My window to the world

The Acer Ferrari 5000 eighteen months later

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Jun-2008 17:18

About eighteen months ago (December 2006) I received one of the famous Acer Ferrari 5000 notebooks sent out to bloggers and journalists for a Windows Vista review.

Back then it came with a "Windows Vista Premium Ready" sticker. This is a kind of late - but well deserved short review.

I am still happy with the hardware. In terms of performance it is a great desktop replacement machine, with a Windows Experience Index of 4.8. After eighteen months I now find a couple of problems:

- it runs really hot and if I push the graphics (playing Titan Quest for example) then it will shutdown automatically after a while. The only way around this is to have a fan blowing cold air directly on the notebook while gaming;

- in the last couple of weeks it failed to boot - it shows the POST and shutdowns. I think it could be because it was inside one of those carry-on notebook cases and could possibly have been shaken too much while rolling down the airport.

As for the software, I ran the original Windows Vista 64 bit for twelve months on this machine, but one day I scheduled a boot time CHKDSK and it never booted. So I decided to install Windows Vista 32 bit in early January 2008 because I was tired of the lack of 64 bit drivers.

And drivers takes me to the real problem with this machine: Acer must have the worst support for their products - even for a top of the class notebook with a hefty price tag as this one.

The only drivers available for this notebook are the ones orignally distributed by Acer back in December 2006. Since then Acer have not released any driver update - eighteen months! - which means a few problems:

- I can't reliably use the Secure Digital (SD) card slot for ReadyBoost because for some weird reason the SD reader "sleeps" after a while. I reported this problem to Acer through their contact page and - surprise! -  never received a reply

- I can't reliably hibernate or sleep this notebook because it will wake up at the most inappropriate times, such as while inside the backpack, causing heat problems. This again is a driver problem

- I couldn't run some games because Acer never released an updated ATI graphics driver - I had to use a special hack to force the installation of desktop graphics driver on this notebook.

It looks like the first PCs running Windows Vista could run it - but just. I have here in my home office a HP Tablet PC and even though with Windows Experience Index 3.0 it seems to perform much better - except for graphics of course.

I think only now we are seeing PCs and mobile computers that are powerful enough for Windows Vista. The Ferrari 5000 runs it ok, but Acer never released the much needed "refreshed" drivers for this machine...

What about Windows Vista? Have you noticed I didn't actually complain about it? The operating system works well. Granted I keep complaining of too much disc access, but with Outlook 2007 running all the time I think it's only fair to say this would be expected.

The main problem was drivers, and seriously this wasn't a Microsoft problem. One year on after its launch I see we finally have PCs that are actually good enough for Windows Vista.

Windows Home Server PP1 Beta open now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Jun-2008 17:01

I have been part of the Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 private beta for a while, and I have to say it is solid. My Windows Home Server runs 24/7 for months without a reboot and it keeps our 2.5 TB of data safe.

Yes, it's a lot of data, but we have a few laptops and desktops around here, gigabytes of pictures and home videos and all duplicated for enhanced safety.

Power Pack 1 introduces a few new features and fixes, but most importantly it introduces a fix for a data corruption bug that could create problems if users were modifying files directly on the server shares.

The best new features? Support for PCs running Windows Vista x64, and backup of your Windows Hme Server shared folders.

Check the official Windows Home Server team blog for more information and how to get it.

You interview the CEOs...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Jun-2008 10:04

This week and next we will be running some special interviews on Geekzone - you ask the questions!

I've managed to get some time from the CEOs of our largest New Zealand telcos and you will be able to post your questions in our forums. After a week I will lock the threads and forward those questions to each CEO.

To start the process this week we have two CEOs - Dr Allan Freeth, CEO TelstraClear and Scott Bartlett, CEO Orcon.

You can ask questions to Dr Allan Freeth in this thread and ask the questions to Scott Bartlett in this thread.

This is a great opportunity to have your questions posted directly to the big guys!

Media companies-sponsored politicians want to make P2P and region free DVDs illegal...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jun-2008 08:27

This is what happens when companies lobby the weak of mind... An international treat is being worked behind doors to make P2P illegal - even when used for distribution of material you legally own, and more.

Lots of information on WikiLeaks.

"Wikileaks points out that the U.S. politician behind ACTA is Howard Berman from California, a Democrat whose top four campaign contributors for 2006 were Time Warner ($21,000), News Corp ($15,000), Sony Corp of America ($14,000), and Walt Disney Co ($13,550)."

Is this being discussed in New Zealand? Is our government participating on this "work"?

Great forum participation: Orcon and WorldxChange

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Jun-2008 15:20

This is one example of great forum participation: Orcon giving more information on why people are noticing performance problems on their broadband plans and what's being done to solve this.

We have seen this kind of participation on Geekzone from WorldxChange, Vodafone, New Zealand Communications and more on the quiet side Telecom New Zealand as well.

Well done Orcon!

Apple itunes movies in France, Canada and the UK - death of Media Center?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Jun-2008 08:02

Apple has announced their on-line movie offerings in France, Canada and the UK through its iTunes store.

There you go. How long before they do the same in Australia and New Zealand?

I currently use a Mac mini in the lounge, running Windows Vista Ultimate for its Media Center. But this can be quicky changed by simply setting a Bootcamp option and instantly revert to Mac OS. Or changing the OS may not be needed at all - but all the Mac OS eye candy...

Apple TV works with Windows Vista through the iTunes applications, so people don't even need to buy a lot of new hardware - a small box is all it takes to bring movies to your lounge. Forget about Windows Vista Media Center. There's a set top box that does it nicely - music, photos, video. Apple TV may be something interesting after all.

It is very tempting to avoid trips to a video rental store and download movies directly to your home theatre, over the Internet. Bring on fuel savings!

Microsoft is too U.S. centric and all their media offerings is always only available in the U.S. Add to this the lack of interest from content providers on Windows Media Center and it is a platform that may have its days counted now.

I wrote here before. In addition to having TVNZ on demand service as a browser application the developers should have worked with Microsoft to develop a Media Center add-in allowing people to watch those videos from their Media Center interface. But no, instead we are sucked into a browser - even though Media Center PCs have no keyboards and a beautiful user interface (and experience) that is not designed for that kind of interaction.

Microsoft is currently testing "Fiji", the next interaction of its Media Center software including a more robust support for DVB-T and HDTV. New Zealand, with Norway, is one of the very few countries using the H.264 standard for HDTV broadcast.

But is "Fiji" being tested here? No, if you are based in New Zealand the "Fiji" option is not available in the Microsoft's Beta web site.

Microsoft is really leaving consumer behind. Better rethink what you are doing - and think global...

Geekzone Pizza evening in Hawkes Bay

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jun-2008 08:17

Well it had to happen. With sucha success events as the Geekzone Pizza evenings in Wellington and Auckland, and a fully booked (yet to happen) one in Christchurch, we are planning a Geekzone Pizza evening in Hawkes Bay on 19th July.

It is likely to be held in Hastings.

We are currently workling with booking the venue but we have limited the event to 30 people this time.

As usual sponsors for the pizza, drinks and prizes pool are welcome - contact me for more details.

Please RSVP in the thread.

AMD at Computex 2008

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Jun-2008 15:31

I have some information about AMD's participation at the Computex 2008 in Taiwan and I am listing this here if you want to follow their announcements:

- A live broadcast 4th June 12:30am ET (check your timezone). The broadcast will be archived on the same page if you want to watch it later. Or you can watch it here (javascipt required):
- Pat Moorhead's blog.

- AMD Unprocessed Twitter feed.

- AMD Unprocessed Facebook page.

- AMD Unprocessed Flickr page.

- Short video clips with AMD and partner-related technoologies.

Apple Store bans teenagers for life (or not)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jun-2008 08:22

There are some reports of teenargers being removed from an Apple Store in Palo Alto and banned (or not depending on who you ask) from entering Apple Stores. They were caught trying to "jailbreak" the iPhone demo models.

The best story is Fake Steve Job's report on how those two "frigtards" were removed from the store - "frigtard" being a word Fake Steve Job uses a lot, instead of the heavier - sometimes more deserved - and not safe for work version.

From th Mercury News: "Earlier this week, the four teenagers said they were depressed about not being able to visit their favorite store again."

This reminds me of the local Telecom New Zealand store. Other day I was there waiting in line to get something done with my account (oh yes, porting out of Vodafone New Zealand to Telecom New Zealand) and noticed a PC available for customers to use.

Customers? Next thing I noticed is a bunch of schoolgirls getting up from a table in the food court nearby  - after getting their tummies full of delicious McDonald's burgers and fries and milkshakes and apple pies and soda - and just because they have nothing better to do they walk in droves to the store and start using the PC to check their Bebo pages, MySpace and whatever else they use these days.

And not a single one of them could even bother to say thank you to the people in store after they moved again, like a cloud, to the next stop.

"Please" and "Thank you" were dearly missed.

Ilium Software: eleven years

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-May-2008 11:30

I started using handheld devices when US Robotics created the Pilot organiser - the one that later turned into Palm Pilot, and so on.

The first software I ever bought for my handheld was Ilium eWallet - it stores information cards in a secure file, synchronises with a desktop, and more. And even after I moved to Windows Mobile years later, this is still the first software I install on any new handheld I get - Pocket PC or Smartphone.

Ilium is now celebrating its 11th anniversary with a week of promotions with prizes including Amazon gift cards, software and more. So check the Ilium Software blog from Monday (2nd June) through Friday (6th June) to find out how to enter.

They are also running a software sale during this period with 55% discount over their regular price. The link will be live on Monday as well.

Enjoy - I have enjoyed for over ten years!

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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