My window to the world


Xtra users be prepared for more e-mail troubles

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Mar-2008 09:31

If you are a Telecom New Zealand's Xtra customer and suffered through the Yahoo!Xtra Bubble migration, it might be good to brace yourself - again.

The word in our Geekzone forums is that Xtra is changing how it handles e-mail, again. And this page confirms those changes from 18 March.

Hoiw does this change affect you? If you are using Xtra for your e-mails and always send e-mails from an address that ends on @xtra.co.nz then nothing changes.

If you are using Xtra to send e-mails with address that end in something different thn @xtra.co.nz then keep reading.

Whenever someone sends an e-mail, a SMTP server is used to relay the message to other servers for distribution.

In most cases, ISPs allow access to their SMTP servers to users on their own network, or to authenticated users if coming for other networks.

But SMTP servers do not require the "FROM" field in the message to be exactly the user's e-mail address.

This means that once a user successfully authenticate with the SMTP server it is possible to send e-mails as someone else. And this can be a problem. People can just authenticate to a SMTP server and impersonate someone else. Or use it for spam purposes.

To eliminate ths problem Xtra has decided (or was it Yahoo! who decided this?) that a "validation" is required to confirm that the e-mail address you are using to send a message is actually yours.



It's simple to do it, just follow these instructions.

Even though it's simple to do it, I can imagine a lot of people will be caught on this. I just hope their help desk this time is preared to provide people with the correct answers.



Windows Live Foldershare refresh live

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Mar-2008 07:16

I read this morning that Windows Live Foldershare is live. It's a good, transparent and automatic way to synchronise folders and files between computers.

The service itselft is nothing new. Microsoft bought Foldershare a couple of year ago and it appears it now shows an updated web user interface and full integration with Windows Live accounts. The PC client has been updated as well - which means fuill Windows Vista support now.

Other than that I wonder if the 10,000 file limit per sync pair is still there. It makes the software unusable for me, because some of my folders have way more than 10,000 files - the documents folder for example, with all the web, images, etc.



IIS7 Remote Administration tool

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Mar-2008 08:31

I was told this morning the IIS7 Remote Administration tool is now available for download. If you are already running Windows Server 2008, then this is a great little thing to have in your toolbox.

To install this on a client PC you will need Windows Vista SP1, and the Internet Information Services 7.0 Management Console installed already installed.

On the server you must have the Management Service configured and running. More instructions here.

The connection is over SSL, and if you are running a VPN and don't allow access through your firewall this should be a safe and quick way to manager IIS. In my case I am using Hamachi (it works great on Windows Server 2008) and I configured the Management Service to accept connections only from my private IP address.



Who needs security - or is mobitv burying their heads in the sand?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Mar-2008 09:45

It looks like mobitv didn't see this one coming - or did they just bury their heads in the sand?

The service streams live TV to mobile devices (no need to visit the site if you are not in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru or Dominican Replublic) and being the provider of such a service you would think they have a secure platform for content delivery.

Or not... Someone posted on HowardForums detailed instructions on to access the service and a direct link to a single file that allows acess to the entire service. The file in question (qtv.mobitv.com/sprintTVlive.mcd) seems now to have been removed, but until this whole thing started it was available to anyone to access it - no authentication, no encryption, nothing.

Basically the trick was to download the file, and using your browser open the local version to then have access to many of the live TV streams offered by Sprint to their customers.

The folks at mobitv didn't like that someone posted detailed instructions on HowardForums about this and sent out a notice. They actually contacted the hosting provider to have the HowardForums taken down.

What's wrong here? First, I agree detailed instructions on how to go around getting free services is a bit too much.

But on the other hand mobitv created a content delivery platfotm that would not guarantee access to members only, apparently lacking authentication, encryption and possibly more.

C'mon guys, sharpen up. If you create a service, make it right. Don't plan on putting the locks after the doors are wide open. You should have done this before. You have your system fixed, Be sure to create better system next time.

As for HowardForums, leave the forum alone. For what I read it's wasn't even posted there first, because the poster says this was found in another Sprint forum somewhere else on the Internet.



Should telcos store your SMS for a (possible) investigation?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Mar-2008 09:34

The New Zealand government is proposing a change in laws that would see telcos being required to store SMS that go through their networks, to facilitate police investigations if needed.

This is wrong, very wrong, and David Farrar says it why:


It is one thing to have a law which requires telcos to record the content of text messages *after they receive a search warrant targetted at a particular individual. But this is about having the telcos store every single text message we send or receive, so it can then be accessed.

The precedent this would set is that ISPs should also keep a copy of every e-mail message you ever send or receive, in case the Police should ever want it.  And then how about also requiring them to keep track of every website you have ever visited.

Telcos and ISPs should co-operate with the Police *after* a warrant has been served requiring interception or recording of data which a Judge/JP has authorised as necessary for a criminal investigation. But that is very different to having them forced to store personal communications on every NZer, so that law enforcement authorities can access them at some later date if they wish. Why not also have the teclso [sic] record every voice call, just in case they are also needed?


The New Zealand government should not propose this, and this should not be allowed.



WindowBlinds for Microsoft Windows: it is fun...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Mar-2008 08:43

A few months ago I received a copy of WindowBlinds to test but I never posted a review. Simply because I was running Windows Vista 64 bit on my laptop and I did not want to mess with that for any reason (I know a bit dramatic, isn't it?).

Anyway, last night I decided to install the software and see how it performs. First I downloaded their latest version to make sure all would be ok.

WindowBlinds comes with a few skins, but you can download more from their site. Some are free, some are premium. One of the default ones that come with the software is quite cool anyway and I am using it to demo the animation effects in the following video:



One of the themes makes my Windows Vista laptop look completely like a Mac OS X machine, except that minimise works on Windows.

This will modify the most common elements on your desktop - the themes. This includes buttons, scroll bars, fonts, the Windows Orb, taskbar, etc.

I did not notice any performance impact on my laptop with those modifications.

If you want to go a step further you can use other software from Stardock to customise the experience even more, including icons, a full taskbar replacement, etc.

I found only one program didn't work quite well with WindowBlinds, and that was SnagIt, for screen capture. SnagIt would crash every time I right-clicked its icon in the system tray - the only program to do this. So now I am divided between keeping WindowBlinds and limiting SnagIt usability or remove it from the system and stop having fun.



The 2008 Democratic National Convention gets a little help from New Zealand company

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Mar-2008 22:40

I have been holding this for a while, since I was told about it by SilverStripe's Sigurd Magnusson during the Kiwi Foo Camp - I was keen to write about it back then but he asked me to hold a bit.

Now it's official and I can tell: the Open Source content management system (CMS) SilverStripe, developed here in Wellington, was selected by the U.S. Democratic Party as the platform for its pre-election conference, the Democratic National Convention 2008.

Well done guys, congratulations on this win.



Broadband connections take over dialup in New Zealand. ISPs should wake up about now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Mar-2008 15:25

Today Statistics New Zealand released some interesting information, showing that for the first time broadband connections passed dialup in numbers in this country.


The number of broadband subscribers in the six months to September 2007 overtook the number of dial-up subscribers for the first time ever, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Broadband subscribers continued to increase – up 14.4 percent in the six months to September 2007, to reach 829,300. However, this growth rate has slowed from an increase of 28.6 percent in September 2006 and 18.5 percent in March 2007. Subscribers with dial-up connection fell 8.6 percent from March 2007, down to 675,800.

The number of broadband subscribers grew from 9 per 100 inhabitants to 19.6 per 100 inhabitants in the two years ended September 2007, while the number of dial-up subscribers per 100 inhabitants fell from 21.2 to 15.9. Of the additional 10.6 broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants, half switched from dial-up and the remaining half were new subscribers.

There was a 47 percent increase in the number of Internet service providers reporting that the cost of international bandwidth had been a barrier to growth in the past two years.


Good news. I understand those ISPs who complained of the cost of international bandwitdth as a barrier are right in some points.

But they also have to understand that broadband is not going back, and connections are only likely to go up in numbers. So there's not much they can do about it, except better capacity planning (currently lacking in almost every New Zealand ISP it seems) and apply more realistic prices to their plans.

In the last two years we've seen many examples of ISPs (Xtra, Woosh, Slingshot) who offered "unlimited" broadband plans, only to later realise people do take "unlimited" seriously. Some of these ISPs closed the plans to new customers, applied rate shapping technologies to limit the utilisation ("unlimited"?) or simply denied anything was happening, while constraining resources until users had to cancel their accounts.

It is time for ISPs to stop doing this and be realistic about the services people expect from them.



Internet Explorer 8 beta 1 and SQL Dataservices

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Mar-2008 14:45

This morning (NZ time) I was overloaded with Internet Explorer 8 beta 1 information - RSS feeds, twitter, etc. The news didn't come alone though and Microsoft unveiled Silverlight 2, a beta of Expression Studio 2.

The Silverlight 2 announcement is interesting because Microsoft commited to deliver a mobile version for Windows Mobile, Nokia S60, S40 and Nokia Internet Tablets.

Microsoft also announced something that I think is even more important: Microsoft SQL Server Data Services, designed for developers building Web-based applications that need a scalable, programmable and highly available utility-based data store:


- Virtually limitless, on-demand scalability. Customers pay only for the resources actually consumed

- Reduced costs.  Customers use the service with minimal up-front infrastructure and operational cost. Businesses can minimize their initial investment in hardware and software and the on-going cost for storage administration, scale maintenance.

- Universal access.  SSDS supports simple web-programming interfaces like SOAP and REST for quick provisioning of web applications. Primary wire format is XML for data interchange.These easy to use, standards-based interfaces enable developers to focus on innovating with data quickly.



Back to Internet Explorer 8 beta 1 now... I read a lot of people shouting "Internet Explorer 8 has arrived" (by the way this was the headline at one of the blogs I subscribe to, and no Ben, not yours). This is not quite. What we have here is "Internet Explorer 8 beta 1". And look at the screenshot below:



No doubt a lot of people will download Internet Explorer 8 beta 1 and find out problems. Even though this is a "preview", "beta", "for web developers and designers".

Just please don't blame the software if it break things.



Office Live Workspace: try it

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Mar-2008 19:50

You should try Microsoft's new Office Live Workspace beta. It's really easy to use. When the availability news came I jumped to try it and it's impressive in its simplicity.

It's a place to store your documents and files online. You can upload individual files or a batch of files into "workspacess", which act like folders where you can separate documents by topic.


You can share an entire workspace or just individual documents with friends or coworkers, giving them rights to view or edit the documents.

The service does not offer on-line editors. You still need to use the original tool to make changes - be it Microsoft's own Office suite or something else. You can still see a read-only version online, and check a history of changes.

The cool thing of using Microsoft Office though is that you can install a plug-in that will allow you to open and save files to your workspaces directly from the applications.

Of course if you want to store files - not only documents - then I'd recommend SkyDrive instead, which gives you 5 GB of online storage. But I would still like to be able to mount SkyDrive storage as a drive letter on Windows PCs.



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.

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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.

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