My window to the world

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, 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 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.

The 31 Days of the Dragon badge

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Apr-2008 15:09

Ok, here is our badge for the 31 Days of the Dragon competition:

31 Days of the Dragon

You will see it in our Geekzone frontpage and our Geekzone forums pages. If you click it you will go to the hub site with links to all participating websites - and remember we will be running our competition from 29th May through 5th June - this is the period you will be able to enter the competition on Geekzone to win one of the 31 HP HDX Dragon packages.

Building on-line communities

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Apr-2008 20:15

Wow... Thanks Ben Kepes for these kind words!

...It’s interesting to note the number of high level executives from New Zealand Telcos who spend time on Geekzone - sometimes the discussions there challenge them but better to be challenged and know what the market thinks than to exist with a “head buried in the sand” attitude.

...I agree entirely - Mauricio, whether you call him ambassador or figurehead or whatever of Geekzone, is front and centre as the leader in terms of direction and strategy. Similarly Richard McManus over on ReadWriteWeb.

Thank you everyone who reads my blog and follow Geekzone - for your help building Geekzone up over the years was most valuable.

All the best to everyone!

The 31 Days of the Dragon contest series: where to enter to win one of 31 HP HDX Dragon Entertainment laptop

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Apr-2008 08:45

The 31 Days of the Dragon is a promotion between 31 participating web sites (including our own Geekzone), with the sponsorship of HP.

HP is working with those websites offering 31 prize packages - one a day for 31 days during a period from 09 May through 08 June 2008.

Each participating website will have its own competition with its own prize, each a HP HDX Dragon Entertainment Notebook loaded with features and software.

The HP HDX Dragon comes with Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit) and is powered by an Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor X9000 (2.80GHz, 6MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB). Other features include 20.1" diagonal WUXGA High-Definition HP Ultra Brightview Widescreen (1920x1200) 1080p, 4GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm), 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS, HP Imprint Finish (Dragon) + Fingerprint Reader + Webcam + Microphone, Intel PRO/Wireless 4965AGN Network Connection and Bluetooth, 500GB 5400RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive (250GB x 2), Blu-Ray ROM with SuperMulti DVD+/-R/RW Double Layer, Integrated HP HDTV Hybrid TV Tuner and 4 Altec Lansing speakers with HP Triple Bass Reflex subwoofer, and 9 Cell Lithium Ion Battery.

The entertainment notebooks will come with these software titles: Microsoft Office, Corel PaintShop Pro X2, Corel Painter Essentials, Corel Ulead Video Studio Plus  11.5, Symantec Norton Internet Security.

For the gamers in us the winners will receive the following games: Viva Piñata,Microsoft Flight Sim, Microsoft Flight Sim Expansion Pack, Gears of War.

And since this is an entertainment beast, you will enjoy the following Blu Ray movies out of the box: Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End.

The total retail value of each of these prizes would be over US$5,000 - and there are 31 to be won!

Each of the following websites will run a seven day contest between the following dates:

02 May - 09 May
03 May - 10 May
04 May - 11 May
05 May - 12 May
06 May - 13 May
07 May - 14 May
08 May - 15 May 
09 May - 16 May
10 May - 17 May
11 May - 18 May
12 May - 19 May
13 May - 20 May
14 May - 21 May
15 May - 22 May
16 May - 23 May
17 May - 24 May 
18 May - 25 May
19 May - 26 May
20 May - 27 May
21 May - 28 May
22 May - 29 Mau
23 May - 30 May
24 May - 31 May
25 May - 01 Jun
26 May - 02 Jun
27 May - 03 Jun
28 May - 04 Jun
29 May - 05 Jun
30 May - 06 Jun
31 May - 07 Jun
01 Jun - 08 Jun

Note that each will run their own competition, so there will be different rules for each site. You should visit each site and look for more information there. If there is no competition information live yet, then please visit the sites again later between those dates in the table.

You can see this same information and any updates on The 31 Days of the Dragon. You will also find an OPML file and links to RSS feeds from all thoe sites.

We will have our competition page on Geekzone with the appropriate instructions. Our plan is to run a month long competition page so you have more time to enter it. Stay tuned - subscribe to our RSS feed so that you don't miss this opportunity, or keep visiting Geekzone.

This competition comes thanks to HP and BuzzCorps.

Monday morning you will find out more about this prize pool...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Apr-2008 19:01

This is going to be really cool. We will see a winner, every day for 31 days. Literally thousands of dollars of prizes and I think you will like the prizes.

Come back Monday morning to find out more.

UPDATE: Here you can read more about the 31 Days of the Dragon.

New VFX advanced VoIP services

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Apr-2008 12:40

I have just posted in our Geekzone forums about the upcoming VFX advanced VoIP services. Worth a look if you are considering porting from your current telecommunications provider to this VoIP service, like I did late in 2007.

We haven't had copper here at home for some time now, all coming down through the most excellent TelstraClear cable modem service (except that they want to charge a fortune for a 25 Mbps service!) - and then we ported our phone line to WorldxChange VFX so we do everything over the Internet here.

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.

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 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.

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