A few technology providers and individuals are offering to help companies affected by the Christchurch earthquake (September 2010). If you need any help with IT (infrastructure, servers, email, etc) here is a list of companies willing to help you:
Amanzi (HP hardware at cost and managed monitoring service)
Catalyst IT (office and server space in Wellington)
Chris Claridge (office space in Christchurch)
Gorilla Technology (IT in general, infrastructure)
Esri (GIS assistance to government agencies and private organisations in response to disasters)
Memia (Google Apps and email setup)
Responsive IT (Microsoft Server, Small Business Server)
Snap (Internet connectivity)
Unleash Data Centre (server colocation)
VendHQ (free web-based Point of Sale for three months)
Wave Adept (Google Apps and email setup)
Where's My Server (server virtualisation)
A more complex situation is for those using Microsoft software and services. The Microsoft New Zealand issued a statement today clarifying:
. For consumers (typically with 1 or 2 standalone PCs) experiencing software issues related to Microsoft products, as they restart their PCs, or have to reload software on new PCs, please call our support line for free Telephone based support on 0800 800 004.
. For small businesses affected by the earthquake (typically with 1 or more PCs and Servers, and not actively managed by a Microsoft Customer or Partner Account Manager), Microsoft is making available Telephone based service incident support calls free of charge by calling 0800 800 004.
. In addition to the above, Microsoft Managed Partners and Enterprise Managed Customers (defined as the Customers and Partners that have Microsoft Account Manager) also have the ability to receive free priority telephone based technical support subject to availability.
Microsoft is also making available to affected Microsoft Managed Partners and Enterprise Managed Customers, on a case-by-case basis, access to assistance and advice from our Consulting and Premier Support personnel, and access to Microsoft Online Services (Microsoft Cloud based Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Communications Online and Office Live Meeting) for situations where their infrastructure is damaged to the point where they require an alternative messaging & collaboration suite on a temporary basis until such times as they can rebuild.
If your company relies on its IT infrastructure being in place to continue to operate, and you are having problems, contact one of these companies.
For the last seven years we have been hosting Geekzone with Auckland-based ISP and hosting provider ICONZ, but since our two year contract was coming to an end it would be only good business practice to investigate alternatives in terms of cost, bandwidth, location.
And with that in mind, a few weeks ago we started talking to some colocation providers. We had very few requirements - we are not the largest online publisher in New Zealand, but Geekzone does sit regularly on the top 50 New Zealand-based websites in unique visitors, according to Nielsen.
According to our analytics data, 75% of our New Zealand visitors come from Auckland, with the majority of these using Telecom New Zealand, followed by (in order) Callplus/Slingshot, Orcon, WorldxChange, Vodafone and TelstraClear.
Since site speed is something that I consider one of the most important things for a good user experience, it made sense to us to consider Auckland-based service providers, with good Internet access and peering.
Also, when deciding location we had to consider that while New Zealand readers make up 70% of our page views, in absolute number of users it's only 40% - so we still needed to be located somewhere with good international connectivity, close to the submarine cables leaving the country.
Of course we also considered physical security access, power source, etc.
We managed to get into a great conversation with Datacom, through an introduction from Ben Gracewood. After considering services, infrastructure and prices I think we managed to agree on a deal that will allow us to continue running Geekzone with more "space" to grow, thanks to the savings we will be making.
You will see this new box at the bottom of all our pages in the main site:
These logos represent the companies or services that help Geekzone run as fast as possible, serving more than 600,000 unique visits every month. Huge thanks to Datacom, RedJungle, Aptimize, HP ProLiant DL servers and Microsoft SQL Server. Also thanks to ICONZ, whose skilled technical people helped us grow to where we are today.
With this app you can:
• Check the best prices for a product.
• Check PriceSpy user reviews for a product.
• See stores selling a certain product laid out on Google maps.
• Get directions to stores selling a product.
It should complement the PriceSpy website nicely...
Incredible how Microsoft is still struggling to get product names right. After buying FolderShare and turning it into Windows Live Mesh the company changed its name to Windows Live Sync, just to rename it again today to Windows Live Mesh.
Ok, you get an increase from 2GB to 5GB storage for synced files, but come on... Enough of "Windows Live..." products. Foldershare worked fine as a name, thanks.
Drop Windows Live and go back to the roots. Hotmail, Foldershare will work just as well, without the "Windows Live..." bits.
While at it why not "BlogWriter" instead of "Windows Live Writer", and just "MovieMaker" instead of "Windows Live MovieMaker". And perhaps get out of "Windows Phone 7" and use something like "myPhone". Microsoft already have the MyPhone service anyway.
(Note I didn't check for any trademarks, so these might be taken anyway).
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.
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):
I received an invite for their launch event, but you can watch it online now...
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):
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.
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.
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.