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Checking your mobile data usage online is not easy: a Telecom New Zealand tale

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Jul-2008 17:30

Yesterday I posted about Telecom New Zealand's lack of a "meter" for their mobile data. Here is something that I thought would illustrate the issue well...

Let's say you rent a car on a monthly basis, for work. You agree to pay $49.95 a month if you drive up to 1,000 km per billing cycle, and $1 per km after this.

You decided on 1,000 km because you thought this could cover your average daily usage multiplied by the number of days in the month.

You get the car and notice there is no meter in it, but the rental agency tells you it's ok, they are monitoring it within their system, remotely.

You drive away. During 30 days you have no exact idea of how many kms you've done. You have to keep calling the company to find out how many kms you have driven so far, and calculate to see if you are still within the expected average.

Then you receive the monthly bill. You look through five pages for something that says "kms driven this month", but instead you find "times you started the car this month". And a charge for the rental.

Does it make sense?

No. Neither does Telecom New Zealand's "data sessions" line in the bill. They don't tell us how many megabytes or gigabytes we used during the month, only how many times we used it during the period.

Telecom, are you going to fix your systems?

Checking your mobile data usage online is not easy

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jul-2008 20:24

Isn't that incredible that Telecom New Zealand can charge my mobile data usage every month but it can't provide a simple way, other then calling their help desk every day, to follow my usage?

They are able to put a $$$ amount in my monthly bill, but I can't find my usage in data terms (megabytes or gigabytes) anywhere on the invoice or on-line.

They use a very cryptic "data calls" unit that means nothing to me.

Telecom New Zealand makes it really hard for me to control my usage. And they charge dearly if I go over my limits.

Vodafone is a bit better in this area, but their on-line meter is frequently outdated or incorrect according to discussions in our forums.

In Australia the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a warn to consumers regarding mobile data usage.

What about here? TUANZ? Commerce Commission? Anyone awake and aware that we have overpriced data plans?

Vodafone Data Wahehouse: the summary translated

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jul-2008 20:49

A few days ago I posted about a Teradata Partners Conference, where Vodafone's Rachel Harrison will be speaking about Vodafone New Zealand's user retention project.

If you are not attending the conference, you might want to read a summary posted by Lance Wiggs here. Worth it for the translation of "business speak" to "real world speak".

Orb helping Women's Refuge - and you can too

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Jul-2008 13:10

This is a worthy cause Orb Communicatons is working on. The company has announced a partnership with Women’s Refuge that will see women that Refuges are working with, given second-hand mobile phones pre-loaded with airtime credit. 

This is a New Zealand-wide initiative, which also encourages Kiwis to recycle their old mobile phones. The effort begins during the Women’s Refuge Annual Appeal Week, 21-27 July, and will continue indefinitely.
If you have any old mobile phone you can drop in at any one of Orb’s 40 stores around the country.  Orb technicians will refurbish the phones so they’re in good working order before adding airtime credit and giving them to their local Women’s Refuge. 

Of course if you do not have an old mobile phone lying around then you can still donate money at the collection boxes in store at Orb as part of the Appeal Week.
From the press release I received today, it looks like the Ministry for the Environment estimates there are up to one million unused mobile phones in New Zealand. 

Live Mesh...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Jul-2008 12:55

Arghhh. I have installed Live Mesh to see if it would keep both my notebooks in sync. I decided I would give it a try because I can believe this is something that doesn't work out of the box (oh, wait this is a feature I want in "Consumer OS").

Anyway, since the update Live Mesh allows me to install the software on Windows Vista SP1 with no UAC requirements and allows me to sync folders directly between peers, I decided it would be worth trying it.

Hello, developers! Here's what's not working:

I have three folders I want to sync: My Documents, Pictures, Temp. Total is about 20 GB. So I made an exact copy of these folders on my second notebook and just for testing I enabled Live Mesh sync on Temp.

What was I expecting? That Live Mesh would be smart enough to look at the files, create a hash code and decide both folders are already in sync.

What it really happened? Live Mesh asked if I wanted both existing folders to be in sync, which I confirmed. And it started downloading 2 GB from Temp on my master notebook.

I am glad I did not enable this on Pictures or My Documents.

The folders are already in sync. Just accept it and go on with life, for goodness sake. We don't have unlimited bandwidth for initial synchronisation - and we don't need initial synchronisation if the folders are already the same.

I have submited this is a fault through the beta feedback form, but in the meantime I am back to Goodsync and the manual process.

Vodafone and data warehousing at the Teradata partners conference

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Jul-2008 10:33

If you want to learn about "The Customer Retention Journey at Vodafone New Zealand" you may well go outside New Zealand.

More specifically Vodafone's Rachel Harrison will be speaking at the Teradata Partners User Group Conference & Expo, happening 12 - 16th October in Las Vegas. Worth reading Rachel's summary for this session.

I got the information about this event today and it says

The conference is organised by the Teradata PARTNERS Steering Committee, and is the world’s largest annual data warehousing and enterprise analytics conference and exposition. The conference theme is “Beyond Intelligence” and occurs as Teradata marks its one-year anniversary as an independent company.
In more than 200 sessions, the event will focus on industry-leading and innovative practices in creating powerful data infrastructures for competitive business advantage.

The event is expected to attract about 4,000 participants from companies in every industry.  The keynote speakers are Dan Ariely, MIT professor, economist and author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, and Lance Armstrong, world champion cyclist, cancer activist and author of  It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. Teradata Chief Executive Officer Michael Koehler will speak during the opening session Monday and Chief Technology Officer Stephen Brobst will make multiple presentations during the week.

It looks like an interesting event for business intelligence users and practiotioners.

Free beer - as in beer

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Jul-2008 21:35

I am back home now after an interesting evening where we all got to taste the Armageddon. I met lots of local technologists and bloggers, plus beer lovers, thanks to Epic Beer.

From there a few (myself, Alan and Stuart) walked to the always good Nicolini's for some Italian food and lots of geeky talk.

Some very entertaining tweets during the evening. Epic Beer's Luke is doing a great job of using Internet-based social networks - the back of his business cards lists their addresses on Google, YouTube, Facebook, FriendFeed, Flickr and Twitter - and Luke is an avid Twitter user.

Telcos should not generate or own content

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Jul-2008 15:11

Quick comment on Vodafone moving away from the confusing "walled garden" model and getting into the "charge $1 a day for up to 10 MB" casual data plan coming up in a couple of weeks: well done, about time!

Operators should have realised a long time ago that people see them as bit movers not content owners and creators.

UPDATE: Someone pointed to a related post with more information you can absorb. Good one Lance - I like your comment "As soon as they enter the content game then they are competing against the entire internet - and that’s a game they will lose."

The PDA is back!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Jul-2008 10:13

Todd Ogasawara wrote something interesting about the value of a phone less device and I will expand:

1996: No one wants to type on the tiny keyboards on Windows CE Handheld PCs.

1997: Everyone wants a tiny keyboard (RIM).
2002: Everyone wants a smartphone with an operating system and user-installable applications.

2004: Everybody wants a phone and no one wants a PDA.

2007-2008: Apple decided that a physical QWERTY keyboard really wasn't needed after all. They also decided that user installable applications were not important (as of 2007).

Todd goes on to say he wants to be connected but not all the time - so instead he's got an Apple iPod touch, which allows him to browse the Internet and check his e-mail when he wants, and not when things are pushed.

Come to think of it, the Apple iPod touch is the same old PDA back in action...

TelstraClear says it is all fixed

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Jul-2008 22:55

TelstraClear sent a letter to their customers:

You have been receiving a credit for your broadband service over the past few months whilst we upgraded our network.

Our network upgrade is now complete with services now returned to normal. We will be removing your broadband credit from the 1st August 2008.

And this is a chart on my connection speeds from the isposure service, provided by Epitiro:

This is supposed to be a 10 Mbps connection. Ironically the lowest point in the chart is exactly the same day TestraClear says everything is working fine again. FAIL.

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Mauricio Freitas
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.

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