My window to the world


Geekzone #blackout

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Feb-2009 10:36

It is the 23rd February 2009, Monday morning in New Zealand and our local readers will notice that Geekzone (alongside with hundreds of other New Zealand sites) is redirecting to this blackout page instead of the normal frontpage you are used to see. This will last until about midday.

We joined those other websites to protest against the New Zealand Copyright Act S92a, which comes in effect 28th February 2009 and allows ISPs to cut Internet services to any user accused of downloading copyrighted material.

Note that this is not the same as fair course of justice. ISPs are required disconnect the service from users that are repeatedly accused of infringing copyright without any trial.

While I support copyright, I am not capable of supporting a law that denies the accused side any form of defense.

You can read more background information here here, and here.

I was told by the CEO of a large New Zealand-based ISP that costs to make its company compliant with this new law was already running around $500,000. This is to create the required infrastructure to deal with incoming copyright infringement notices, investigation, etc.

You can imagine smaller ISPs will not have this kind of money around so in such cases I expect a very quick disconnection procedure, so they can avoid any costs.

This is not good for New Zealand development. Many small and medium business will be affected by this law due to the required policies to be put in place, plus the cost of monitoring, warning, etc.

I recently joined a manifestation by the Parliament steps, where MP Peter Dunne received a petition against this draconian law. I've posted pictures on Flickr.



Blackout manifestation against S92a pictures on Flickr

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Feb-2009 17:16

I've uploaded all my pictures of this movement today at the New Zealand Parliament steps against the S92a.



More information at the Creative Freedom Foundation website.



The (RED) mouse

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Feb-2009 17:24

This is for people following me on Twitter to answer the question posted there:



UPDATE: The (RED) mouse is gone to a new home now. Congratulations @slyall...



Geekzone will join the Internet blackout

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Feb-2009 21:04

On Monday 23rd February 2009 New Zealand readers will find Geekzone and other local websites and blogs completely black during certain times of the day.

We are doing this as part of the Internet Blackout campaign to protest against the upcoming copyright laws that will virtualy remove users' rights when it comes to due course of justice.

You can find more about this on Juha's excellent post about S92a.



The Internet in New Zealand is under siege - join the resistance now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Feb-2009 16:51

The Internet in New Zealand is under siege - join the resistance now and help fight S92a.






HP Mini Mi Linux screenshots and pictures

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Feb-2009 10:01

I now have the HP Mini Mi for about a week. What's so interesting about it is that HP made it really easy for people to use Linux by providing a very cool homescreen and the main tools people use.

Of course if you are a Linux type you can always hack things into it - or even if you are not (like me) you can still move around quite comfortably and get things done (for example I managed to get the Telecom 3G USB modem working with a couple of scripts and some editing).

This is really my first Ubuntu machine here (we do have a couple of Mac around the house but I mostly work on Windows boxes) so it is been so far really interesting.

I've walked around with the HP Mini Mi in my backpack (which is now feeling quite empty since this is a small laptop) and the people who saw it so far are quite interested - this includes a couple of friends of mine who would use this kind of laptop while on the move, and even my parents-in-law who travel quite a lot and have been complaining of the size and weight of their own laptops.

The Mini Mi follows the Mini Note in style, except that this time it comes in all black, with a beautiful stylish finish on the cover.




The HP Mini Mi is running Ubuntu and uses HP's own repositories hosted by Canonical to provide applications - but you can always add your own repository list to it of course.

I got the version running on a 16GB Sandisk SSD and it's really nice and fast - booting is quick, while suspend and resume work really well. Another interesting features is a recessed USB slot, that can take special USB drives that will fit flush inside the body of the laptop - additional storage without those USB drives hanging from the side of your laptop. Very clever.

The keyboard is really nice to use thanks to its size - keys travel light and a good length too. The screen opens ok, but I wouldn't mind if I could tilt it a bit more.

Below are some screenshots of the standard user interface. The all too common Windows key is replaced with a HP key that will always bring you back to the home screen. Check it out:



























Wellington City Council: Citizenship online

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Feb-2009 15:19

This morning I was looking through some blogs and found a link to an on-line petition, hosted by the Wellington City Council.

I didn't know Wellington residents can discuss and influence local plans on-line. And looking through the WCC website I found a very fresh press release that tells me they even have forums!


04 Feb 2009 Wellington City Council has launched two new online tools - a budget simulator and a discussion forum - that give Wellington residents an opportunity to have their say on how the Council should best prioritise spending while keeping rates rises to a minimum.

The Council's Citizen Engagement Director, Wendy Walker, says the new tools are part of a range of initiatives designed to help canvass the opinions of Wellingtonians as the Council prepares to develop a blueprint for the city for the next 10 years.

"With the global economic downturn, our city is facing a lot of tough spending decisions - so it's very important that we hear the views of as many residents as possible on how we can keep what's great about Wellington while making sure rates stay affordable."

The discussion board features online forums for each of the Council's seven strategies - urban development, environment, transport, economic development, governance, social and recreational, and cultural well-being - as well as a general forum for the Council's 10-year plan for the City (Long Term Council Community Plan or LTCCP).

"People will be able to click through to the forums and leave comments about our proposals under each strategy - while also giving a 'thumbs up' or 'thumbs down' to indicate whether they agree with the comments that other people have posted," says Wendy.

For more information about the Council's long term plan, and to access the new online tools, visit the Getting Involved section on the Long Term Council Community Plan 2009/19 web pages or phone (04) 499 4444.



Not only this, but the WCC makes a few RSS feeds available, including latest news, citizens' views, current on-line petitions and more.



Think Small and solve problems

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Feb-2009 08:20

What about pausing a bit from complaining and helping find a solution for those small problems? That's what ThinkSmall seems to allow people to do, through a web-based crowd solution finder platform (yes, these are made up words to describe it).




It comes from Tim Norton and the crowd behind Made From New Zealand - if you are registered with Made From New Zealand then you can use the same login at ThinkSmall.



Web browser wars and Geekzone numbers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Feb-2009 12:06

This morning I got an email from tech journalist Chris Keall, who was looking for some updated information about our Geekzone traffic. More specifically he wanted to post an update on a web browser market share story he wrote for NBR a few months back.

I've sent the information on his way and he posted "Microsoft browser share hits record low" on NBR.

Interesting numbers for Trade Me (I guess a more mainstream kind of audience) and Geekzone (a more tech savvy audience).

Here are the numbers from the article:


TRADE ME (January 09/Nielsen NetRatings)
Microsoft Internet Explorer: 72.27%
Mozilla Firefox: 19.84%
Apple Safari: 3.83%
Google Chrome: 1.52%


A hardcore tech audience puts Geekzone visitors ahead of others in their departure from IE – though Microsoft’s browser still leads. Firefox has gained 2.6% since NBR last checked in during October, while after blazing to nearly 5% on its debut, Google’s Chrome has remained static.


GEEKZONE (January 09/Nielsen NetRatings)

Microsoft Internet Explorer: 46.03%
Mozilla Firefox: 40.61%
Google Chrome: 4.60%
Apple Safari: 4.54%



To add a bit more information I am posting here some data from our Google Analytics for the month of January 2009:

Visits
Total visits January 2009: 739,689 (+8.29%)

Geographical distribution
United States: 24.81%
New Zealand: 23.90%
UK: 10.48%
Canada: 3.92%
Australia: 3.69%

Browsers
Microsoft Internet Explorer: 46.03%
Mozilla Firefox: 40.61%
Google Chrome: 4.60%
Apple Safari: 4.54%

Operating Systems
Windows: 89.89%
Mac OS: 5.95%
Linux: 2.61%

Windows
XP: 63.24%
Vista: 32.28%
NT: 1.56%
Server 2003: 1.40%
2000: 1.13%

Networks
Telecom Xtra: 6.15%
Comcast: 2.62%
Road Runner: 2.62%
WorldxChange: 1.92%
Vodafone/IHUG: 1.84%

These are numbers that raise interesting questions and comments. For example almost 46,000 visits from people using Telecom Xtra every month. Also note about 14,000 visits from people using WorldxChange and 13,500 visits from Vodafone users.

This is interesting because WorldxChange was for some time the darling around our forums. People used to recommend their services all the time - until they apparently oversold capacity and started having communications problems. Once people started complaining in our forums WorldxChange pulled out and stopped talking to customers here.

Telecom New Zealand has a shadow presence - lots of employees lurk around but no official participation, although I always receive official comments when I bring questions to them.

Vodafone is the one doing best with a couple of "official" people lurking the forums and answering questions.

Another thing to note is the high Firefox usage amongst our readers. This is probably because of our tech savvy audience.

And lastly there's a huge number of U.S.-based visitors to Geekzone. I'd like to see more New Zealanders visiting the site though, mainly because we have a wealthy of knowledge and solutions to local problems.

What do you think? Do you run a website? What kind of numbers you see? How can we increase local traffic?



Those small TelstraClear problems start to annoy me...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Jan-2009 19:20

And obviously a few others (1, 2) agree there is a problem somewhere with TelstraClear network and services.

It actually looks like there is a few problems, not only one... 

To start the Paradise DNS seems to be out of sync a lot of times, and I've experienced errors trying to access some domains that are resolved correctly when using the Clear DNS - both Paradise and Clear DNS maintained by TelstraClear. I thought this could be something to do with the times, but I know of a couple of domains which are not updated on the Paradise DNS even after a couple of months.

Worse, if one tries to use something like OpenDNS then some of the IP returned are simply not accessible though TelstraClear. For example if you try to access Facebook when using OpenDNS and connected through the TelstraClear cable modem service then you will experience timeouts. It seems the IP returned by OpenDNS is not what TelstraClear expected to have when accessing tha domain and the whole page load just stalls with lots of timeouts.

Another problem is the following message that shows up sometimes for entire domains:

Network Error (tcp_error) The Web Server may be down, too busy, or experiencing other problems preventing it from responding to requests. You may wish to try again at a later time.
It seems to indicate TelstraClear has a badly configured or badly performing transparent proxy. Sometimes just refreshing the request solves the problems, sometimes it happens multiple times during the day.

UPDATE: It appers other people have this problem with DNS also.

UPDATE: I have passed on some of the faults to a TelstraClear network engineer.



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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