My window to the world


Xero is no longer one size fits all

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Sep-2009 19:15

I have been a long time Xero customer. For those of you who don’t know, Xero is a local (New Zealand) success storym, a true startup company offering online accounting services – a true SaaS product.

Xero was founded in Wellington and from its start the (Rod Drury and Hamish Edwards) planned to make it big – after a few months in the market they launched its IPO in the NZX, and took the company public. Most recently the company received a large keystone investment from MYOB founder Craig Winkler

The service makes it easy for small business owners (like myself) to do the accounting – managing invoicing, expenses claims, bank reconciliation, generating GST and other reports automatically. Even if you have an accountant Xero is still a great way to provide the office with all the information needed for them to complete their work.

In my view one though of the few things that needed a bit of an adjustment was their pricing model  – it simply worked on an “one size fits all” table, which is not true for all businesses. For example while my own business can go with about twenty invoices a month, I have heard reports of some business generating more than 800 invoices a week via their API – and we both paid the same!

It seems Xero once again heard their users and launched an updated pricing table, with plans appropriately called Small, Medium and Large. Very good move, which is clearly going to benefit small businesses and contractors. Details of the packages have been blogged by Rod Drury.

I’ve agreed with Xero to host a discussion in our Xero Conversations forum at Geekzone. Please join us here to discuss this move and any other topic related to their service (alternativelly you can post questions as a comment here and answers will be posted in the forum).



Wellington Software Freedom Day 2009 is this 20th September

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Sep-2009 08:35

If you are interested in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), this Sunday 20th Sep 2009 is not to be missed. Software Freedom Day is a full day of install fests, hack fests, talks and more, at the Wellington Town Hall.



Toying with video...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Sep-2009 14:49

What do you think of this animated Geekzone logo to be used in video productions? Produced by madefromnewzealand.com.



Government plans to filter the Internet in New Zealand - now in full official draft

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Aug-2009 18:09

After a lot of comments and exposure on the whole "Internet filtering in New Zealand", the Department of Internal Affairs has released its draft proposal. You can download the document here (pdf link).

The document is officially entitled "Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System".


2.4 A person who views a website containing chid sexual abuse images is in possession of those images, if only for the period they appear on the screen.  The Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System therefore will help prevent inadvertent exposure to these images and will also help prevent New Zealanders from committing crimes.


Ok, so the DIA makes it clear what the filtering system is for.


4.3.1 The list is reviewed monthly, manually, to ensure that it is up to date and that the possibility of false positives is removed.  

4.3.2 Additions are only made to the list with the agreement of at least 3 warranted inspectors of publications that the material on the website meets the criterion that they explicitly show children being sexually abused.  

4.3.3 All sites on the list are visited and have a report that identifies the investigating officer and what he or she saw on the site when it was last reviewed.


So there goes our fears of rogue governments filtering any site that is against its policies and dare to speak up.


5.2.1 The Department will institute an Independent Reference Group (IRG) to maintain oversight of the operation of the Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System to ensure it is operated with integrity and adheres to the principles set down in this Code of Practice.


Good move. Someone needs to police the police.

This is what someone visiting one of the blocked sites will see:

Child Exploitation Filtering System

6.6 If a requester considers that they have been wrongly blocked from visiting a legitimate website then they can click on the link to the Website Appeal page to fill in an appeal.


Sounds good. It's easy to notify the list managers if there's something you think is wrongly blocked.


7. Data
7.1 What data is collected?
7.1.1 During the course of the filtering process the Department logs the following information regarding a request for a blocked website:
• Connection Number - relates to the number allocated to an ISP when it is included on the system and the type of connection eg. GIF2.
• Local IP – represents the IP address of the user – this is anonymised to protect the identity of the requester.
• Request - encompasses 2 fields: the Originating Site and the Requested Site.
• Remote IP - relates to the address of the remote site, this uses random numbers to ensure the Department cannot track it back.

7.2 What is the data used for
7.2.1 The collection of this data is necessary so that the system is able to be reviewed to ensure 24-hour 365-day uptime and no loss of business due to a technical glitch or fault, for ISPs who join the system.  

7.2.2 The logs are used to troubleshoot the connections between the Department’s system and the ISP.  As we are providing a service to a commercial organisation, it is our responsibility to ensure that the Department is able to offer the same level of service expected of any commercial enterprise.  

7.2.3 As no identifiable information is stored about the user requesting a website, this data cannot be used in support of any investigation or enforcement activity undertaken by the Department.  However, the data will be used for statistical and reporting purposes, for example to inform the Department of the level of demand in New Zealand for child sexual abuse images.  


Sounds too much information about a user's IP just for "troubleshooting the connections".


8.2 The Department also acknowledges that website filtering systems are not 100% effective in preventing access to illegal material.  A person with a reasonable level of technical skill can use tools that are freely available on the Internet to get around the filters.

8.3 As illegal material, such as child sexual abuse images, is most often traded on peer-to-peer networks or chatrooms, which will not be filtered, the Censorship Compliance Unit carries out active investigations in those spaces.


The DIA confirms what most tech savvy people knows: the trade of this kind of content is done under strict secrecy using protocols that are not being filtered. The DIA will continue to investigate (as they already do) and prosecute (well done).

This filter is just to prevent good people like you and me coming across this kind of material by accident - or to prevent 2.4 of happening.

In all a good cause. I was just expecting another paragraph there saying "This code is to make it clear no other type of content will be added to the filtered system at later stage".



Back to School Giveaways: HP dv4t discount code (U.S. only)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Aug-2009 07:45

Back to school giveawaysAs part of the Back to School: Better Together giveaway promotion HP is providing participant websites some discounts we can give to you.

Here is another super discount, thanks to HP: you can buy any custom HP dv4t configuration with a US$180 discount and get some bonus too: free 3GB RAM and 320GBHD upgrades, free HP CalcPad 200 and free shipping.

To get this discount just quote the coupon code NLB1562 at checkout when selecting both systems. This is valid until the 22th August only.

The fineprint: Valid for HP Home & Home Office (hpshopping.com) internet and call center purchases only. Coupon valid on first 100 redemptions, or while supplies last. Any unused portion will be forfeited. Each coupon code is limited to one usage per customer; one coupon code per checkout. Offer void where prohibited, taxed or restricted by law. Non-transferable. Not valid retroactively on previously purchased items. Not valid for any resale activity as defined by HP Home & Home Office Store. Coupons may not be used to purchase gift cards. Not valid on clearance sales. May not be permitted with certain bundle offers. Not valid on: Academic and Employee purchase programs, HP Employee purchase program, Refurbished products, Extended Service Plans. For complete coupon conditions, see "Coupon Information" in the "Customer Service" section at hpshopping.com
 
And remember to visit Back To School: Better Together giveaways for a lot more information on this back to school giveaways. make sure to bookmark that site so you know exactly when to enter each competition.







Where to find the music uploaders in New Zealand?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Aug-2009 22:29

Every week or so Nieslen sends out an interesting table with a bit of information about the Internet in good old New Zealand. This week (18 August 2009) the table was this one:

Website Visitors Uploading Music to the Internet

Interesting? Certainly good information for marketing folks, but without context it's not much. Is this legal or illegal downloads? Do these users make a difference between those two types?

I am told by Nielsen this table comes from their on-going online survey and it's related to this question:


15. In relation to creating content (eg writing a blog/uploading pictures) on the Internet, please indicate which of the following types of activities you have done in the past four weeks:
1. Created/updated or looked at an online profile on a social networking site
2. Contributed to a message board, online forum or wrote/commented on a blog
3. Uploaded pictures
4. Uploaded videos
5. Uploaded music
6. Posted a review of a product or service online
7. None of these


So this established the context (the question wasn't supplied with the chart). This is not the number of people uploading to these sites, but the number of people who frequent these sites that indicated they have uploaded music in the past four weeks.

If this was an Orwellian society (and perhaps with a 2084 version of S92a) I could even imagine the RIANZ sending out a letter to these sites asking them to identify their users, so "content police" could monitor each individual's usage later.

I am thinking of a post about content distribution - this will be coming shortly. But for the moment I am glad Geekzone is not in this list. I am told of some ad agencies around New Zealand already have the wrong impression about our demographics, and when presented with some hard evidence they are surprised about our mature audience. I can imagine their reaction if Geekzone was in a list of "music uploaders"...





Still some space left at IBM Forum 2009

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Aug-2009 22:44

The IBM Forum is on again and starts next week.  Registration is free!

Wellington, 18 August, Wellington Convention Center
Auckland, 20 August, Sky City Convention Center
Christchurch, 25 August, Christchurch Convention Center

Lots of sessions there including sessions from VMWare, Cisco, Juniper, Checkpoint and others.

Still a few spots left... Register on the IBM website: http://www.ibm.com/events/nz/ibmforum (where they ask you how did you hear about forum, enter 'geekzone', where it says "if an IBMer told you about forum" enter 'Angela' :) )

IBM Forum on Twitter: #ibmforum09 #ibmbizinsight



Back to School Giveaways: another HP discount code (U.S. only)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Aug-2009 18:38

Back to school giveawaysAs part of the Back to School: Better Together giveaway promotion HP is providing participant websites some discounts we can give to you.

Here is another super discount, thanks to HP: you can buy both the HP HDX 18T Premium laptop (18" laptop) and the HP Mini 110 netbook - and get a a US$500 off the total price.

To get this discount just quote the coupon code NBY4876 at checkout when selecting both systems. This is valid until the 15th August only.

The fineprint: Valid for HP Home & Home Office (hpshopping.com) internet and call center purchases only. Coupon valid on first 100 redemptions, or while supplies last. Any unused portion will be forfeited. Each coupon code is limited to one usage per customer; one coupon code per checkout. Offer void where prohibited, taxed or restricted by law. Non-transferable. Not valid retroactively on previously purchased items. Not valid for any resale activity as defined by HP Home & Home Office Store. Coupons may not be used to purchase gift cards. Not valid on clearance sales. May not be permitted with certain bundle offers. Not valid on: Academic and Employee purchase programs, HP Employee purchase program, Refurbished products, Extended Service Plans. For complete coupon conditions, see "Coupon Information" in the "Customer Service" section at hpshopping.com
 
And remember to visit Back To School: Better Together giveaways for a lot more information on this back to school giveaways. make sure to bookmark that site so you know exactly when to enter each competition.







Back to School Giveaways: another HP discount code (U.S. only)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Aug-2009 09:08

Back to school giveawaysAs part of the Back to School: Better Together giveaway promotion HP is providing participant websites some discounts we can give to you.

Here is another super discount, thanks to HP: you can buy both the HP dv6t and the HP Mini 110 for US$799 - a US$330 off the total price.

To get this discount just quote the coupon code NBW48735 at checkout when selecting both systems. This is valid until the 12th August only.

The fineprint: Valid for HP Home & Home Office (hpshopping.com) internet and call center purchases only. Coupon valid on first 100 redemptions, or while supplies last. Any unused portion will be forfeited. Each coupon code is limited to one usage per customer; one coupon code per checkout. Offer void where prohibited, taxed or restricted by law. Non-transferable. Not valid retroactively on previously purchased items. Not valid for any resale activity as defined by HP Home & Home Office Store. Coupons may not be used to purchase gift cards. Not valid on clearance sales. May not be permitted with certain bundle offers. Not valid on: Academic and Employee purchase programs, HP Employee purchase program, Refurbished products, Extended Service Plans. For complete coupon conditions, see "Coupon Information" in the "Customer Service" section at hpshopping.com
 
And remember to visit Back To School: Better Together giveaways for a lot more information on this back to school giveaways. make sure to bookmark that site so you know exactly when to enter each competition.







Back to School Giveaways: HP discount code (U.S. only)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Aug-2009 09:00

Back to school giveawaysAs part of the Back to School: Better Together giveaway promotion HP is providing participant websites some discounts we can give to you.

So here is the first discount, thanks to HP: US$300 off on a $999 (or higher) HP Pavilion dv6z laptop. This offer also includes free 3GB memory upgrade, free 320GB HDD upgrade, free color upgrade and free shipping.

To get all these just quote the coupon code NBY8746 at checkout.

The fineprint: Valid for HP Home & Home Office (hpshopping.com) internet and call center purchases only. Coupon valid on first 100 redemptions, or while supplies last. Any unused portion will be forfeited. Each coupon code is limited to one usage per customer; one coupon code per checkout. Offer void where prohibited, taxed or restricted by law. Non-transferable. Not valid retroactively on previously purchased items. Not valid for any resale activity as defined by HP Home & Home Office Store. Coupons may not be used to purchase gift cards. Not valid on clearance sales. May not be permitted with certain bundle offers. Not valid on: Academic and Employee purchase programs, HP Employee purchase program, Refurbished products, Extended Service Plans. For complete coupon conditions, see "Coupon Information" in the "Customer Service" section at hpshopping.com
 
And remember to visit Back To School: Better Together giveaways for a lot more information on this back to school giveaways. make sure to bookmark that site so you know exactly when to enter each competition.







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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