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Look at your tummy button or what's wrong with the blogosphere

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Mar-2008 08:07

Ed Bott's rant about Techmeme, echo chambers and more is a great read - in my case because I completely agree with this part:


Uh, no. I look at Techmeme once or twice a month, just to remind myself what a waste of time it is, and then I go read stuff that matters. I have more than 100 technology-related websites and RSS feeds in my reading list. Very few of them ever talk about whatever is hot on Techmeme right now. Which suits me just fine.

And please, don’t get me started on Digg.


I guess for some people Techmeme and Digg are a great way to be found. Evey day I remove a blog from my RSS reader - it hppens when I see a post that is just a repost of something that happened two weeks ago as something "new". I've seen people writing about "new" things that actually happened months before!



Motion Computing going?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Mar-2008 23:49

Interesting... Someone contacted me today to tell me Motion Computing was laying off 40 people. Did anyone hear anything about this?



It is a espresso, not a ristretto

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Mar-2008 11:33

If you follow my twitter you will notice coffee is a recurrent topic. A good coffee is sweet, needs no sugar and is refreshing - even when hot.

I like espresso at home. It's quick to make it. We do have an espresso machine here but for the sake of speed I bought a Nespresso machine. The coffee is still good, and it doesn't take all the cleaning after.

But I digress. The whole thing with this post is that New Zealanders tend to serve a ristretto when you order an espresso. The problem with this is that, unlike manual machines, automatic machines will not make the water go through faster, instead just pushing less water - as you can read in the wikipedia entry:


The resultant shot could be described as bolder, fuller, with more body and less bitterness. All of these flavors are usually attributed to espresso in general, but are more pronounced in ristretto. Because of this exaggerated flavor, ristretto is often preferred by espresso coffee lovers. Today, with the hand press out of favor and modern automated machines generally less controllable, ristretto usually just means less water; a normal (double) espresso shot is a 88 ml (3 fl oz), while a (double) ristretto is a 30-45 ml (1–1.5 fl oz).


A espresso should fill a demitasse. Some would call it a double shot. Here's a picture of what I know as a ristretto and served in New Zealand as an espresso. Bellow is what I know as an espresso and New Zealanders call double shot:



I have a few demitasse here. But lately I am enjoying this bodum glass - it is insulated with air, so the coffee stays hot for longer, with the glass itself being cooler.

Your opinions on coffee?



Vodafone New Zealand huge telemetry project

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Mar-2008 14:41

I've heard a rumour that Vodafone New Zealand is prearing to start a huge telemetry project - with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of devices being deployed.

What's this all about?



Where is the Windows Home Server love in New Zealand?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Mar-2008 08:01

The Windows Home Server team has posted an update to their Home Server World Cup - and New Zealand is still #2 in terms of relative uptake for this smart server for domestic use.

Also interesting to note is Windows Home Server was first released in New Zealand - I actually bought a license as soon as it was released here and have been using it since.

But despite the fact kiwis love technology and are in general very early adopters, the big players are not coming to this market. I contacted HP asking if their MediaSmart Home Server would be coming down here and I was told that no plans existed for the moment.



A few local companies will put a very good machine together to host your home server if you need. But we don't see here the number of brands and options the European market is seeing. I'd like to see at least the HP option around!

By the way, this is an old screenshot, our Windows Home Server is now up to 2 TB and 80% full - and the crappy 1 TB Maxtor drive was replaced with two 500 GB Seagate FreeAgent, which are much more reliable.



We should ban exclusive phone deals for buildings

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Mar-2008 07:36

We here in New Zealand should make this move too: FCC Bans Exclusive Phone Deals for Apartments.

Of course some factors are different here, since we tend to live in houses more than apartments. But more and more people chose apartments near the central areas for "lifestyle". Students also tend to live in shared apartments.

And when it comes to chose their provider most are stuck with whatever the landlord or building administration decides is better for them - and in some cases those buildings even have PBX systems installed and the owners charge for calls and broadband.

Give consumers a chance to decide what's better for them - and more economical too.



Windows Server 2008: the banner

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Mar-2008 22:38

This is me with one of the banners showing my quote during the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 launch in Wellington:



Microsoft is using those banners around the country. I think I am in good company.



Vote on Imagine Cup New Zealand and be in to win

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Mar-2008 13:34

Today I am attending the Microsoft Launch Wave 2008 (Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008) at Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. Really cool to see one of my quotes about running Geekzone on Windows Server 2008 in one of the banners around here.

Also cool was to be invited to judge the entries in the Imagine Cup New Zealand. I also found out you can vote for your favourite team and be in to win an Xbox 360, Windows Vista or Microsoft Office. Keep the votes coming!



More annoying Microsoft Outlook errors

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Mar-2008 21:36

Continuation from my previous post on annoying Microsoft Outlook errors:



Isn't this enough reason to be annoyed? Why offer add-in capabilities if any add-in installed turns a dual core 64 bit machine into a slow box?

Removed Xobni, disabled Avast Excchange add-in, disabled the search indexed - hey Windows Vista Search is a great feature, but the whole PC crawls to a halt if Microsoft Outlook 2007 is running and indexing is enabled.

Let's see how it behaves this week.



Freeview|HD Frequently Asked Questions

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Mar-2008 12:26

This is a fact sheet I received today from Freeview. It is related to the upcoming launch of its terrestrial digital TV broadcast service with High Definition (Freeview|HD) on 2nd April 2008:


What is Digital TV?
In the past the pictures on television seen by the majority of New Zealanders were by virtue of analogue transmission.

In May 2007 Freeview launched a digital satellite service giving Kiwis’ the option of watching their favourite programmes in crystal clear digital quality, free- to-air, for the first time.

Within twelve months we are approaching 100,000 (or 6% of) NZ homes that have access to the Freeview satellite service.

Freeview|HD will launch in April and the evolution of New Zealand free-to-air broadcasting takes its next major next step forward.

Why is this happening?
The Government has announced that the current analogue service will eventually be switched off, probably in the next 4-7 years. The current policy is that a target date will be set once 60% of homes have digital television and a switch off date finalised once 75% of homes have digital TV. We are currently at approximately 47%.

Freeview’s aim is to ensure that world class digital technology is not only available and affordable but that it also offers a superior broadcasting experience for all New Zealanders. The goal is to make this a reality for Kiwis through choice, not compulsion.

When is the launch date for the Freeview|HD service?
Wednesday the 2nd of April 2008 is when the network will go-live and digital terrestrial receivers will be available from appliance retailers to access the service. The official launch event will be on the 14th April 2008.

What does Freeview|HD deliver in addition to the Freeview satellite offering?
Where the Freeview satellite service made bad reception a thing of the past by delivering crystal clear standard definition pictures, Freeview|HD will provide crystal clear digital pictures and sound on all channels with the added bonus of some of your favourite programmes broadcast in High Definition.

TVOne, TV2, and TV3 will broadcast in a high definition format. There will be no standard definition signal for these channels meaning no need to simulcast in SD and HD. TVOne and TV2 will broadcast in the 1280 * 720 progressive (720p) format, while TV3 will broadcast in the 1920 * 1080 interlace (1080i) format. Both provide stunning HD picture quality.

On day one not all programmes on these channels will be true HD (i.e. shot, edited, stored, and broadcast in HD). As such the balance of the schedules will be ‘up-converted’ (or up-scaled) from standard definition to the appropriate HD format.

What High Definition programming will there be?
As stated above the TVOne, TV2, and TV3 schedules will be ‘up-converted’ (or up-scaled) from standard definition to the appropriate HD format.

Initially, TV3 will offer about 12 hours a week in true HD.

TVNZ will broadcast this year’s Beijing Olympics in High Definition on TVOne.

We expect that each channel will look to increase the quantity of true HD programmes throughout 2008 and into 2009.
In addition, Freeview will provide an HD demonstration channel (channel 100) to showcase true HD from the Freeview|HD service launch.

What do I need?
Freeview does not sell digital receivers or carry out installations. It does, however, certify receivers to ensure quality and it also accredits retailers who wish to promote Freeview and sell compatible products.

Once you have an approved digital receiver you can access Freeview|HD from UHF aerial or for the Freeview satellite service a satellite dish.

What are your take-up projections?
Initial projections for the Freeview satellite service’s first year (at 30,000) were proven to be conservative as Kiwis’ quickly embraced the chance of receiving crystal clear digital quality pictures and sound for free. As stated above, within twelve months we are approaching 100,000 (or 6% of) NZ homes that have access to the Freeview satellite service.

With the launch of Freeview|HD we expect take-up of this service to be low initially and tracking upwards over time as the number of devices that contain a digital receiver increase and the channels accessible through Freeview grows.

Once again it is hard to predict how the take-up of Freeview|HD will unfold, but given the increasing number of homes with HD capable TV’s (approximately 300,000 homes) looking for the best digital quality experience, we are confident that we will see over 50,000 NZ homes with the Freeview|HD service by June 2009.

Why are you deploying two separate technologies (satellite and terrestrial)?
By having two platforms Freeview will provide 100% national coverage, different cost options, features and ultimately more choice for New Zealanders who wish to receive crystal clear television and radio services.

Both platforms have different strengths and merits and by combining the two we have been able to deliver a digital broadcasting service that uses the latest technology and places New Zealand right at the forefront of global broadcasting capability.

Most OECD countries have or are planning dual digital broadcast platforms to ensure ubiquitous access for its citizens. We are the first country to have a digital satellite and terrestrial, free-to-air, service available under one brand.

How long before Freeview’s broadcast infrastructure will need to be updated again?
The current analogue television network has been in service now for over 30 years. And whilst it is very hard to predict what the future will bring we have endeavoured to future proof the Freeview platforms as much as practically possible.

The Freeview|HD digital terrestrial platform’s HD capability, coupled with decisions by TVNZ (TVOne and TV2) and TV3 to broadcast on this platform in HD only, place New Zealand alongside the world’s leading HD platforms in terms of not just the technology deployed but also in providing our ‘most watched’ channels in HD.

Internationally, HD broadcasting has been led by pay-tv operators who have charged premium subscriptions for access to HD channels. Other than in the USA, Japan, and Australia, HD channels are almost exclusively pay-tv channels, not free-to-air.

What digital receiver products will Freeview provide?
Freeview does not manufacture or sell any digital reception hardware.

What we do is work with leading manufacturers and their NZ importer/distributor partners to produce technical specifications so that they are confident to make receivers for Freeview services.

To provide both manufacturers and consumer confidence in these products we do, however, provide a testing and certification service. As such Freeview has receivers rigorously tested to ensure that they are easy to install, automatically tune-in new channels when they launch, have the ability to access interactive TV content as it becomes available, work with the Freeview Guide (EPG), and as part of the warranty have technical support and service available throughout New Zealand. Overall certified products undergo and pass over 5,000 tests.

The digital satellite receiver and digital terrestrial receiver technical specifications are complete and available to any manufacturer, importer or distributor. Through 2008 we are likely to see the following products available from retailers:

• Digital Receivers – a stand alone digital receiver which connects to the satellite dish or UHF aerial and then to the television. A digital satellite receiver is different from a digital terrestrial receiver so it’s important to make sure it matches the chosen Freeview service.

• Integrated Digital Televisions (iDTV’s) – a TV with a built-in digital receiver. This means there’s no need to buy a separate digital receiver if you haven’t already purchased an HD Ready analogue TV. The iDTV must have the minimum requirements for displaying High Definition programmes.

• Gaming consoles – for example, PlayStation are developing an add-on digital receiver which will enable the PS3 to be used as a digital television recorder as well as a gaming console.

• PC cards / adaptors – turning your computer into a digital TV. For this you need to either install a digital TV PC card (this means getting inside the computer) or, if you have a modern PC with a fast USB-2 socket, you can plug in a digital TV USB adapter. You use the supplied software to tune in and watch FTA digital TV.

Next we will provide a Digital Television Recorder (DTR) specification. We are hoping to see Freeview approved DTRs in the market later in the year. They are essentially a smart digital receiver that records programmes to a hard drive. Programmes you want to record can be selected directly from the on-screen programme guide (EPG). Some have advanced features such as the ability to pause live TV, record multiple channels while simultaneously playing pre-recorded programmes, time shifting and series recording.

Which areas will be able to receive the new Freeview|HD service?
Freeview|HD is broadcast on a digital terrestrial network and received via a UHF aerial. It will be available in the Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, Hastings, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. That’s 75% of New Zealand homes.

Full coverage maps for each area are available at http://www.freeviewnz.tv/.

Outside of these areas, which equates to about 25% of homes, the Freeview satellite service provides free-to-air access to digital television.

How many channels does Freeview have and are there plans for any more in the next 12 months?
The number of channels that have joined the Freeview service currently sits at fifteen – thirteen television and two radio channels. We launched with five television and two radio channels on May 2nd 2007.

The currently available capacity of the satellite and terrestrial platforms is around twenty television channels. As such there is still room for more services and we are regularly approached by potential broadcasters looking to become part of the Freeview family.

Broadcasters can choose whether to broadcast their channels on satellite and/or terrestrial so the channel offering may differ between the two platforms. The Freeview|HD service will launch with the following channels: TV ONE, TV2, TV3, C4, MAORI TV, TVNZ6, TVNZ7, TVNZ SPORT EXTRA, PARLIAMENT TV, TV CENTRAL (Waikato & BoP only), RNZ NATIONAL, RNZ CONCERT.


UPDATE: I've posted more information about Freeview software and hardware.



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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