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Geekzone Pizza evening update

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Apr-2008 12:43

The Geekzone Pizza evening in Wellington is happening tomorrow. It looks like a full house event (sorry, we can't accept more registrations as the venue is full!) and the list of sponsors and prizes is now huge (and attractive). Check it out:


Pizza: WorldxChange is paying for the pizza.

Drinks: Google and 3Bit are sponsoring the drinks.

Internet: APT will be providing Internet access through its AnyData RevA/WiFi router connected to the Telecom New Zealand network.

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).

ASUS is coming to the sponsors list with an ASUS Eee PC (Windows version).

BDT is giving us some Altec Lansing headsets (through the help of QuayCorp).

Campbell Software has given us a Zyzel P2000w V2 WiFi SIP Phone (through the help of QuayCorp).

Dell is participating with a Dell Photo Printer 948 printer/fax/copier/wireless.

Duo is providing us with some swag to giveaway.

Google provided a box full of swag to giveaway.

HP is providing a 120GB 5400RPM HP Personal Media Drive (through the help of QuayCorp).

Linksys is giving us a Linksys WAG160N (through the help of WorldxChange).

Microsoft provided some copies of its software to giveaway at the event.

Novell will be bringing some swag and software to the evening.

Philips is providing a Bluetooth stereo headset for our prize pool.

QuayCorp will have a couple of people attending and are bringing a Viewsonic vx2235wm widescreen monitor, a HP Deskjet F4185 printer to the prize draw.

Telecom New Zealand is participating with a couple of their mobile broadband express cards as prizes.

Vodafone New Zealand is providing us with an Express Card Mobile Connect Card (HSDPA, 3G) and a Blackberry Curve (through the help of QuayCorp).

We are planning to have a live stream if you can't make it this time.

I am thinking of doing a Geekzone Pizza evening in Auckland sometime in late May when I will be staying a couple of days in town. More details will be posted in our forums when we close the Wellington event. I also received an e-mail from a friend who has offered his help in organising a similar one for the South Island.

There is still time for your company to contact me and join this list - or to sponsor the Auckland event.

New Zealand government using wiki and social media to design Digital Strategy

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Apr-2008 12:34

The New Zealand government has asked us for comments on its Digital Strategy 2.0 - and the most interesting aspect of this update is the use of social media tools such wikis and blog-like comments on all sections of the discussion.

You should go ahead and read the NZ Digital Strategy 2.0, comment on the Draft, or participate in the Digital Strategy Wiki.

But you have to it quickly. Public consultation closes 12 May 2008 5pm.

9th Telecommunications and ICT Summit

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Apr-2008 12:02

I just received the confirmation of my registration to attend the 9th Annual Telecommunications and ICT Summit, this year happening in Auckland, 23rd June 2008.

The speakers lineup looks good and it is the main reason I registered to attend the Summit. We will have the Hon David Cunliffe (Minister for Communications and Information Technology), Maurice Williamson (Transport, Communications & Information Technology Spokesman, National Party of NZ) plus Keynotes by
Dr Paul Reynolds (CEO, Telecom New Zealand), Russell Stanners (CEO, Vodafone NZ) and Dr Allan Freeth (CEO, TelstraClear).

One of the sessions will even have Michael Wigley & Stuart van Rij talking about "Regulatory and legal landscape for telecommunications & ICT". Stuart van Rij is a friend of mine, solicitor at Wigley & Company - look for him for all things ICT and law related.

Econet, I mean NZ Communications is live

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Apr-2008 09:05

It looks like it finally happened. After years of promises and false starts, people are reporting another GSM network in New Zealand: NZ Communications (previously Econet Wireless) seems to be live in Auckland.

The reports in our forms are that NZ Communications is now accepting incoming roaming connections in Auckland.

It appears that it won't accept Vodafone NZ roamingon its network - I can't also find their official website even with all my "Google Mad Skills".

According to the companies website, in 27 March 2007 Econet Wireless changed its name to NZ Communications. At the time shareholders were ECONET WIRELESS LIMITED (London and Zimbabwe), HAUTAKI LIMITED (New Zealand) and KLR HONG KONG LIMITED (Hong Kong).

This post by Jama is an interesting view on a company launched in 2001 - it took them only seven years to get a cell site operational in Auckland.
During this time Telstra replaced its Australian CDMA network in record time with a fully operation HSDPA service covering the country, Vodafone has deployed WCDMA, HSDPA 2100 MHz and is right now finalising HSDPA 900 MHz deployment, and Telecom New Zealand announced its own EDGE/HSDPA network deployment to be fully underway in about one year total.

Some Freeview comments for newcomers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Apr-2008 08:43

A few weeks ago I posted a Freeview FAQ and so far it had a few numbers of readers, and still counting. There are still lots of discussions going on in our Freeview forums, and since a lot of people read my blog but don't visit the forums I thought it would be good to post some more information here.

Exactly what is Freeview HD? Freeview is the direction New Zealand broadcast is taking for its free to air channels - those channels you can receive on any TV without having to subscribe to a service. Freeview launched sometime ago as a sattelite (DVB-S) service covering most of the country.

But now it is coming with a "terrestrial" version (DVB-T) which will be initially available in the major centres and brings an even bigger change: high definition (HD) broadcasting.

The service has been in test mode for a few months and you can now buy the set top boxes from major retail stores. The first HD programmes shown in New Zealand was Boston Legal, on TV3. Other TV shows will be coming in this format, and soon some local content will be producted in HD.

What do you need for Freeview | HD? First you will need a receiver. It can be a set top box you buy from retails stores, or a Home Theatre PC (HTPC) with appropriate hardware and software.

You only need a HD TV if you want to see the HD content in full glory - in practice any existingTV will work and show HD shows in standard definition. In the future TV sets will come ready for Freeview | HD so you won't need an external set top box.

As for HTPCs, a warning! Not every "Home Theatre PC" will work 100% and not all those DVB-T cards and USB sticks in retail and auction sites will work without appropriate software.

For HTPCs you will need a state of the art rig, including a good video card, fast CPU and plenty of memory. The video card is an important piece of this, because the best ones will process the decoding on its own hardware, freeing up the computer's CPU for other tasks. If you don't have this combination you might have stuttering sound, synchronisation problems or poor picture quality.

You will also need software and codecs. The software that successfully captured Freeview | HD so far is GB-PVR (free), Media Portal (free) and dvbviewer. These are all for Microsoft Windows and at the moment we don't know of any software for Mac OS that can work with the local DVB-T flavour.

When you buy a DVB-T card or USB stick you should have in mind that most of those don't come with the software needed and you might have to purchase some software to use it. Don't trust people that say the card is 100% DVB-T compatible. It might be compatible with the DVB-T and HD flavour used in the UK or France, or Hong Kong, but the New Zealand service is so new many (if not most) of these cards don't have the software to support this, yet.

Today is the official Freeview HD launch in New Zealand. I will be attending the event (thanks Throng!) and will have the opportunity to get even more information about the service.

Telecom account support: stunning work there (not)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Apr-2008 13:24

I know it's a weekend, and it's great the Telecom support team actually worked on this request, but...

When I ported my Vodafone number to Telecom I asked at the store to use an existing account number I have with Telecom. They skipped that bit of my request, but that's ok - thought I could just consolidate the two accounts, since it's a lot of paper that comes every month for an account that is only $2.81/month (an old Xtra email I kept).

Anyway, instead of merging the accounts, it would be easier to simply skip the monthly paper statements and get it electronically on

So I added my mobile phone account - fine. Then proceeed to add the second account through a form request, which requires someone at the Telecom mothership to do for me.

Today I got a reply with these words:

I am unable to process this as the two accounts are in different customer names.

The Your Telecom service is registered via your customer number, you can have multiple accounts under the one customer number, and view these on the Your Telecom service under the one login.

The account number you have provide is not in the same name as your currently registered service, if you would like to view this account on your current login we will require the authority from the account holder to transfer the account and services to your customer number. This will mean you will become the owner of the line and be liable for any charges or changes made to the lines/services.

Both accounts have the same full name. Both accounts have the same address.

Most interesting there are two replies in the same e-mail. One suggests merging the accounts, the other says nothing can be done. Those replies came from two different people on the same case.

No, don't tell me to go back to Vodafone. First because I don't want. And second because it looks like it's an endemic problem with customer services in this country.

This takes me to the point... Customer Services in New Zealand is appaling. Most of the discussions on Geekzone are about customer services. Long wait times on hold, incorrect information provided, wrong service provided.

When are New Zealand companies going to wake up?

What O2 thinks of The Register and its readers - would it happen here?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Apr-2008 10:53

I read this discussion between two O2 PR people and had a laugh:

The discussion, between two in-house PRs, centred around how to paint those wanting more bandwidth than the 128Kb/sec O2 deems suitable as clearly being "a bunch of techie nerds".

Of course, these are communications professionals, so they wisely discuss how to avoid using that term, or as they put it, find "...a good way of saying they're all geeks".

I wonder which of the New Zealand telcos and ISPs have people working for them that think so highly of their customers.

I have one or two in mind. Your guess? Post in the comments.

Barcamp Mobile and Barcamp Auckland: mark those two in your diary now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Apr-2008 15:59

You have to mark these in your diary now: Barcamp Mobile, 25th and 26th April 2008, Offices of the State Services Commission, Molesworth St, Wellington.

This will happen at the same time as the Internet Identity Barcamp. I really recommend you attend this event if you are intested in any of those two topics.

The Barcamp Mobile will be of interest to anyone that live and breath mobile and wireless technologies: web, devices, hacking, services.

Another unconference event to attend is the Barcamp Auckland - 12th July, again like the first Barcamp Auckland in the Botany Downs Secondary College, Auckland.

The first Barcamp Auckland was great - unlike the Mobile Barcamp or the Internet Identity Barcamp, the Auckland Barcamp is not focused on a single area of technology and you will find lots of interesting things being discussed.

We saw 80 people attending the first Barcamp Auckland, and the organisers are looking at having 120 attendees this time.

Both Barcamp Mobile and Barcamp Auckland are happy to receive sponsorship.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 8: make your voice heard

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Apr-2008 09:27

Many of you might know Internet Explorer 8 is being released in full standards mode.

I have an opportunity to provide your feedback to the Microsoft team - but only a couple of days so this need to be quick.

I am looking for your feedback in those topics:

- what do you think of this decision?
- what is the impact you think this will have on your customer or developer experience?
- any recommendations on how to make developers aware of this?

I understand Microsoft is planning to contact some tech websites around the world, to distribute information about these changes, FAQs and other material. This is related to the third question above. Do you see this as an effective way of doing it?

Anything else I forgot? Post in the comments here or contact me.

Imagine Cup 2008 New Zealand results are in

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Apr-2008 09:18

I spent Thursday last week at the Microsoft offices in Auckland, judging the Imagine Cup 2008. This year's topic is "environment" and we had very good entries in the contest.

The judges were instructed to select three teams to go to the New Zealand finals, but we couldn't select only three - so at the end we agreed to select four teams to go through. You can get more updated information on the competition on the Microsoft NZ Student blog.

The teams are pictured below, in no particular order:

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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