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The Geekzone Pizza evening in Christchurch: thanks to sponsors

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jul-2008 15:54

This weekend I am flying to Christchurch where I will be meeting some other Geekzone users for our Geekzone Pizza Evening Christchurch Saturday evening.

If this even goes like the ones in Wellington and Auckland it will be a success! It is Thursday only and we know of some people from Auckland who are already in Christchurch (or rather they flew in this morning, got a car to visit Queenstown and back Saturday). Some of the Wellington people are flying this Friday too, so I am sure everyone will be ready for a weekend of fun with the local Geekzone users.

Again, we couldn't do it without the help of our sponsors, so here is the list... Make sure you visit their websites to see what they are up to:


Pizza: Jobx is sponsoring the pizza.

DrinksIT Maniacs and OnlineGroups.Net are contributing towards the drinks.

Prize pool:

McAfee is giving us three copies of McAfee 2008 Total Protection.

Microsoft NZ is giving us three copies of Windows Live OneCare and one copy of Windows Vista Ultimate with SP1.

Quay Corp is giving us a Targus laptop bag to giveaway during the event.

PC Gear is giving us a Logitech G15 keyboard, two Kingston 2GB Data Traveler USB drive, and Ages of Empires 3 Gold Edition (including War Chiefs expansion).

Snap Internert will be present and giving two Internet Packs (Linksys WAG54G router plus six months Snap Advanced ADSL)*.

Symantec is giving us a copy of Norton Internet Security 2008 and Norton Antivirus 2008.

The big prize for the evening will be a Xbox 360 courtesy of PC Gear. To get the winner started Microsoft NZ is throwing some games: Mass Effect, PGR 4 and Viva Pinata Party Animals.


Although this event is fully booked, we still have some space left for the Geekzone Pizza Evening Hastings - and yes a lot of people are flying up to the Hawkes Bay for that one too!



Attending the Intel Developer Forum Fall 2008

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jul-2008 18:18

Cool, here is one conference I haven't attended before and just got invited by Intel - the Intel Developer Forum Fall 2008 in San Francisco, 19 - 21 August 2008. The transport and accomodation is being provided by Intel.

The agenda looks good and the guest speaker looks like fun. Anyone else from New Zealand attending the event and in San Francisco for drinks and dinner?



You Interview the CEO first answers are posted now...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jul-2008 11:37

I have just posted the articles with the first CEOs to answer our readers' questions. You will find out more about Orcon directly from its CEO Scott Bartlett and learn about TelstraClear from its CEO Dr Allan Freeth.

Many thanks to our readers who posted questions - and many thanks to these CEOs for taking the time to answer us.

I am working on some other CEOs to be up to the challenge soon.



Updated and correct link to AMD Tech Day 2008 summary

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jul-2008 11:01

Ooops. I just realised the link to the AMD Tech Day 2008 summary was incorrect in my previous post.

Here it is, the correct one: AMD Tech Day 2008 Summary.



Air New Zealand Airpoints trouble rules...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Jun-2008 11:14

What a shame. Air New Zealand improves in some and makes the stupidest rules for other.

The good stuff? Their cabin manager now comes around the Air New Zealand Koru Lounges before boarding for international flights, introduces him/herself and even come back later to take us to the plane.

The bad stuff? Their loyalty program actually is everything but about loyalty.

For example I had a ticket Auckland - Los Angeles - Wellington. The electronic ticket was issued in Premium Economy but I used some of my upgrades to use the business class. Great stuff, all worked well so far.

Once I landed in Los Angeles I took another flight to Austin and back. The flight back from Austin to Los Angeles was with US Airways, a Star Alliance partner. As such I entered my Air New Zealand Airpoints number to claim some points. What a mistake!

You see, even though these tickets were not issued by Air New Zealand and not even in the same booking, Air New Zealand automatically reverted the 130 points I earned for each of the long haul flights and credited me with less points.

They say that if any Star Alliance flight is taken during 30 days of my Air New Zealand flights and if they decide these Star Alliance flights are part of my original journey, they will give me less points - less points on a full fare Air New Zealand ticket issued in separate!

Now the kick in my low area: Air New Zealand reduced the points by more than the Star Alliance points they gave me for the other flights. Which means these points will make it harder for me to keep my Gold status or go down to Silver status.

This, with the fact that cheaper domestic fares receive zero points is just another example of how Air New Zealand wants to destroy loyalty.

What a shame.



AMD Tech Day 2008

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jun-2008 15:10

I am now waiting to board the plane to fly back to New Zealand. I just got enough time to post the summary of my visit to AMD's new "Lone Star" campus in Austin, TX.

Just the summary for now, I am uploading some pictures when I am back in New Zealand. Some very interesting information about upcoming mobile platforms from AMD...

UPDATE: The link is now pointing to the correct page.



Good Telecom GSM roaming experience

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Jun-2008 12:21

When I decided to port my mobile phone number from Vodafone NZ to Telecom NZ the only thing that really worried me was voice and data roaming. How would this work? Would it work at all?

Then I found out Telecom had its own SIM cards for people to use with any unlocked GSM handset while overseas, instead of the more limited CMDA models available and I thought "why not then?"

Why not indeed. Before leaving home I inserted the Telecom SIM card in one of the i-mate Ultimate Windows Mobile devices I have here because those are quad-band GSM, EDGE and HSDPA devices. I also configured the data connection following the advice in this discussion.

And everything worked as expected - which means a great experience after all.

I turned the phone on in the LAX airport and almost instantly I had a connection to T-Mobile's EDGE service. Data roaming worked without a hitch, with my e-mails flowing to the device, quickly. My Twitter updates worked both via Fring as well as Internet Explorer mobile and everyone is happy.

Of course I could just as well get the Samsung CDMA Worldmode (which is both a GSM and CDMA device in one) and use it but it would be GPRS roaming only - and with the wrong GSM band for some places.

In all, with the right handset, Telecom has done really well. Good job. Now to use a T-Mobile Hotspot here at the airport, because that is still the cheapest option around here for mobile data.



Telecom New Zealand outsourcing retail business reorganisation

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Jun-2008 14:02

According to the TUANZ blog:


Telecom is to outsource a contract to reshape its retail business to Indian company Tech Mahindra, a creation of British Telecom


Now I don't mind outsource of some functions. But how can Telecom New Zealand be sure their new provider knows what are the needs and requirements of the average kiwi consumer?




The mobile data roaming... scam?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Jun-2008 13:25

Ok, perhaps scam is too strong a word to use, but it really feels like a ripoff these days. I am about to spend next week attending the AMD Tech Day in Austin, TX and as usual I start looking for options to keep up with e-mails, IM and maps on my smartphone while overseas.

Until recently U.S. operators didn't offer an mobile data plan on prepay - forcing us to use the super very heavily expensive data roaming options from both Vodafone and Telecom New Zealand if a cheaper option such as Wi-Fi wasn't available.

Just so that you have an idea, Vodafone charges $10 per megabyte you use while in the U.S. if you are connected through AT&T or $30 per megabyte if connected to T-Mobile. Telecom New Zealand charges $12 per megabyte.

This is an absurd amount of money per megabyte and simply makes it almost impossibe for small companies to use mobile data as an effective business tool while overseas.

At last now you can get a data plan on prepay through AT&T. For US$19.99 a month you can buy the "MEdiaNet Unlimited" pack and even have it charged to your prepay balance. This is a 30-day unlimited Internet access through EDGE or 3G to their data services.

A couple of years ago I was attending the CES in Las Vegas and arrived in the city about 11pm. Not having Internet on the apartments and not wanting to go out hunting for Wi-Fi I used my (then) Vodafone SIM to access e-mai. That evening cost me about $600. Next morning I found out th McDonald's downstairs had Wi-Fi at US$1.95 per hour.

New Zealand companies would have to be dumb to give money away to mobile operators when a local SIM card option is available with unlimited data.

At least locally the operators are moving to a more acceptable price plan, with the latest Vodafone casual data rate and Telecom's free data with certain mobile handsets.



Rate your ISP - or a new kind of speed test

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Jun-2008 12:25

One of the most used tool in our Geekzone forums seems to be Speedtest. People use it all the time as a measure of performance on their connections - although many have said this is not completely accurate.

Research company Epitiro - which just released its first report on the state of New Zealand broadband (and discussed here on Geekzone) - is running a beta test of isposure, an interesting measuring tool that allows users to measure their Internet service, compare with other people's results in the same ISP, plan or region and even rate their ISPs in different aspects such as reliablity, customer services, perceived speed and value for money.



The service runs as a small application in your Windows-based PC, measuring different aspects of your connection at different times of the day when the connection is idle.

From their FAQ:


As an isposure user, you can access free, personalized reports on the isposure.com website from your Windows PC. (Sorry, we don't have a Mac compatible service yet). Compare the recent performance of your connection with the average performance of other local ISPs.


You may find that you could get a faster connection with another ISP. You may also find that you can get a lower cost connection with similar actual performance. Or for just a little more each month, you may be able to dramatically improve your service.


By registering some basic details about the area in which you live, isposure can show you reports comparing your connection to those of other users in your local area, city or region.


isposure is provided free to you. We provide performance data to Epitiro Technologies - the independent Global Broadband Performance Authority and the developers of the isposure application. They in turn analyse the output and provide the resulting performance reports to Broadband ISPs who are prepared to pay for the information. This information is exclusively limited to performance data and does not, and will never, contain any private information about users.



I am running it now and got some surprising results. You can download isposure now.



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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