My window to the world


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.



I am a high volume e-mail deployer, says spammer

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Jun-2008 11:00

This is just too funny... "I am a high volume e-mail deployer. What we do is not spamming. It is high volume e-mail sending. We send one hundred million e-mails a day. People look forward to receiving e-mail. People call us, e-mail us 'We didn't get an offer today, what did I miss?'..."
Thanks to Shoemoney for the video upload.



You interview the CEOs series continues

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Jun-2008 08:21

Last night I closed the discussion forums where users posted questions to Dr Allan Freeth (CEO TelstraClear) and Scott Bartlett (CEO Orcon). I have collated all questions and forwarded these out for these CEOS to answer.

I will post an update with the answer as soon as receive them.

This week we have another telco CEO available for Q&A. Cecil Alexander, CEO, WorldxChange will answer questions you post in our forum.

It will be the same style: you post the questions in the forums, I will select ten or more questions and forward to Cecil.

This is part of a series of "You interview the CEOs" opportunities I am bringing to our users. Keep an eye here or in our Geekzone forums - more to come!



Vodafone $1 a day mobile data plan

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Jun-2008 22:03

Earlier today I posted about Trade Me's new mobile website and commented that this could be the game changer for mobile data usage in New Zealand. I wondered just if we would see any movement from mobile operators.

I only had to wait one hour, and here it is, a discussion about Vodafone's new $1 a day mobile data plan, including comments by Vodafone's man on Geekzone, Paul Brislen.


From July 28, customers will be able to surf the net, download music and games and play on their favourite sites without committing to a fixed monthly data contract.

The $1 a day casual rate gives customers up to 10MB of data – more than enough for most casual users on their mobile devices. Customers who go over that limit will be charged at $1 per megabyte and users who regularly need more can take advantage of our suite of data plans.

The new pricing is simple and affordable, and now applies to almost all internet data, including the Vodafone Live! portal. Sky Mobile TV and Vodafone Compass will continue to be free of data usage costs.


This mean the walled garden may become a thing of the past. It also means more people will be able to realise what mobile data can do for them - Trade Me is the largest web site in New Zealand, generating at some point about 60% of the national data traffic.

Telecom is already doing something in this area, with their "unlimited" mobile data for e-mail, but it is only for a specific phone model, but Vodafone is going a step ahead.

Anyway, a good step in bringing down data costs for the rest of us.



Auckland unleashes CCTV on you

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Jun-2008 14:49

I just received a press release where RoamAD, Kordia, Advanced Security Group Ltd and the Newmarket Police say how great it is that Wi-Fi CCTV security cameras are being deployed in Auckland's Newmarket suburb.


"CCTV helps prevent crime and also detect offenders and save evidence after crime has been committed. The wireless CCTV network not only enhances security over property but also greatly improves security for the people in and around Newmarket – shoppers, visitors and staff of the businesses operating in Newmarket,"’ said the office in charge of Newmarket Police, Wendy Spiller.

The monitoring personnel and street patrol units work in concert to hunt out potential problems and take action in full view of the cameras before an issue escalates.

"We are able to act on anything undesirable almost immediately. The monitoring personnel can focus and zoom the cameras on any problem area from within the police station, while simultaneously talking to a security patrol out on the streets. Images from the cameras are recorded and stored 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are immediately available to the Police,"’ said Newmarket Business Association general manager and project leader, Cameron Brewer.

"It’s a truly unique public-private partnership that has never been done on this scale and with this level of technology ever before in a New Zealand town centre," added Mr. Brewer.


This would be great if recent studies of CCTV programmes in London (UK) had not shown that CCTV are an invasion of privacy more than an effective security measure.

CCTV does not stop crime:


And researchers found that some of the schemes were botched, making them less effective. Six of the 14 control rooms were left unstaffed for part of the day or night. And in some cases, cameras could not capture clear images at night due to the glare from artificial lights.

The findings come as a blow to the Home Office, which has trumpeted CCTV as a key crime-fighting weapon for the past 10 years.

The report's author, Professor Martin Gill of the University of Leicester, said: "For supporters these findings are disappointing. For the most part CCTV did not produce reductions in crime and did not make people feel safer."

The only one of the 14 schemes found to be a success was targeted at car parks, where it led to a significant drop in vehicle crime. Other schemes in city centres, residential areas and hospitals produced no clear benefits.


CCTV boom has failed to slash crime, says police
CCTV doesn't reduce crime in UK
CCTV Frequently Asked Questions

What would you suggest? Do we need a nanny state? Do we need a surveillance police state?



Mobile Trade Me errors

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Jun-2008 14:24

It's just been released folks, be gentle. Don't overload the Mobile Trade Me server or you will see this message:



Mobile Trade Me live now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Jun-2008 14:15

Some of you asked for this and here it is... New Zealand's largest web site has now a mobile version: Trade Me Mobile is live now.

The mobile version provides users with the expected features, including watchlist, listed items, sold items.

You can view details for listings, including description, photos, the Q&A section - and you can place your bid right there too.

Just a couple of errors with the usual "We have been notified of this error" message appearing when you click the Home link though. Workload too much?

Now I can see mobile Internet taking off in New Zealand...

The next question is to the mobile operators: where is the really affordable mobile data plan for the rest of us?



3 News says goodbye to WMV, hello to Flash video

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Jun-2008 10:28

For some time now we have been carrying links to 3 News video site in our Geekzone forums. It is a good deal for both of us: we list their latest technology video news and they link back to our Geekzone latest news from their technology pages.

This is what it looks like in our forums:



I haven't seen this in the mainstream media, but last week 3 News changed their site in many ways. First it moved from the old tv3.co.nz domain to the 3news.co.nz domain - a bit more descriptive of what it is about. This move leaves the tv3.co.nz domain for the TV business and 3news.co.nz is all news.

Also they have moved away from the Microsoft WMV format into a more widely accessible FLV format. I am sure this will help reaching a wider, more tech-savvy readership that prefer to use a browser other than Internet Explorer or even a non-Windows platform for their browsing habits.


The project took some time - I was notified of the changes a couple of months before it actually went live, and I was curious to see what would be coming out of that. It's a good result - clean and a much faster than the older domain.

It seems they have a partnership going with TelstraClear's new ClearNet portal - I can see ClearNet advertising on 3news.co.nz player and pre-roll media, and ClearNet has links and ads to 3 News (hey we are in good company then!).

I asked Siobhan McKenna, GM for Networks at MediaWorks New media division about this change and here is what she has to say:


The site includes  an emphasis on breaking news, much greater category depth, flash video and the ability for users to contribute news video, audio, stories and to comment on almost everything. TV3 has also made a substantial investment in its web architecture.  
 
As well as investing in infrastructure, MediaWorks has also boosted up its on-line editoral team, allowing then to take better advantage of the company's extensive media assets.
 
"Our editorial team now includes specialists in the areas of  Politics, Sport, Business Lifetstyle/ Health and Entertainment..When we add these specialists to the  award winning 3 News team, Radio Live , NZPA, as well  content from users I think we have an unrivalled offering. "
 
"Quality Video is always going to be our advantage over other websites and we are proud to say that we get breaking news video onto our site faster than anybody else" said McKenna.



Congratulations Sandi on joining TRUSTe

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Jun-2008 14:27

One of my Australian friends, Sandi Hardmeier has joined TRUSTe as an Online Compliance Researcher.

I've met Sandi many times around the world - a couple of times in Seattle for the Microsoft MVP Summit, a couple of times in Las Vegas during the CES, in Singapore for a Microsoft Windows Vista Lab, and somewhere else I can't remember.

From the official press release:


Ms. Hardmeier is a recognized and widely sought after industry expert in the field of malware and malvertizing and their impact on consumer privacy and security. She will play a key role in TRUSTe’s development of improved network monitoring strategies while providing customers with expert insight and recommendations to combat existing and emerging Web threats such as spyware, computer viruses, and other types of malware.

“Sandi has been studying malware since 2000, and has watched its metamorphosis from simplistic, easy to remove adware into the sophisticated crime-motivated products we see today,” said Fran Maier, executive director of TRUSTe. “Sandi will help us build our expertise in the important intersection between online trust, privacy and security.”

Sandi has been a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) since 1999, specializing in Internet Explorer and Internet Security as it pertains to business and consumers. She also has an array of published work and is the author of www.msmvps.com/spywaresucks (a Web site dedicated to teaching Internet users about the latest risks to their online safety and how to stay safe when surfing the Web); http://www.ie-vista.com/ (dedicated to providing technical support to users of IE7 and IE8); and http://inetexplorer.mvps.org/ (dedicated to providing technical support to users of IE6 and earlier).


Well done Sandi! See you around...



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.

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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.

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