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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:





Do you have any questions about OOXML? Ask the team

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Apr-2008 08:03

I have the chance to post some questions ot the Microsoft Office team in Redmond about the OOXML standard, its approval and more.

If you have a question for the team please contact me and I will relay it. I post the answers here in my blog.



Professional Conference Attendee

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Apr-2008 21:08

I work full time on Geekzone. But a lot of people still don't know and ask what do I do... Here is the truth:

Professional Conference Attendee


(click for larger version)





Geekzone Pizza evening is full

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Apr-2008 20:14

While chatting in the #geekzone IRC channel we decided it was time for Geekzone users to get together again for some geek talk, dinner and drinks.

As soon as we decided on a date we had people sending SMS, IMs and Twitters to friends, booking flights to Wellington and soon after we announced the Geekzone Pizza evening in our forums we knew this would be big.

Well it is big. We are happy to announce we have now reached our self-imposed limit (and the venue capacity) of 45 confirmed people.

I am also happy to announce that a few companies joined us to sponsor this evening. So here is the list (a couple more may join later and I will update the post, but these are the confirmed ones at the time we closed registrations):

The first to come on board sponsoring the pizza is WorldxChange!

Then in alphabetical order:

3Bit will be present and is sponsoring drinks;

ASUS is giving an ASUS Eee PC (Windows version) away;

Dell is giving a Dell Photo Printer away;

Google is sponsoring drinks - and expect some Google swag on the night;

Microsoft is giving away a couple of copies of Windows Vista Ultimate with SP1 and some other software;

QuayCorp will have a couple of people attending and are giving a Viewsonic vx2235wm widescreen monitor and a HP Deskjet F4185 printer away;

Telecom New Zealand is giving a couple of their mobile broadband express cards away.

As I said, we have a couple of still unconfirmed sponsors, and when or if they confirm I will update this post.

If your company wants to sponsor this evening with a prize, please contact me. I am sure you would get great exposure from this ;)



Windows XP for Asus Eee PC and others: guaranteed until 2010

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Apr-2008 19:56

Asus has just announced the Eee PC with pre-installed Windows XP and th big question came up: what's going to happen to these little machines, since Windows XP is supposedly being retired from this year?

Microsoft has just announced something that will help this new class of small computer keep running for a few more years - Microsoft has announced that it will extend the availability of Windows XP Home edition for this emerging type of computer referred to as an ultra-low-cost PCs (ULCPC).

The extension will run until either 30 June 2010 or one year after general availability of the next version of Windows – whichever is later.

Of course people will ask "what about Windows Vista?". It all come down to requirements it appears. According to David Rayner, Microsoft NZ Windows Platform Marketing Manager:


While Windows Vista provides many benefits, including an easier and more secure user experience, Windows XP Home edition provides an effective solution on these emerging devices from a performance and cost perspective.


ULCPCs are a new and growing class of mobile computers designed for customers interested in complementing their primary Windows-based PCs with additional, lower spec’d computers. These machines vary, but typically have smaller screen sizes and lower-powered processors than more expensive mobile PCs.



Is Telecom New Zealand going to release Windows Mobile 6.1 for its devices?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Apr-2008 16:16

Microsoft has announced Windows Mobile 6.1 and I was curious to find out if Telecom New Zealand has any plans to release this updated mobile OS for its devices - the HTC Titan, the Okta Touch and the upcoming Samsung Ace.

All these devices have equivalents on Sprint (Mogul by HTC, Touch by HTC and Samsung Ace respectively) and will be getting upgrades according to the U.S. release.

So I contacted the helpful folks there and here is the official information I received from Telecom New Zealand:


The Windows 6.1 Phone client has been released into the market, and customers will have access to this - and be able to download the client.

In terms of TNZ devices, we have every intention to provide this updated platform to our customers.
 
We are awaiting the matching back-end functionality/server platform to be released from Microsoft.  This will enable us to test and approve a full end-to-end solution, that has been thoroughly tested on our devices.  Timeframe for this part of the solution, is around mid year, with an additional testing leadtime.
 
Up until that time, customers who do choose to download the upgrade - without it being officially supported or tested by TNZ, may face operating issues, bugs or in some extreme cases - a loss of functionality on their device. This situation is not new, as many applications, software updates, and patches are released by Microsoft & OEM's currently - and should be downloaded or applied by customers at their own risk.


Very nice, providing a tested solution to the market. But it sounds like Telecom's system integrator Gen-i is running the show. I am sure IT Pros will be happy. 

But what about the consumer market, those users who just want the latest OS to take advantage of all the new features and enhancements that do not require Microsoft Exchange Server or System Center Device Manager?

I have already heard of people running "cooked" Windows Mobile 6.1 ROMs in some TNZ Titan devices around the country. So this is a great opportunity to bring the official one earlier for consumer users.



Microsoft MVP Mobile Devices for another year!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Apr-2008 08:38

Thanks Microsoft, for giving me a Microsoft MVP Mobile Devices award for this year:


We [Microsoft] present the MVP Award to thank individuals for their exceptional contributions to technical communities worldwide. When a community participant sees an MVP in a technical community, whether in a newsgroup, as a user group host, a conference speaker, or a respondent in forums, that community participant can be confident that the information shared by the MVP will be of the highest caliber and will help every user make the most of the technology.


Microsoft
also benefits from engaging with MVPs through conferences, user groups, code camps, the MVP Global Summit, and other events. MVPs share their independent, real-world feedback with us, thereby helping Microsoft better understand users' needs, improve current products, and develop future technology.


Customers and technology users
who work with Microsoft technologies are encouraged to visit user groups, conferences, and training sessions that are led by MVPs. MVPs are objective technology experts who are eager to share their knowledge. They have no obligation to Microsoft and freely share their expert opinions and experience, earning users' respect and trust.


Here is my MVP profile.



Internet Explorer Mobile 6 screenshots

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Apr-2008 08:12

Here are a few screenshots of the upcoming Internet Explorer Mobile 6, announced today and coming to Windows Mobile devices later in the year. The pictures show how the engine renders some web sites:





And below you can see the new Zoom features in the updated Internet Explorer Mobile released today with Windows Mobile 6.1:






These screenshots come courtesy of the Mobius conference, of which I am one of the participants. Thank you guys!



What is new on Windows Mobile 6.1

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Apr-2008 05:30

Now that Windows Mobile 6.1 has been announced you must be thinking "what's in new?"... So here is a list of things you will find in Windows Mobile 6.1:

A new Getting Started center (pictured below) provides a way of helping people perform the primary tasks the phone is used for during the first 10 days. Those setup tasks include date and time, personal and work e-mail, security passwords, Bluetooth headsets, backgrounds and ring tones, as well as the ability to transfer music from the PC.



One of the first changes users will notice in Windows Mobile 6.1 is the new home screen user interface, shown on the right. The Sliding Panel plug-in offers quick, at-a-glance information of the clock, notifications (including voice mail, missed calls and text messages), e-mail, appointments, music and, optionally, Windows Live for Windows Mobile.



Nice - but only for Windows Mobile Standard handsets  - not for the touch screen devices, a.k.a. Windows Mobile Classic and Windows Mobile Professional.

In addition, once the Start menu button is pressed, people will notice it is now reordered to display the most recently used programs and applications at the top, enabling quicker access. The Most Recently Used Applications view can be turned off from the home screen settings panel.

For people who communicate through SMS, Windows Mobile 6.1 allows people to view a series of short message service threads in one view, cutting down on search time and providing one view of a conversation’s history.

Entries also show that contact details and contact names are hyperlinked, allowing people to respond immediately via text, phone or e-mail.

In Messaging, people will now be able to select multiple e-mail or text messages from the List view and enable various bulk actions: delete, move, mark read or unread, and flag messages. In the Contacts view, people can select or select all to delete multiple contacts at once.



Microsoft also says the over-the-air synchronization process in Windows Mobile 6.1-based devices has been improved further with Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 (SP1). The synchronization architecture has been redesigned to reduce bandwidth by up to 60 percent and improve battery life by up to 33 percent, according to Microsoft.

Windows Mobile 6.1 adds a Task Manager to help people better manage their device’s memory and battery life by allowing them to shut down and switch applications and programs. Users are also able to view general performance data regarding device memory and CPU use.

Live Search is an optional in-ROM application for device-makers to include in Windows Mobile 6.1-based devices. Live Search for Windows Mobile helps people search for and find destinations and content. Examples include finding restaurants and movie times, checking traffic, getting directions and finding the cheapest gas prices in a city.

Internet Explorer Mobile now allows zoom in and out, so you can select particular sections of the page. Don't expect the new Internet Explorer Mobile based on the Internet Explorer desktop code to be out until Q3 2008 though.

For Enterprise users there's now the ability to associate the device with a domain, and remotely manage the devices through the new System Center Mobile Device Manager.

And what existing devices will get an updated OS? Here is the list:


• Mobile operators:
– Alltel Wireless: HTC PPC6800, HTC Touch
– AT&T: Samsung BlackJack II, MOTO Q 9h global, Pantech duo, AT&T Tilt by HTC
– Sprint: A new Palm Treo and updates for the Mogul by HTC, Touch by HTC, MOTO Q 9c, Samsung ACE
– T-Mobile International: T-Mobile MDA Ameo 16 GB, T-Mobile MDA compact IV

• Device-makers:
– ASUS: New phones including the P320, ZX1, P560, M536 and updates for the P527, P750, M930
– HTC: A new Touch Dual for the U.S. and updates for the AT&T Tilt, Touch by HTC, Mogul by HTC from Sprint, TyTN II
– i-mate: 8502, 9502, 8150, 6150
– Intermec: CN3
– Motorola: MOTO Q 9c, MOTO Q 9h global, MC70, MC9000
– Pantech: Pantech duo
– Samsung: BlackJack II
– Toshiba: Portégé G810,Portégé G910



Leaving Vodafone behind

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Apr-2008 18:21

Today I walked into a Telecom New Zealand store and started the process to port the mobile number I've been using for the last ten years from Vodafone to Telecom.

This decision didn't come lightly. There are lots of things to consider - international roaming, handset availability, etc.

But seeing that Telecom is working on deploying their WCDMA network, which should be here by the end of the year, and since you can get a Telecom SIM card now to use it on any GSM phone while going overseas, I didn't see a reason good enough to keep me on Vodafone.

The Telecom store manager was really good - even when he told me I couldn't just put the 021 (Vodafone prefix) numberon my Okta Touch without losing the account settings I have with Telecom. After a few moments he came up with a good idea: just grab any old phone from the recycle bin and use its ESN number to hold my 027 (Telecom prefix) number for when I have another handset for that account.

This way he freed up my Okta Touch so I could port in.

If all is ok in about three days I should have all calls on this number going through Telecom New Zealand.

And no, I don't feel bad for leaving Vodafone behind. For a few months I've been contemplating doing it, but this week something happened that tipped me over to the other side.



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.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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