My window to the world


i-mate closing its US office?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Mar-2008 09:37

Vodafone New Zealand was at the forefront of Windows Mobile adoption within the group when a few years back they started selling the i-mate products. Those were the i-mate Pocket PC Phone, Smartphone2, SPJAS, SP5, Jasjar, KJam and a couple I can't remember the names.

Since then the Vodafone group has sourced their devices directly from the manufacturers and imprinted their own brand - but not in New Zealand.

But back to i-mate, last year HTC stopped supplying those devices to i-mate, who in turn decided to create their own design and get some other companies to manufacture them.

It didn't work so well it seems.

Back in February 2007 they announced the Ultimate series. And weren't those the ugliest things on this planet? I mean, I wouldn't want to be caught using these devices. And yes I even (briefly) played with one:



In February 2007 they said these devices would be in the market by end 2007. By September 2007 they were saying the devices would be out early 2008. And now Expansys lists some of these devices as "discontinued"

The company is now laying off most of its employees in the US, according to Engadget:


that i-mate's US division in Redmond, Washington has all but disintegrated after a Friday bloodbath that saw the entire engineering, QA, and tech writing departments laid off, among others. Several honchos who weren't cut left anyway, perhaps unwilling to work in a ghost town or as a show of solidarity to their fallen brethren; notably, the Chief Software Officer and VP of Sales and Marketing are both gone, leaving a sales director to be promoted to the lofty title of GM of what seems to be all US operations. Apparently, the Dubai-based firm is in the hurt locker after its inability to get the Ultimate line (also known as "the basket with all of i-mate's eggs in it") fully deployed to retail channels in the time frame it had hoped, and meeting massive resistance from US carriers to carry the devices, it's been left with no option but to leave behind just enough employees to set up and maintain a web-based portal


Meanwhile on a more local note, of all the nice Windows Mobile devices Vodafone New Zealand showed me back in 2007 (which I still can't talk about), only the Palm 500v made it to the market.





Computerworld Excellence Awards 2008 open

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Feb-2008 16:14

Are you involved in the New Zealand IT landscape? I just got a notification that the Computerworld Excellence Awards 2008 is now open for entries.

According to the e-mail, the Computerworld Excellence Awards is "calling for entries from ICT professionals who can demonstrate an outstanding application of technology".

The Computerworld Excellence Awards website lists these categories:

  • CIO of the Year
  • ICT Educator of the Year
  • Young ICT Talent
  • Excellence in the Use of ICT for Customer Service
  • Excellence in the Use of ICT in Government
  • Excellence in the Use of ICT in Health
  • Excellence in Infrastructure Innovation
  • Excellence in the Use of ICT in an SME
  • Best Mobile, Wireless or Telecommunication Solution
  • Best Sustainable ICT Project
  • Innovative Use of ICT
  • Most Successful Project Implementation
  • Overall Excellence in the Use of ICT


  • This year Computerworld has introduced some new awards, including for the ICT Educator of the Year, Excellence in Infrastructure Innovation and Best Sustainable ICT Project. I would like to see something for technology startups as well - although some could claim "Innovative Use of ICT" could fit the category.

    Three of these are individual awards (ICT Educator of the Year, Young ICT Talent and CIO of the Year) and the others are team awards.

    Final submissions due by Friday 11 April.



    VMWare on a roll

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Feb-2008 12:12

    VMWare is on a roll today... I just read press releases of VMWare software being distribued with HP and Dell servers, plus some EMC solutions for virtualised storage.


    VMware and HP today announced VMware's ultra-thin hypervisor software, VMware ESX 3i, is expected to be broadly integrated and available beginning March 31, 2008, on 10 models of HP ProLiant servers. The joint offering helps customers adopt virtualization with greater speed and simplicity. Virtualization helps companies share and pool technology resources to better optimize their datacenters, resulting in greater flexibility to meet business demands and business pressures to reduced costs.



    Dell will begin the process of putting VMware ESX 3i hypervisor across all virtualization-certified Dell PowerEdge servers starting in early April. Customers will be able to purchase with a single click, easing virtualization planning, deployments and management. More information is available at http://www.dell.com/vmwarenow.



    Leveraging its extensive applications expertise, EMC has defined optimized application and storage solution configurations, assured interoperability and fully documented complete deployment best practices for Microsoft SQL Server 2005, Microsoft Exchange 2007, Oracle 10g and 11g, and SAP environments to provide quick and simplified implementation in advanced VMware infrastructures. These application solutions have been tested and documented at broad workloads in VMware Infrastructure 3.5 environments to enable deployments that meet customer expectations for application-level performance, backup and recovery, remote replication, high availability and manageability. As a result, joint EMC and VMware customers can more rapidly achieve the cost-reduction and flexibility of VMware environments in less time and with less effort.


    When I attended the Symantec Vision event in Sydney (Australia) last year I asked one of the top Symantec executives there about Microsoft's virtualization solution - at the time only Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 was available and Windows Server 2008 with hypervisor was just a dream in the future - and why it wasn't represented at all during the event. The reply was short but conveyed a clear message: "Microsoft's virtualization is not ready for prime time".

    Meanwhile VMWare is rolling out more and more solutions - with more flexibility.

    Virtualization is a new area in computing, still. It may take a few years before more companies jump on this, but it will happen.



    Microsoft DreamSpark explained

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Feb-2008 11:56

    I have just posted on Geekzone an interesting interview with Paul Lo from the Developer & Platform Strategy Group, Microsoft New Zealand, about the DreamSpark initiative.

    Chakkaradeep, one of the Microsoft Student Partners (New Zealand) discusses the program, asks when it will be available here in New Zealand and how it differs from MSDN Academic options.



    ICONZ to launch speedy hosting service

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Feb-2008 10:20

    I am currently testing a service with our current colocation and hosting provider, ICONZ. This is not a consumer Internet access service, rather a hosting product.

    I am not going much into what kind of service it is (this will be a blog post of its own later this week) but today I ran a speedtest on the server we have there and got these results:



    It looks good so far.




    New Zealand at CeBIT Blog

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Feb-2008 09:29

    I was checking my RSS feeds today and came across the New Zealand at CeBIT 2008 blog.

    It's worth a read if you are interested to know what kiwi technology companies are doing overseas in terms of exhibits - you will find out it's very different from what we have seen in The Flight of Conchords...

    The blog links to a list of New Zealand companies participating in this year's expo, plus individual blog posts about the technology, how to reach other markets, etc.



    Adobe AIR launch: looking for applications?

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Feb-2008 09:08

    I am just back from visiting the Adobe AIR Marketplace, where you will find feature applications developed with the new Adobe AIR released yesterday to much noise.

    Good luck finding something that works today though.

    Most of the applications there will return an error during installation. They all seem to not like AIR 1.0 and work only with the AIR beta versions.

    I was interested in a couple of Twitter clients, the Google Analytics client, the Meebo client... But only the Google Analytics application would actually work - a very good and clean user interface and no it's not a Google product but a third party creation.


    It would be nice if Adobe had worked with these developers to at least have the featured applications updated by launch time.

    And how come the Adobe's own Adobe Media Player is not even listed in the marketplace? It was a cool application while in beta. And even its own software won't run on AIR 1.0.

    Actually it would be nicer if Adobe had a link to Adobe AIR on its frontpage with their other products too:


    I am not too pessimistic about Adobe AIR though. It's got the potential to be a winner, like Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash. Microsoft Silverlight may be getting behind now (was it ever ahead?)...



    Backup your stuff - this includes you Telecom New Zealand

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Feb-2008 19:23

    This is juicy - might be in the mainstream media sometime soon... A fault at Telecom's Pukekohe exchange caused 10,000 phones to stop working. This included interruption to emergency calls, etc.

    It appears this is one of the NEAX telephone exchanges still in use (for our North American readers it would be the "CO").

    Now comes the juicy bit of this story... The rumours are that Telecom restored a backup and things started falling down. People start receiving calls intended to someone else, and calls being charged to the wrong person.

    Why? It looks like the backup routine wasn't working and the data restored goes back to 2005.

    Any changes since then were lost and Telecom is reapplying transaction files (do they keep three years of transaction files?).

    I have e-mailed Telecom's press contact people to find out more about this rumour.

    Any good IT administrator knows to test backup and restore routines at regular intervals and to run restores to test the reliability of its procedures.

    What really happened there Telecom?

    UPDATE: Here is what happened according to the Telecom spokesperson:


    As reported, a complex software fault began causing problems for fixed line phone services in the Pukekohe area on Thursday evening.

    Rather than risk a recurrence of the suspected software fault, Telecom has used a software file from 2005 to restore service as quickly as possible to the greatest number of customers.

    While this meant that most customers in the area were returned to service on Friday afternoon, those customers whose details had changed since early 2005 would not have had their dial tone restored (so they could make outgoing calls) or they could be receiving calls intended for a different phone number.

    Telecom has been progressively cross-referencing data to restore full service for these customers over the weekend and this is expected to be completed by tomorrow (Monday). Telecom's priority has been to restore the ability to make outgoing calls for customers, followed by incoming calls.

    Services such as call minder and voice messaging will be restored once this work has been completed.

    Telecom is able to identify which phone lines have been misdirected as a result of this fault and, as per standard practice, customers will not be charged for any calls not made by them.

    If customers in the area have not already logged a fault with their service provider and are still experiencing problems on Monday they should contact their service provider.




    Storage in the cloud SkyDrive is out of beta and available in 38 countries

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Feb-2008 08:43

    Microsoft Live's SkyDrive service, that allows users to store files away from their computers, on the Internet, is now out of beta. And it is free.

    The good news is that storage was increased from the 1GB available during beta to 5GB - and availability is now extended to 38 countries, including New Zealand.

    The complete list of countries include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Turkey.
     
    To use SkyDrive you need only a Windows Live ID - even the Geekzonemail ID is valid!

    Now if we could have some WebDAV integration that would allow us to map the SkyDrive as a drive letter in our PCs...



    Zumobi? Not really...

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Feb-2008 11:29

    Is just me or a lot of people get all hyped up on a boring user interface with limited options? Give me a RSS reader any time and I can choose what I want instead of waiting for those tiles...


    UPDATE: removed the links - the other sites were not hyped up really, just reporting on something that happened. But I still think the software is the most boring user interface there is for Windows Mobile...



    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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