My window to the world


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.



More Linux servers defaced in 2007 than all Windows versions

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Mar-2008 09:05

According to Zone-H.org statistics, more Linux servers were defaced in 2007 than Windows machines - all versions of Windows.

And this comes from Slashdot, believe it or not.


"Zone-H have recently posted the statistical breakdown of the collected website defacements from the last few years. Surprisingly, in 2007 more Linux servers suffered a successful attack than all versions of Windows, combined. Similarly, more Apache installations were successfully attacked than all IIS versions combined.



Annoying Microsoft Outlook error

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Mar-2008 23:07

If there's a single thing that annoys me a lot on Microsoft Outlook is this "A data file did not close properly the last time it was used and is being checked for problems. Performance might be affected while the check is in progress" message.

Yes, it sure slows down everything, no kidding. It's worst when it happens on a Saturday evening.

I found this before and fixed it by disabling the Avast Exchange server add-in. Now I am using Xobni and it's happening again.

Is it possible to have any Microsoft Outlook add-in installed that do not crash Microsoft Outlook?



Unbundling has begun: Orcon and Vodafone

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Mar-2008 12:23

And so it has... New Zealand ISP Orcon has announced its "unbundled" service called Orcon+, which means their equipment is installed on Telecom New Zealand's premises and their service is provided over the existing copper network that already touches your home (unless you are like me and have a cable modem service coupled with a Voice over IP phone line which means no POTS line here).

This also means that you no longer need a Telecom landline contract just to support your Internet connection via DSL.

Two of the Orcon@home+ plans tie ADSL2+ connection with up to 24 Mbps downloads (the catch is that you must be at most 3 Km from the local exchange) with some advanced telephony services, of course provided over their IP network.

You can have additional unlimited calls to up to 15 international destinations, for an additional NZ$10 per country.

With all those new speeds you would think that the company would offer a better starter allowance - the top plan comes with 25GB of traffic included - but additional data allowance can be purchased

Of course there's a (long) discussion on Geekzone about this new Orcon LLU service. Duncan Blair, Orcon Product Group Manager, managed to answer lots of questions our users posted so it is worth reading the thread.

A couple of things that occur to me though: their press release says additional data is $1 / GB. But you can sign up fort $40/ 50GB which is cheaper. But does it means I have to sign up for this cheaper data before I use it, and if not then it will not available after?

The next comment is regarding number portability. Apparently you can keep your current Telecom phone number when moving to this service if you are staying in the same address. But you cannot keep the number if moving - so very different from number portability and probably dependent on which exchanges their equipment was deployed.

The service is currently available in some areas around Auckland (Ponsonby, Mt Albert, Browns Bay, Ellerslie, and Glenfield), with others coming later during the year. Only Auckland listed though...

Not to be outdone, Vodafone New Zealand also issued a press release yesterday telling everyone they too are installing equipments on Telecom's exchanges. Currently they are targeting fifteen exchanges, with five already completed. Vodafone will be providing services that include VoIP, ADSL2+ and VDSL. They even promise up to 50 Mbps download speeds - if you are within 1 km from the exchange.

Vodafone says by the end of the year they will completed installation in all 42 exchanges around Auckland, plus other 20 exchanges in other centres around the country. They say this will be the biggest unbundled network around here.

In the meantime I hear Telecom New Zealand is working on its own VoIP service - but no public information for launch date is available yet - and the same from TelstraClear, although I also hear TelstraClear's plan is to offer VoIP services to business customers only.


UPDATE: Duncan has answered my questions about number portability and data caps.



At last, some Windows Mobile security certification

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Mar-2008 10:14

In my last project before leaving Unisys to work full time here on Geekzone I was working with an Australian organisation who wanted to deploy Windows Mobile devices.

The only outstanding point in the whole project was security certification. Back then I asked Microsoft Australia, Microsoft New Zealand, Microsoft Corp and my Windows Mobile MVP peers for any information on this.

I came out with no answers. I knew there was something for the U.S. DoD, but couldn't find anything for Australia and New Zealand.

It seems this is now solved,  at least in Australia, where the Australian Deparment of Defence, Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) has accredited both Windows Mobile and Blackberry solutions.

I still haven't heard of anything similar here in New Zealand.



Windows Mobile Library on Technet

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Mar-2008 08:35

If you are an IT Pro and part of your projects involve Windows Mobile deployment and management, I recommend you read the new Windows Mobile Technical Library on Technet.



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.

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