My window to the world

TelecomOne un-conference day 0

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Oct-2008 21:56

And I am in Warkworth again, for another un-conference. Warkworth is home to Kiwi Foo, the New Zealanda version of Foo Camps, organised by Nat Torkington.

It is also home to the first TelecomOne unconference event.

Today we had the introductions, long conversations, dinner and the first sessions. I decided to attend the session "What is the broadband problem?"... Very interesting getting to konw the point of view from Telecom employees and other users in general.

I am right now checking my e-mails and RSS feeds, while some people are playing werefolf, drinking single malt and talking. Next to me is Ben Kepes, who writes a blog about SaaS and is an editor at CloudAve. also here is PlanHQ's Tim Norton. Lots to learn and share...

Small ISPs should work in niches - and differentiate themselves

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Oct-2008 00:01

After reading pages and pages of rants about users being affected by heavy downloaders in another small ISP, I've posted this reply:

Folks, reading these pages again made me think of one solution: increase the prices.

Seriously, while I'd love to have cheaper Internet access (believe me I don't) money is still a natural way of filtering customers.

Small ISPs should differentiate their services by quality and value added services. For example Telecom offers Flickr Pro (US$24.95/year) and McAfee Internet Security (NZ$95/year) free with their services. WorldxChange offers a good VoIP service and it seems it had good services.

Why I am saying that? It has become clear that smaller ISPs can't compete with large ISPs in terms of price because of scale. When they offer good price they sacrifice something - and most of the times this goes into quality of service. which for many (if not everyone here) is speed.

The reality is that the price charged seems not to accommodate plans for expansion and those are very slow and spaced in between.

For a small ISP the solution would be to work in "niches". Either offer services only for high download users (or have separate "circuits" just for those) or charge more and offer a premium service for "normal" users.

By charging more they would obviously scare away heavy downloaders that would move to "Go Large" type of plans where there are no limits, but speeds are not so great - two things that don't worry that many heavy trafficers.

On the other hand users paying more would do so in the knowledge that this extra price is the guarantee they get a speedy service.

Why do you think large ISPs have small allowances like 40GB/month? Because then they start charging dearly, making sure heavy downloaders go somewhere else.

Seriously, how many of you would pay $150/month for a fast service? And that's exactly how much it costs for 10Mbps services on TelstraClear's cable modem service, with a 80 GB allowanc. On the other hand "slow" episodes on this network are mostly due to some fault and not because of contention.

I guess this post is more of an observation on small ISPs practices than agreeing with the rants in this thread.

We are talking about managing a scarce resource. Some large ISPs could even have different resource pools for each niche. That's what Telecom did with Go Large.

When Go Large was "unleashed" people were attracted by the "unlimited", which in PR speak meant "no caps". Even people who really didn't need the "unlimited" and would comfortably be served by plans with 20GB or 40GB caps decided to go for Go Large - just in case.

Telecom created a niche plan, with its own pool of resources. The only problem was that it was badly implemented and the solution adopted to "prioritise" packets was broken. Since no one seemed to be able to fix it Telecom decided to gandfather the plan - it's no longer available and whoever is in it could change to another plan, etc, etc.

So while the implementation was bad, the idea was good. If you are a heavy downloader get into a "no caps" plan, but share with others. On the other hand they offered a range of more expensive plans more suitable to "normal" users.

But those "normal" users decided to use the Go Large plan, because it was cheaper, not because they needed the "unlimited" - so the idea of using price as a filter didn't quite work right?

Well, perhaps because Telecom came up with plans such 1GB, 5GB and 10GB as "premium". Who in their right mind would get a 1GB plan? Only newcomers to the Internet, that  soon realise that 1GB or even 5GB is nothing really these days and afraid of paying too much in overuse decided to go for the unlimited plan -even though they didn't need it.

And a lot have changed in the last two or three years since. We can easily see Apple releasing 400MB updates for their OS. If you have a couple of iMacs at home then there goes your month's cap.

People are using Apple iTunes to download legal movies now. TVNZ launched TVNZ OnDemand. TV3 released their news on the web. People watch Campbell live on the Internet after the program finishes because it's a more convenient time.

People even download - gasp - one or two "illegal" movies a month. Nothing like the heavy downloaders, but certainly now the 10GB plan is not a good thing.

People started migrating from ISP to ISP. The ISP of the day was the fast one. The news of a fast ISP spread quickly, and soon it was overloaded, and the cycle starts again. Like grasshoppers.

Then we have the WorldxChange experience. It's not done yet, but they decided to create a "soft niche". I don't know exactly the technical side of it, but the idea was to create a "virtual resource pool". They've done that by creating a plan that charged a bit more for day traffic, but made evening traffic free.

So people flocked to WorldxChange. But we then found out that heavy downloaders really don't give a damn to other user's access to resources.

And now people move from this to the next ISP.

Perhaps WorldxChange should have created a complete different pool, including different network access and routes?

What do you think?

Ensure your kids are safe on the Internet

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Oct-2008 16:29

Today I had my weekly lunch with Microsoft's Darryl Burling and we talked about kids' computing. He tells me his oldest daughter just got a laptop - and her own e-mail account as well as a Live Messenger account.

We then moved the conversation to the dangers of having kids on-line without proper supervision.

TelstraClear provides an interesting website with information about cybverbulying and tips on how to prevent your kids being victims on-line.

One of the tips is to have a family computer, in a shared location so you can be aware of what's going on. But since you can't be there all the time, and most of these new computers are highly mobile, what can you do?

Enters Windows Live OneCare Family Safety. Add this to the Windows Vista Parental Controls and you have a solution to manage your kids' activities on-line.

It is actually really cool. You can filter the web sites they visit, provide safer e-mail, IM, and blogging with contact management - including built-in contact approval so you know who your kids are talking to on IM, e-mail, or their blogs. You can even approve or reject each new contact for their Windows Live Messenger,

The best thing? Windows Live OneCare Family Safety is free and works on Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista.

And yes, this came up today, and soon after I found out the Apple New Zealand newsletter touches exactly this subject. It looks like Mac OS X implements some Parental Control, but it's not as extensive as the OneCare Family Safety package.

XBOX Live planned downtime

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Sep-2008 16:18

I just got this in my Inbox, and decided it was interesting to spread:

The Xbox team is hard at work getting ready for the launch of the New Xbox Experience, coming to Xbox 360s around the world later this Spring. In order to prepare to bring you new features, games and experiences the team is going to need to take Xbox LIVE offline for a short time. On September 29 Xbox LIVE will be unavailable from 8.01 PM and will restart at 7:59 PM on September 30.

These are New Zealand times, please adjust accordingly...

A new Geekzone server

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Sep-2008 12:38

Last Friday we got delivery of a new HP server for Geekzone. The new server is a HP DL360, based on an Intel 5400 quad-core 3GHz with 10 GB RAM, four 146GB HDD, and remote management.

To power this new box we will be installing Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008.

Because our hosting provider is just finishing up a new datacentre it will be a couple of weeks before we have it up and running. The current box, a three year old machine based on an Intel Xeon dual-core with 3 GB RAM and two 70 GB HDD will stay in service, as a development/staging server.

I can't wait to have the new server up and running...

Everything you wanted to ask Freeview...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Sep-2008 15:55

I've just opened a discussion in our Freeview forum on Geekzone where you can post your questions about the Freeview broadcast service.

Freeview will be answering your questions and we will post the replies to start a discussion on that.

With time, if people show interest we could even schedule a live on-line chat. It all depends of your participation.

If you have been living under a rock, Freeview will become the standard open to air TV broadcast standard with satellite (standard definition) and and terrestrial (high definition)  services.

SQL DB? No firewall? Weak admin password? That is a trojan coming your way alright

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Sep-2008 08:06

According to the Symantec Security Response Blog, a new trojan called Trojan.Eskiuel is going around infiltrating SQL servers and causing havoc:

This time we have found a new SQL threat: Trojan.Eskiuel. The main functionality of this threat is to scan the Internet to find machines with poorly configured SQL servers (i.e. with weak or non-existing passwords), gain access to them, and use their stored procedures in order to download new malware from a remote host.

Check your servers...

Tech and autographed gear for auction on Trade Me - help the Auckland Under 15 Boys Basketball team

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Sep-2008 16:41

Last night I've go an e-mail from Steve Graham, GM at Fronde AKL, also the coach of the Auckland Under 15 regonal basketball team.

In short Steve managed to get the support of some companies (Google, Microsoft, HP, Vodafone, Samsung, Kodak) and people (Hamish Carter, Dilon Boucher, All Whites) to a special "tech gear auction" to raise funds and help the Auckland's Under 15 Boys' Basketball Team to attend the National Championship in Rotorua.

There is a 60 GB Google Flip, 30 GB Microsoft Zune, HP iPAQ, autogaphed items, Family pass to Rainbows End and much more. 

So if you are looking for tech and sport memorabilia, check the tech gear auction or search for "under15bball" on Trade Me.


New Zealand broadband according to Akamai

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Sep-2008 16:47

I have just noticed the Akamai State of the Internet report Q2 2008 is out now. Interesting stats from around the world - worth reading it.

From a New Zealand perspective here is the only data provided:

- more than 962,000 uniqye IP addresses, a 3.78% increase from Q1 2008, about 0.23 per capita (or about 1 for almost four people here);
- only 2% connected to Akamai servers at 5 Mbps or more - 0.01 "high broadband" per capita;
- 52% connected to Akamai servers at 2 Mbps or more;
- 10% connected at 256 Kbps or less.

My Zero G flight experience: the pictures

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Sep-2008 14:42

In my previous post you can see a short video with my Zero G flight experience. I have now uploaded some of the pictures to my Flickr Zero G set:

freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
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.

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If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me 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.

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