My window to the world


New Zealand is no Fiji - Media Center that is

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-May-2008 11:19

It looks like the Windows Vista Media Center beta, known as Fiji is now on. But it is not available to New Zealand users.

Here is some of the features that we expect to see in this update, according to the discussion on Geekzone:


1.  Get rid of all the registry mods needed for Vista Media Center Editio in New Zealand
2.  Tune Freeview DVB-S natively in Media Center Edition
3.  Tune Freeview DVB-T natively in Media Center Edition, including our dodgy AAC sound codecs
4.  Get the guide over the air, rather than having to use Bladerunner/Reven/ or others
5.  Have native muiti tuner support, which is easy to setup


Also is worth noting that New Zealand is one of the only countries in the world using the H.264 standard for their DVB-T HD broadcast. The other country is Norway.

And since this is not going to be tested here you can imagine how well this well end up...

Oh yes. Windows Vista Media Center was never officially supported in New Zealand anyway. So you can stop buying Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows Vista Home Premium.

Go get GB-PVR or Media Portal and run on any cheaper version of Windows instead.

And check our Freeview forum to see how to configure these to run in New Zealand.



iYomu to close site

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-May-2008 11:17

No surprises here: social networking site for "grown ups" iYomu to close.

Nothing to see here. Move along.



Speaking at the Interactive Marketing Summit

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-May-2008 09:05

Next Monday, 26th May I will be speaking at the Interactive Marketing Summit in Auckland.

My session will be case study session on "using customised blogs as a marketing tool" and we will explore my experience running the Microsoft-sponsored Visual Studio 2008 blog.

Other people speaking at the summit:

- Bernard Hickey (Managing Editor, http://www.interest.co.nz/)

- Paul Webster, (Senior Sales Manager, GOOGLE)

- Thomas Scovell (Interactive Marketing Specialist, SHIFT)

- Simon Young (Cofounder and catalyst, IJUMP)

- Jon Ostler (Managing Director, FIRST RATE)

- Jacqui Jones (Marketing Manager/Search & Online Marketing Specialist, NETCONCEPTS)

- Tom Osborne (Commercial Director, APN DIGITAL MEDIA)

- Tim Norton (CEO, PLAN HQ)

- Scott Giles (Online Marketing Manager, AIR NEW ZEALAND)

If you are interested in blogs and communities, check this iJump video podcast recorded last month. I met Simon Young while I was in Auckland and we had a chat about these topics - recorded for you to see.

Remember to register for the Interactive Marketing Summit.



The Geekzone outage post-mortem

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-May-2008 19:46

Some of you may have noticed a (brief) Geekzone outage (and therefore affecting this blog as well), on Thursday 15th May.

"Brief" is just a way of saying it. The event happened from 9:15am through 3pm, at which time the site was up and running again.

What happened on that day? At 9:15am I removed one piece of software from the server and rebooted it. I didn't see the server up in under ninety seconds as usual, so I called ICONZ's help desk, which confirmed the server wouldn't boot, thanks to an error while loading the operating system.

The operating system was not happy with a change in drivers, and wouldn't boot without the original DVD for a recovery session.

And just this week I had contacted the ICONZ team asking if they had a library on site that could hold my recovery discs. But before I could send these up disaster happened.

While on the phone with the help desk I went to the Air NZ site and booked a seat on the 11am flight to Auckland - a 45 minutes flight, plus a 30 minutes taxi ride to the data center.

Because this server was originally installed from CD and all the OS since the original install were installed from disc files, we didn't have a DVD drive on this machine. I asked the ICONZ help desk to arrange for a DVD drive replacement to be installed and also asked them to commision a virtual server on their ICONZ virtual co-location platform, just in case things got worse. They arranged this while I was flying up to Auckland.

By 12:30pm I was on site and after evaluating my alternatives I decided to reinstall the OS instead of using the Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery image recovery. The reason for that is because the software that caused the problem would still be in that image, so it wouldn't be any good for me. Also, this server was running Windows Server 2008 Enterprise RTM as an update to Windows Server 2008 Enterprise RC 0, which was installed on Windows Server 2003 R2, which was installed on top of Windows Server 2003.

So a fresh install would make things easier - and cleaner.

Lucky the probem showed up during a restart, so the SQL database was perfectly safe, since the drives were still visible. Using the recovery console I copied the SQL database files to an external USB drive and loaded it on my test  machine to make sure it was all perfect.

I then proceeded to delete and recreate the partitions on this machine - a small problem because those were dynamic discs with software mirror enabled and it seems Windows Server 2008 can't manage this well during the setup. To get around this I used a Windows Server 2003 bootable DVD to delete and create fresh new partitions.

With this sorted, Windows Server 2008 installed very quickly. Installing SQL Server 2005 was not a problem, and soon I had the Geekzone site up and running.

The next steps were to reload some extra software on this machine, apply the Windows Updates (which required lots of reboots due to having SQL Server 2005), and configure the Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery on this newly built machine.

By 6pm I was in a cab going back to the airport to fly back to Wellington. I spent most of Friday doing the last bits of configuration required, testing the backup routines to make sure everything was ok and so on.

The great thing here is that we had no data loss at all. We also had a daily backup to an external drive, plus a weekly backup to an off-site location via FTP. And yes, I do test the backup contents to make sure they are valid (and so should you).

I've installed Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery to replace Acronis True Echo Server, as part of a review and I am really impressed. It's easier to manage and has a much better disc space management consolidation routine, including backup rotation, storage consolidation, etc. And it also allows conversion of image backups to both VMWARE and Virtual Server formats. I didn't have to use it because of the decision to rebuild this server, but it is now running full time as the main backup routine.

Next steps?

A complete image backup is done and scheduled for daily incremental backups. The daily SQL Server 2005 backup is running, as well as the transaction log switch. The weekly backup to the off-site location is back in place and all software is up-to-date.

I will be recreating the recovery DVD images from this new system and shipping those to ICONZ so that we can have a faster recovery next time - without perhaps having to have me flying there.

A big thanks to the folks at ICONZ who arranged the extra hardware and commissioned the virtual server - which we wound up not using at all.

Also thanks to all the Geekzone users who contacted me - a few voice calls, some SMS, inumerous Twitter messages and support from the people in our #geekzone IRC channel - including the offer to drive around Auckland to ferry any hardware if needed.



Windows Live for Windows Mobile update

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-May-2008 17:55

So Microsoft has released an update for Windows Live for Windows Mobile. There's one bad thing though: if you install this over any previous copy you might have on your device you lose the Messenger functionality.

That's correct. It seems Microsoft leaves to the OEM or mobile operator to include Messenger on your Windows Mobile device.

This is wrong in so many ways. If I want Messenger on your PC - Windows or Mac - you can just download it from the web. My ISP doesn't tell me that I am not allowed to use Firefox on my computer to access an Internet service (http). Why should the operators have any say on this?

You can always use the web-based Windows Live Messenger Mobile on your mobile device but it is not the same as having the full client.



Geekzone is not a heavy homepage

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-May-2008 17:02

John Clegg (Zoomin, Projectx) has posted a series of tables showing the heavy and the lite New Zealand websites.

Lucky Geekzone shows up in the light sites list as #10 with a 97.2 kilobytes payload (not counting images) and eight JS files (mainly Google Analytics, Nielsen//NetRatings, Statcounter). The heaviest page in the list is vouchermate.co.nz site with 1.3 MB!

Check Jonh's blog post for lots of good information!



Thanks to Dell, another gigantic giveaway coming to Geekzone

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-May-2008 12:13

I am bit busy today and had planned to post some reviews but will have to do it tomorrow. In the meantime I will let you know what's happening next after the review is posted.

Dell sent me a Dell 1320c colour laser printer for review and giveaway on Geekzone. The printer is impressive and produces brilliant pages - sorry you know my review is going to say this but wait for more.

Now comes the surprise bit: we have not one, but three Dell 1320c colour laser printers to giveaway on Geekzone, so keep an eye in our main Geekzone RSS feed because the competition will be up soon.



IT Rockstar: I am one of the judges now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-May-2008 11:54

You may remember I posted about next week's IT Rockstar competition finale before. It is a promotion where top New Zealand IT professionals compete to reach stardom - some nominated themselves, others were nominated by felow IT pros.

It just happens that one of the judges declared a conflict of interest, since one of the finalists works for the same company as him - so I was called to fill in th judging position.

Since I was planning to attend the event anyway it sounds like a good fit. I am not familiarising myself with the finalists, their work and background.

The IT Rockstar final is next week, in Wellington and is being promoted by 920 - who just happen to have sponsored some prizes in our Geekzone Pizza evening in Welington and Auckland.



Geekzone Pizza evening - Auckland and Christchurch next

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-May-2008 20:04

When we decided to run a Geekzone Pizza evening in Wellington back in April (pictures) we decided to limit the numbers to 50 - and I had phone calls on the day from people wanting to join us. The prize list was incredible - and thanks to our sponsors (pizza by WorldxChange, beer by 3Bit and Google) it was a huge success.


We had so much fun that it wasn't hard to convince me to extend this to Auckland (26th May, fully booked) and Christchurch (5th July, almost full).

Again we have a healthy sponsors list and I will copy the current list here:


Auckland Sponsors:

Pizza: Telecom New Zealand is paying for the pizza.

Drinks: 3Bit and Sprite Software are sponsoring the drinks.

Prize pool:

920 Career Agents are bringing Guitar Hero Legends of Rock 3 (game and guitar controller) for PS3 and Xbox 360 (check their IT Rock Star promo).

iway Computer is giving away an AverTV Hybrid Speedy PCI-e DVB-T card.

McAfee is giving us a few copies of McAfee 2008 Total Protection.

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



Christchurch Sponsors:

Pizza: IT Maniacs is contributing towards the pizza.

Drinks: OnlineGroups.Net is 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).

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.


One of the cool things is that we have a few people that are actually attending all three events, flying around the country for the pizza, beer and company!

As you can see we still need some help in Christchurch - I am looking for companies interested in sponsoring the pizza (sharing with IT Maniacs) and drinks. You can contact me for more information - it costs way less than you think!



More tools you should have in your Admin Toolbox: Blade TS

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-May-2008 11:10

A few months ago I posted a few notes about tools I have in my servers that help me a lot. Today I will be posting about a file transfer tool, Blade Tranfer Services.

The idea is simple: you have large files and need to safely transfer these across your network or the Internet. You might even want to have your users to upload by themselves, but have their files going into different folders so that they are completely separate from each other.

In my case I needed to transfer a couple of large (20 GB each) virtual HD files back to my home server. Those VHD were created from an image of the Geekzone server drives so that I can have a copy here I can use for testing - and backup.


Blade Tranfer Services
 is very easy to install - it will automatically configure itself as a folder on your IIS server and start. You will just browse to /bladets and be greeted with a page with direct links to upload and download applets.

There is also a full client, but the web-based service is very good. You can pause, restart the uploads and you know for sure the files are 100% transferred - no corruption, no loss of data.

You can also enable a /drop folder so people can browse the upload folder directly - but the download option is much safer.

It uses http and https to transfer files and a configuration page allows you to change the default upload folder on your server and SMTP and SNMP notidications.

Recommended...



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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