My window to the world


If you are a teacher in New Zealand you have one day only...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-May-2008 13:22

To submit your entry to the Unisys Kidz Connect programme.



Twenty successful teachers will each be given a $1000 cash grant to spend on a programme or project of their choice.

The programme is open to all fully registered teachers working in New Zealand’s state, integrated and private primary and intermediate schools (Year 1- 8), of any decile and location.


Submissions are accepted until Friday 9th May 2008.



Geekzone is a Hitwise No1 Award Winner!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-May-2008 12:32

Loading... I am pleased to say Geekzone has received an award from Hitwise - during 2007 Geekzone ranked #1 on market share of visits among all New Zealand websites in the News and Media - IT Media industry segment.

Add to that the exceptional Nielsen//NetRatings numbers - month after month Geekzone has been #1 in unique browser for total traffic for a New Zealand-based website in the Technology segment - and I can only be happy.

Really folks - thanks to you!



Microsoft 2.0 is out

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-May-2008 16:02

I haven't read the book yet - and no this is not an affiliate link drop. Microsoft 2.0, by Mary Jo Foley is out now. I might have to use some of my Amazon gift vouchers and grab a copy.


On July 1, 2008, a new chapter begins for tech-industry giant Microsoft. On that day, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates will no longer be involved with the daily goings-on of the company he founded more than 30 years ago. Microsoft's official message is that nothing will change; it will be business as usual. But as anyone who has studied Microsoft knows, a Microsoft without Gates participating in product reviews and articulating Microsoft's strategies and priorities is going to be a very different company.

This is a book about Microsoft's future, not its past. The coming years will be challenging ones for the Redmond software kingpin. Many of the executives currently leading the Microsoft charge are likely to go their own way. Technology will continue to advance at a breakneck pace. Microsoft will forge deals of the size and scope it previously never envisioned in order to keep pace. Foley doesn't claim to possess a crystal ball, allowing her to predict flawlessly what Microsoft plans to do in the next few years … or even few months.



No viruses in your future...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-May-2008 12:13

What a clever piece of marketing - so cool I had to post it here, with the appropriate link love of course.

Today I found this plastic bag in my letterbox:



These are the instructions:

i. Do not open
ii. Place in warm loctions for 2-3 days
iii.visit www.____viruses.org.nz to find the cure (fill the blank with the letters that appear in the petri dish).

So, yes you have to visit http://www.zeroviruses.org.nz/ to find out what this all about.

No, ths is not a bacterial culture. It's just cheese mould according to the instructions in the back. But very clever.



Speaking at Gen-i "Real Good Conference and Awards"

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-May-2008 12:50

I am in Auckland today and tomorrow to speak at the Gen-i's Real Good Conference and Awards. I will be talking about "new technologies" in a keynote session and later I am running a breakout session.

This is an internal conference for their technology people. Really good attendance here.

Tonight we have a special dinner, including Telecom and Gen-i CEO Dr Paul Reynolds - and yes I am still trying to get an interview with him, but more on this later.

If you are attending this conference look for me around the floor today and tomorrow.



Want to try mobile e-mail? Telecom NZ offering free mobile data for one year

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-May-2008 16:07

I just got the news that this promotion has been approved in the last few minutes and here is the breaking news: you buy an Okta Agent Windows Mobile smartphone, sign up for 24 months with a Telecom to FLEXI Business or Team Builder mobile voice plans and get the new Okta Agent Free Email plan - one year of free mobile data for e-mail usage!

Basically it is one year of free data for POP/IMAP and Exchange ActiveSync - while you are in the 24 month contract and using the Okta Agent - you can check our Okta Agent review here.

You can also use this data for downloading attachments from your e-mail server and of course a bit of light browsing - perhaps a link you receive on an e-mail for example.

The device is not to be used as a modem for laptops, servers, etc - and a fair use policy applies. For what I've heard this will be monitored, but most people using POP/IMAP and Exchange ActiveSync would be pretty safe. This is from their FAQ:


Some examples of where your usage may be considered excessive and/or unreasonable are if you use your OKTA Agent:
  • For sending and receiving extremely large email attachments like TV shows
  • To watch TV programmes or download other streaming media - video or audio
  • As a modem to download email or surf the net on your home computer
  • For peer to peer data sharing (BitTorrent for example)


All FAQ and Terms and conditions are in the Okta Agent Free Email plan page. This is available from today, although you may not see anything in stores until next week - but you can ask around, the channels should know all about it now.

Great idea Telecom!



The King of Kong comes to New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-May-2008 11:06

Today I got an e-mail telling me the documentary The King of Kong will be part of this year's New Zealand International Film Festival 2008. It is a story of gamers trying to capture the world record in a few classic arcade games.

Read The King of Kong synopsis to find out more...

It sounds fun - I might have to check it out. The screening schedule is not ready yet, but you should find more information in the festival website later.



Windows Mobile update distribution is broken

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-May-2008 20:12

I really like Windows Mobile. And I enjoy using it. But the update distribution model is simply broken. Microsoft gave too much control to operators.

The software requires operator certification and testing for network compliance every time it is updated, which delays things. The whole design should be more modular.

There's a "Windows Update" feature introduced with Windows Mobile 6, but Microsoft lost the opportunity to make it an effective way to distribute updates.
 
An example? The whole Daylight Saving Time problem, with the U.S, Australia, New Zealand changing the dates this year.

A lot of people didn't know there was a manual update available for these devices, and at the begin and the end of the DST period I've heard a lot of complains about appointments with wrong time on the devices.

This is something that shouldn't requre manual intervention to be installed and should require operator approval either. Automatic Update would be the answer. Even if limited to when connected via ActiveSync, to limit mobile data usage.

Then there's the whole OS update thing. The Okta Touch for example. It's the HTC Touch, CDMA version. FCC ID is NM8VOGU100. Sprint sells it. Other CDMA operators sell it. It's just a different branding. The ROM is customised, but it is the same device.





But when contacted, Telecom New Zealand says this is not the same device. And says there's no update available for it.

People want CDMA EVDO Rev A. And people want the built-in GPS.

Sprint is even getting an update to Windows Mobile 6.1. They have already updated the device for CDMA Rev A.

What's Telecom doing?



Ponoko moves to the U.S.

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-May-2008 17:52

And it happened. When I met Dave ten Have at the Kiwi Foo Camp he was looking for some office space to establish Ponoko in the U.S.

Ponoko was launched at the TechCrunch 40 conference bac in September 2007, but the guys have been working on that for a couple of years.

Basically it is user-generated product manufactuting and distribution. Really cool idea.

Here is part of their press release sent out today:


Ponoko gets greener with U.S. global head office
New Zealand company Ponoko today announced the establishment of a new global head office and manufacturing facilities in San Francisco as the website gains traction among U.S. users.

“Being able to make products on-demand, close to where people live, reduces waste and cuts down on the carbon emissions associated with transporting products to consumers. Our facilities in San Francisco mean that we’re starting to see this become a reality in the United States, and the appointment of Graham to our board of advisors is a huge endorsement of Ponoko’s vision for a more sustainable approach to the way goods are created, made and delivered,” says Ponoko co-founder and CEO David ten Have.

Ponoko is the world’s largest marketplace for product plans. The website works by connecting designers with consumers to share, buy, sell and make these designs into individualized goods, on demand.

Since launching, Ponoko.com has attracted a wide range of product plans for items ranging from household items and accessories to jewellery and wearable art. Today Ponoko also launches a new website that showcases these designs, and enables consumers to purchase products and plans directly from designers and makers by credit card or PayPal.

“The new website features make it even easier for people to buy and sell truly unique products using Ponoko,” says Ponoko co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Derek Elley, “and continues the growth of a new class of business people using the Internet to design, sell and make digital product plans into real goods, on demand.”



They say over half of the U.S. visitors to Ponoko.com are from California, moving to San Francisco would be only logical.

Good luck guys!



Vodafone NZ SIM locking

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-May-2008 09:47

Yesterday I got a tip that Vodafone NZ started SIM locking their handsets.

Vodafone had never locked their handsets in New Zealand, but I guess the idea of having competition from NZ Communications and Telecom New Zealand coming later this year is something that frighten them.

I agree that SIM locking handsets could be a smart move, if the operator provided the phones with significant discounts. There's no confirmation that Vodafone NZ will discount locked handsets.

Operator in Europe offer handsets at very low price when locked. Or even free.

As it happens, currently being the only GSM operator in the country, sell their handsets at very nice prices (for them), with no subsidy at all, regardless of contracts being signed or not.

In other countries SIM lock is used a lot - even though in the U.S. it is legal for users to unlock the handsets at any moment.

In general we expect an unlock code to be issued at the end of a contract, or if the customer pays a fee.

There's a discussion going on Geekzone now about this, and as it stands there's isnt any official information from the company. Total silence.

We have no idea if Telecom NZ or NZ Communications will SIM lock their handsets. But we are still months away of seeing their networks commercially available - Telecom NZ is said to launch their GSM network in November 2008, meaning Vodafone NZ has started locking their customers six months ahead of the competition.

The good old days of "no contracts, no locked phones" are gone from this country.

UPDATE: This is now confirmed.



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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