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Google Apps ate her emails...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Aug-2010 11:04

Although I use Microsoft BPOS myself (after realising the fail in Google mobile sync technologies last year), my relatives' small business have their email hosted with Google Apps Premiere.

The reason we used Google apps Premiere for their email is that we could use the Google Apps Outlook Sync for Microsoft Outlook. After all we don't want to impact their small organsation, and keep things running as before, right? For them that meant keep using Microsoft Outlook and Google Apps Outlook Sync for Microsoft Outlook indeed provided for that.

All was going well for the first year, I say. Quick and easy. But then they decided to go on a travel and instead of taking their large laptop, they decided on a HP Mini. Installed  Outlook and Google Apps Outlook Sync for Microsoft Outlook on that and off they went.

Last weekend we all went to Napier for a sad family event. They took the HP Mini with them. On Saturday evening we started the laptop, opened Microsoft Outlook, to be told by Google Apps Outlook Sync for Microsoft Outlook that it needed to re-sync.

Now, the options were re-sync, or overwrite the contents on the laptop. And over mobile data "overwrite the contents on the laptop" seemed overkill. We are talking about a gigabyte or so over mobile, which is not exactly cheap.

So we opted for re-sync. And it worked for about an hour on that...

On Monday, she found out all emails from May through July were gone from the main laptop. They were also gone from the Google Apps Mail web-based application.

May was the last time the HP Mini was used, and since then only their large laptop. Last weekend "re-sync" seems to have assumed any missing emails were not actually "missing" but "deleted" and proceeded to remove from the server. They are not even in the Deleted folder. They are gone. Three full months of emails gone. Like that...

It seems Google doesn't quite work well when synchronising two devices and the same account in the cloud.

Someone is not happy, which makes me unhappy. And someone is being advised to move to a hosted Exchange solution, possibly the same Microsoft BPOS I use now.

Google, this was the second strike.



Windows Phone 7 ties online gaming and mobile (Halo fans apply below)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Aug-2010 15:40

After neglecting the online gaming community for so long, the Microsoft mobile folks are at least working on a killer proposition: get those online gamers into mobile.

They are talking about 25 million active Xbox LIVE users who will have access, through Windows Phone 7 to a lot of the features they are used to while playing PC games and consoles: avatars, achievements, gamerscore, etc.

This is a list of game available at launch:

. "3D Brick Breaker Revolution" (Digital Chocolate)
. "Age of Zombies" (Halfbrick)
. "Armor Valley" (Prot?g? Games)
. "Asphalt 5" (Gameloft)
. "Assassins Creed" (Gameloft)
. "Bejeweled LIVE" (PopCap)
. "Bloons TD" (Digital Goldfish)
. "Brain Challenge" (Gameloft)
. "Bubble Town 2" (i-Play)
. "Butterfly" (Press Start Studio)
. "CarneyVale Showtime" (MGS)
. "Castlevania" (Konami)
. "Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst" (MGS)
. "De Blob Revolution" (THQ)
. "Deal or No Deal 2010" (i-Play)
. "Earthworm Jim" (Gameloft)
. "Fast & Furious 7" (i-Play)
. "Fight Game Rivals" (Rough Cookie)
. "Finger Physics" (Mobliss Inc.)
. "Flight Control" (Namco Bandai)
. "Flowerz" (Carbonated Games)
. "Frogger" (Konami)
. "Fruit Ninja" (Halfbrick)
. "Game Chest-Board" (MGS)
. "Game Chest-Card" (MGS)
. "Game Chest-Logic" (MGS)
. "Game Chest-Solitaire" (MGS)
. "GeoDefense" (Critical Thought)
. "Ghostscape" (Psionic)
. "Glow Artisan" (Powerhead Games)
. "Glyder 2" (Glu Mobile)
. "Guitar Hero 5" (Glu Mobile)
. "Halo Waypoint" (MGS)
. "Hexic Rush" (Carbonated Games)
. "I Dig It" (InMotion)
. "iBlast Moki" (Godzilab)
. "ilomilo" (MGS)
. "Implode XL" (IUGO)
. "Iquarium" (Infinite Dreams)
. "Jet Car Stunts" (True Axis)
. "Let's Golf 2" (Gameloft)
. "Little Wheel" (One click dog)
. "Loondon" (Flip N Tale)
. "Max and the Magic Marker" (PressPlay)
. "Mini Squadron" (Supermono Limited)
. "More Brain Exercise" (Namco Bandai)
. "O.M.G." (Arkedo)
. "Puzzle Quest 2" (Namco Bandai)
. "Real Soccer 2" (Gameloft)
. "The Revenants" (Chaotic Moon)
. "Rise of Glory" (Revo Solutions)
. "Rocket Riot" (Codeglue)
. "Splinter Cell Conviction" (Gameloft)
. "Star Wars: Battle for Hoth" (THQ)
. "Star Wars: Cantina" (THQ)
. "The Harvest" (MGS)
. "The Oregon Trail" (Gameloft)
. "Tower Bloxx NY" (Digital Chocolate)
. "Twin Blades" (Press Start Studio)
. "UNO" (Gameloft)
. "Women's Murder Club: Death in Scarlet" (i-Play)
. "Zombie Attack!" (IUGO)
. "Zombies!!!!" (Babaroga)

Since I didn't have enough space in our news page, here are some screenshots showing what you can expect to see on your Windows Phone 7 when it gets to the market (hopefully we will not be too far behind here in New Zealand):

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Games Hub

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Halo Base

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 The Harvest

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 The Harvest Prelude



Das Tub

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Aug-2010 13:43

If you have seen Das Boot (or not), here is a spoof created by students at the Media Design School in Auckland, called Das Tub.

I received an invite for their launch event, but you can watch it online now...



Vodafone SIMple vs Digital Island SIMple

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Aug-2010 17:44

Vodafone New Zealand has announced a new set of mobile plans called "SIMple"... These are basically a no long term on account plan. The company is trying to  get to those users who don't care for a handset subsidy and care even less for a long term "partnership", but don't want prepay (for many reasons, perhaps even the need of invoices, complete activity lists, etc):

SIMple Vodafone

Digital Island is a MVNO that resells Telecom New Zealand XT mobile services. Clearly they don't have a "SIMple" plan, but they do have a SIMple logo:

SIMple Digital Island

Coincidence? According to Digital Island's Blair Stewart "Digital Island's design agency created the SIMple concept in early May and we added it to our website later the same month. Vodafone launched SIMple on their website in August."

Thanks to regs for the tip in our forums.



CreativeTech Auckland (September 2010)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Aug-2010 11:27

I was asked to put the word out there for the CreativeTech conference, happening in Auckland this September 2010... So here it goes, the full release:

CreativeTech - the byte-sized technology event September 2010

CreativeTech is a new technology forum about all things Apple being held on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 September 2010 in Auckland.

The first of its kind in Australasia, the event is sponsored by AUT and Vodafone for Apple users of all levels.

It offers a broad mix of 'byte-sized' talks or presentations, from practical 'how to' showcases of the latest Apple, Adobe, FileMaker and Microsoft software, to advanced developing for the iPhone and iPad, with expert insights into tomorrow's technologies.

Attendees can check out the very latest in software, applications and mobile technology.

CreativeTech's Mark Webster, perhaps New Zealand's best-known Apple commentator, says the event will cover developing, design, music, filmmaking, education, business administration and more.

"From mum and dad home users wanting Mac tips, to the musicians and filmmakers of tomorrow, there's something for everyone, from practical to creative to visionary. CreativeTech will inform, entertain, showcase and engage."

Discussing tomorrow's technologies is keynote speaker, futurist Mark Pesce. From the US but now based in Australia, Pesce is a former Apple employee and early pioneer of virtual reality who regularly travels the globe presenting on the future of technology.

From Australia, MacTheMag editor (and former editor of Macworld Australia) Matthew JC Powell will give his take on the future for Apple and what new technologies we can expect in the years to come.

Other speakers include: twenty-two-year-old Australians and successful Mac and iPhone developers (Soulver and Picturesque) Zac Cohan and Nik Youdale; KIWA Media VP and QBook developer Roger Shakes; triathlete and iPhone developer Rob Beck, head of interactive technologies at AUT James Charlton; Leon Dahl from Rockshop; and educationalist Dorothy Burt.

With multiple streams and small-to-medium lecture sizes (150-200 seats), participants in the two-day event can pick and choose which sessions are right for them.

Attendees can also check out and purchase the latest gadgets in the Trade Stand Area, chill out in the CT Lounge between sessions and even get free help and advice at the Wired Dog Help Desk.

And watch out for a special screening at the neighbouring Academy Cinema of never before screened in New Zealand movie Welcome to Macintosh.

Tickets are $120 for one day, $200 for both and are available now. Seating is strictly limited so be in quick to secure your spot.

For more information or to purchase your ticket, go to www.creativetech.net.nz.



Time for some site stats update: Firefox just ahead of Internet Explorer

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Aug-2010 11:42

Now and then I remember to post an update on stats we collect here on Geekzone... To put this in context, remember Geekzone is a technology community, with a demographics that is more likely to update their browser and computers to the latest and greatest. Having said, it is obvious our numbers will be very different of those from a site with a more "traditional" audience.

All those numbers are based on a sampling of more than 600,000 visits to the site over the last month.

Operating System: Microsoft Windows continues to lead the pack, with 84.39% of the visits. Mac OS follows with 9.85% and Linux third with 3.63%. iPad shows up in fourth with 0.91%. There was one lonely visit from someone using IBM OS/2 (and similarly small numbers for Playstation 3, SunOS, NetBSD, FreeBSD, Unix, OpenBSD).

Visitors using Windows were split in Windows XP (47.24%), Windows 7 (34.16%) and Windows Vista (16.92%). We should mention those brave 19 people visiting Geekzone while using Windows ME, and those three using Windows 95.

Mac OS users mostly used Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard (70.2%), and Mac OS 10.5 Leopard (21.41%). Someone out there is either using Mac OS 10.7 or faking the agent string, with two visits.

Browsers: Yet again Microsoft Internet Explorer and Firefox are head to head. And Firefox is again just inching in front of Internet Explorer. Here are the numbers: Firefox with 36.50%, Internet Explorer with 35.56%, Chrome with 16.63%,  Safari with 7.72%, Opera with 2.26%. Thanks to that person who visited Geekzone from a Nook eReader, and the Lynx user.

There are still 10.15% of users on Internet Explorer 6, but the majority is using Internet Explorer 8 (68.57%) and Internet Explorer 7 (21.23%).

Firefox users are mostly on 3.6.6 with 48.15% of the visits, but from there you see a variety of versions. It seems even though Firefox is gaining traction, people still don't update their browser installs.

IPv6: IPv6 adoption is slow, but I believe content providers should move in that direction... Since connecting Geekzone servers to an IPv6-enabled network and introducing AAAA records we have seen 0.04% of the visits coming through that connection.

Forums: Our Geekzone forums exploded last week thanks to the imbroglio that was the iPhone 4 launch in New Zealand. We saw spikes of more than 100% traffic over previous periods (day/week) thanks to the confusion generated by Apple and Vodafone not coming to an agreement if there would be an iPhone 4 launch in the country - less than 24 hours before the previously announced release date.

As a consequence, this month our top five Geekzone forums were Apple iOS (11.90%), Telecom New Zealand (8.28%), Off Topic (7.50%), Home Theatre (6.26%), Android (5.54%).

In the next update I will be able to report a new metric we are now following: ad blockers. Since Geekzone is fully funded by advertising (with some special sponsored blogs such as Visual Studio 2008 and MyFreeview|HD Review), I wanted to find out how many of our tech savvy users visit Geekzone and block our ads. We just started measuring this, and so far the numbers are a surprise to me.



TVNZ 7 and InternetNZ debate: Safety and Privacy Online

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jul-2010 17:54

Coming soon to TVNZ 7, InternetNZ - and a dedicated page here on Geekzone. If you plan to tweet about this please use the tag #TVNZ7:


Broadcaster TVNZ 7 and online policy leader InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) are proud to announce the TVNZ 7 Internet Debate on Wednesday 11 August at 9.10pm, LIVE from Avalon Studios in Wellington and hosted by experienced journalist Damian Christie.

The TVNZ 7 Internet Debate will be broadcast on TVNZ 7, streamed online and will incorporate online chat and polling to debate one of the most contentious topics surrounding the Internet today – “Who is responsible for safety and privacy online?”

The Debate will investigate three contentious areas of the Internet age – the safety of children, government intervention such as Internet filtering, and the industry’s responsibility to keep our data private as use of social media grows.

The public can watch on TVNZ 7 (available on Freeview/TiVo channel 7 or SKY/Telstra channel 97, www.internetnz.net.nz/tvnz7debate, or www.geekzone.co.nz. Online conversation leading up to and on the night will be established on Twitter, Geekzone and Facebook.

An expert range of panelists has been assembled including NetSafe Executive Director Martin Cocker, InternetNZ CE Vikram Kumar, Family First National Director Bob McCroskie, Telecommunications Industry Group CEO Rob Spray, Watchdog International founder Peter Mancer and Taylor Shaw lawyer Kathryn Dalziel.

The show is part of TVNZ 7’s Spotlight on Science and Technology month and is produced by Wellington production company Top Shelf.

TVNZ 7 Channel Manager Philippa Mossman says “TVNZ 7 is all about discovering, discussing and debating and we’re pleased to be working with InternetNZ to bring this thought-provoking debate on a topic that affects each of us in a far-reaching way. It’s a logical fit with our focus on science and technology in August, but it’s as much a debate about contemporary society and culture as it is about technology.”

InternetNZ CEO Vikram Kumar says the online world has become an inextricable part of most New Zealanders daily lives.

“As more New Zealanders connect and the Internet continues to grow, issues of online safety and security, use and abuse of social media, government filtering and censorship are coming under the microscope.

“The TVNZ 7 Internet Debate focuses a lens on these issues, asking who is responsible for online safety and privacy in the context of parents & children, individuals vs. government and individuals vs. the internet industry.”

On the day of the TVNZ 7 Internet Debate a series of public workshops will be hosted by InternetNZ in Wellington and NetSafe in Auckland.
For more information see:

facebook.com/TVNZ7
internetnz.net.nz/tvnz7debate




What about the iPhone 4 3G coverage in New Zealand?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jul-2010 14:48

It seems my previous posts on the iPad 3G coverage in New Zealand have hit something - a lot of people thought I was supporting one network operator or another. Not at all - it's just to let people know where they would get more from their new mobile device and why.

I urge people to read the first post in the series "Where can you get 3G coverage for your new Apple iPad in New Zealand" for a complete picture of 3G coverage and to understand what's at play here.

Now the good news: if you have plans to buy an iPhone 4 when it hits the local market this Friday, then you will have 3G almost everywhere, regardless of which mobile operator you decide to go with.

That's because the iPhone 4 works in all 3G frequencies currently available in New Zealand: 850MHz (Telecom XT), 900 MHz (Vodafone 3G Extended) and 2100 MHz (Vodafone 3G).

As per my previous posts, Telecom XT runs a single 850 MHz network.

Vodafone runs two 3G networks, complementing each other. Combined, Vodafone 3G (2100MHz) and Vodafone 3G Extended (900MHz).

Bot operators claim to cover 97% of the New Zealand population (or as they say "where people live, work, play").

Here is a comparison of 3G coverage you will get when using the Telecom XT (left) and Vodafone 3G/3G Extended networks (right):

iPhone 4 3G coverage in New Zealand

Click the map for a bigger version. Make sure you visit both Telecom New Zealand 3G coverage map and Vodafone New Zealand 3G coverage map to see for yourself. When looking the Vodafone New Zealand map remember to check the 3G and 3G extended boxes to get the complete view.



iPad 3G coverage in New Zealand: the big picture

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jul-2010 13:56

In a previous blog post I explained where you can get 3G coverage for your new iPad in New Zealand.

Because the images I sourced had different resolutions I had to post one map for Telecom New Zealand and multiple maps for Vodafone New Zealand.

A reader sent me in a single large image showing side by side the Telecom XT and Vodafone 3G coverage. You can click the map to get a large version:





Hell Pizza Hell: database security was lacking?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Jul-2010 01:56

Everyone heard about the Hell Pizza database leak, but what is only now showing up in the media is a story that seems to be developing for more than twelve months. Back in August 2009 some Geekzone users reported receiving spam on email addresses used only with Hell Pizza's online ordering system.

At the time someone posted in our forums on behalf of Hell Pizza saying "we don't sell email addresses (very bad), nor have we been hacked (our web servers are behind dedicated, monitored firewalls). We use software from interspire and I'm not aware of any security vunerabilities in the latest version we have installed."

Fast forward thirteen months to this week and blog Risky.Biz published "I know what you ate last summer" where it reveals that "multiple intruders have compromised Hell Pizza's 400mb (sic) database. While it does not contain any credit card information, it does contain in excess of 230,000 rows of customer entries."

It continues "When contacted by Risky.Biz, Hell Pizza co-owner Stuart McMullin said he was unaware of the data breach. He offered no comment when a list of questions was e-mailed to him, beyond acknowledging the contact from "concerned customers" in 2009.

"I have spoken to my IT staff and they are not aware that our site was hacked or any records lost," McMullin wrote in an e-mail to Risky.Biz. "There were a couple of 'customers' that thought it was the case last year who emailed us - perhaps these are the sources you are referring to - but not to our knowledge."

The New Zealand media found the story, and the NBR published "Hell Pizza: customer database could have been hacked". Chris Keall contacted Hell Pizza director Warren Powell who said "Everybody gets hacked into, even the Pentagon." He also added "The potentially stolen data was "of no value to anyone."

That's the problem. The data is valuable to spammers and for anyone who would like to try any of those 230,000 passwords in other sites - it's a known fact that many Internet users simply reuse the same password in different sites. This can potentially lead to identity theft. This is serious business.

According to a story on Stuff "Hell's director Warren Powell told NZPA he is unaware of any breach in security, and IT staff have so far found nothing proving information has been stolen."

Now comes the interesting part... Mr Warren Powel said to Stuff "If there is breach of security it will appear, data would have been removed and therefore it would appear as a download. We'll be able to find out the day and the computer it was downloaded to and we'll be able to prosecute this person if they exist."

They won't find anything. If Risky.Biz is correct, the old Hell Pizza ordering system was developed with poor attention to security, and the application running on the user's browser was communicating directly with the database.

This means any connection to the database would be considered valid, therefore those "dedicated, monitored firewall" wouldn't do any good.

It also means anyone could issue commands to the database and receive a response with that data - in which case it wouldn't appear as a download at all, but as a normal web request in the web server logs.

I tried contacting Hell Pizza via email but received no reply.

People on Geekzone noticed the Hell Pizza Ireland website could still be running the old, apparently vulnerable version of the ordering system. Currently both Hell Pizza Australia and Hell Pizza UK are returning server errors, with messages that lead us to believe they too were running the apparently vulnerable site version until recently - perhaps taken down to prevent further access to data?

I was alerted by one of the Geekzone users of further evidence that there was a vulnerability on the old Hell Pizza ordering system, and a Google search reveals the existence of a script that was there only to execute SQL commands - so vulnerable in fact that even Google found it and cached a result:

Hell Pizza SQL Query on Google

In an email sent to customers this week, Stu McMullin, Hell Pizza Director says "Whilst we are still investigating the matter, we can confirm that the information was obtained without our knowledge and we have approached the New Zealand Police with a view to lodging a formal complaint.  Hell recognises the importance of protecting customer information and additional security measures were implemented earlier this year when our new website was rolled out (again, we reiterate that this is not an issue affecting the new website). As a further security measure your may wish to consider changing your passwords on other sites if they were the same as the old Hell Pizza website."

Juha Saarinen reminded us, via Twitter, of the Privacy Commisioner's Privacy Breach Guidelines.

How long since Hell Pizza had knowledge of this security breach? Or did they only realise something was happening after Risky.Biz contaced them? If they did have knowledge, why wasn't it disclosed before? Will we see other New Zealand companies working to improve their IT security practices after seeing this happening?



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'm 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.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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