giants, who can afford to strike these data transfer deals with the telcos to allow their content to be accessed for free. And the rest of us, who can't afford to pay for everyone else's data transfer of our content are at a huge disadvantage with consumers having to pay for something they are used to having paid on their behalf, making them less likely to access our, now more expensive, content.

When I suggested to Vodafone that they are creating an Internet that excludes the little man, they responded with "there is nothing to stop you doing any of this - that's absolutely untrue", suggesting that if I wanted to be on a level playing field with the big boys I could also strike a deal with Vodafone that would have them serve my content for free. I asked how much this would cost and it turns out that Vodafone "have no idea how much [I'd] pay - that's a commercial negotiation [I'd] have to engage in, just as Sky has."

Think for a minute what this means. New startups could not exist. Creating a new Internet web property would cost so much to the new entrant, that they would cease to exist because they do not have enough money to subsidize everyone's access to their websites.

Every single web property only exists because the Internet is a neutral platform. Anyone can put something online, and anyone else with an Internet connection, can access that content at the same cost as consuming any other content (of the same file size) on the Internet.

The great thing about the Internet is that it is neutral. Let's not give control of the Internet to the conglomerates, the media companies or even the telcos. Telcos should be bit movers, not content providers.

We protested against Section 92a (#s92a) and won. Child pornography and piracy were used as a smokescreen to confuse the issues but we saw through it. Now you are being distracted by free access to on demand video content. Just because the telcos handicap us with low data caps at ridiculous prices doesn't mean we should fall for this.

Instead, we should stand strong behind this issue, our freedom of choice, and argue that if the telcos are so interested in the customers, as Vodafone claims on their twitter account (http://twitter.com/vodafoneNZ/status/25849971917), then they would increase caps and drop prices instead of making content choices on our behalf.

Access to the whole web is being restricted (by low data caps and high prices) and telcos want you to believe you are better off because access to certain content is now free. This is simply not true and New Zealanders would be shooting themselves in the foot  if they accept this as Internet will go the way of radio -- everyone will have access to the available content for free, but the available content will be severely limited to those who have the financial means to afford to distribute it.

Ludwig Wendzich is a 19 year-old web and technology enthusiast who is currently studying Design at AUT. He's been involved in the world of web design from a very young age and has been running Barcamp Auckland, a homegrown gathering of technologists from around New Zealand, since 2007. His personal website is http://ludwignz.com and you can follow him on Twitter @ludwigw.



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.



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