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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.







Isn't it time for our mobile operators to stop doing business with SMS scams?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Aug-2009 19:04

In a very welcome move, BNZ has decided to stop charging honour fees - those $20 the bank charged every time they approved a payment when your account balance was in the red.

In a letter to customers BNZ says the bank will see a reduction in revenue but there will be no increase in other fees.

Their CEO says they are doing this because many complaints come from these fees. Someone's salary was a day late and the bank would charge $20 per transaction. Or someone's gym membership is charged a day earlier and there they go charging those $20 fee.

The bank decided it was easier to not charge these fees at all - make the customer happier. And a happy customer is a customer that stays longer, right?

What about fees that some pay for "SMS subscribption services" that are mostly useless? You know, those services that you see being advertised in the middle of the night asking you to send a SMS to a shortcode - with the 1/10 second warning blinking on the screen that "this is a subscription service and you will be charge $5 per SMS received, up to three SMS per week". Or being advertised online through all possible means?

Lots have been written about these scams (Juha, Dominion Post, Geekzone). Unfortunately people don't look at the fineprint on TV or website before entering their mobile numbers on enticing web pages. I believe many genuinely don't understand the implications of entering their mobile numbers on an online form.

In defence of our telcos, there's "double opt-in" mechanism requirement. But I don't think this is enough to prevent people being silly. Also, what guarantees do we have those Premium SMS providers actually respect the double opt-in requirement? 

Instructions to STOP the subscription are there in the fineprint. But how many people actually remember the fineprint, let alone the instructions on how to stop the service? Or the phone number for their "local" helpdesk?

There's the case of someone who didn't actually even had to go through the "double opt-in" to get subscribed. That's because a Facebook application was granted access to this person's private information on the social network website. The fineprint for that application said something in the lines of "you hereby grants us right to access your private information on Facebook and subscribe your mobile to our service".

Facebook (as Twitter) only accepts mobile phone numbers after they are authenticated. For those scams it is a goldmine of valid mobile phone numbers. And we all know how silly applications spread on social networks.

Today I received a press release from a new "service" that allows you to watch movies online. FREE MOVIES ONLINE.



If you visit the page (which is actually hosted on a free Blogger account) you will be told that you can download free movies if you complete a survey. If you click YES then your browser will redirect to a "survey" that is in fact a SMS scam. The fineprint says:

"By signing up to this service and by entering your personal PIN Code which will be sent to the mobile phone number supplied by you on this website, you acknowledge that you are subscribing to our service and that you may receive marketing messages. All plans are subject to the Terms and Conditions. You may stop this subscription service at any time by sending a text message with STOP, to short code [removed]. Your phone must be polyphonic compatible, be Internet-enabled and have text messaging capability. You must be the owner of this device and either be at least eighteen years old or have the permission of your parent or guardian. Customers will receive the club at $5.00 three times per week plus one off club joining fee of $5.00. Standard/other text messaging rates may apply."

Now disable javascript and load the blogspot page and you can see it's actually just a collection of links to illegal download sites.

At $5 three times a week we have people being charged an average of $65 a month or $780 a year for those "services".

If you're lucky in some cases if you complain to your mobile operator then you might get a refund. But the operators are right in the sense that it's the user's responsibility for signing up for the "service".

But isn't about time our mobile operators cease any relationship with these scams? Isn't worth to have a happy customer instead of a customer that have been victimised under your watch?








Back to School: Better together

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Jul-2009 17:48

Back to school giveawaysThis is a heads up for our next big competition, running from August through September. This time HP, Microsoft, Timbuk2 and Synclables partnered to create a package prize perfect for students going back to school.

The Back to School: Better Together giveaway is brought to you by twenty five websites - each of these will have a prize bundle to giveaway.

What's in each prize package you ask? An amazing HP dv6 laptop with Microsoft Windows Vista, a very portable HP Mini 110 with Windows XP, one Timbuk2 backpack and Syncables software to make sure your laptops are always in sync.

We put together a website with lots of more details. Just 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.

Just in case you are curious, here is the roster with all participant sites and dates when you can enter their competitions:

Student Bloggers 12-16 Aug
Geekzone 13-17 Aug
Kill Jill 14-18 Aug
Study Successful 15-19 Aug
Gear Live 16-20 Aug
CampusGrotto 17-21 Aug
Poorer Than You 18-22 Aug
Notebooks 19-23 Aug
ThePrereq. 20-24 Aug
Hack College 21-25 Aug
College Times 22-26 Aug
OSNN.net 23-27 Aug
Green Panda Treehouse 24-28 Aug
Building Camelot 25-29 Aug
Mocha Dad 26-30 Aug
College Candy 27-31 Aug
Studenomics 28 Aug - 1 Sep
The 2.0 Life 29 Aug - 2 Sep
Geeks room 30 Aug - 3 Sep
Debt Free Scholar 31 Aug - 4 Sep
One Day One Job 1-5 Sep
Daddy Forever 2-6 Sep
Clinton Fitch 3-7 Sep
Zen College Life 4-8 Sep
Gear Diary 5-9 Sep

Good luck!



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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