My window to the world

Opera 9.5 demo video

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Feb-2008 09:16

Opera Software has announced Opera 9.5, its new web browser version for smartphones. The software is not available yet, but it will be hosted at Opera Mobile sometime after the Mobile World Congress 2008.

In the meantime, there's a demo video available and shared below.

I am looking forward to having this installed on my Windows Mobile device.

Is just me or does it show all the features Internet Explorer Mobile should have had for the last few years already?

Microsoft Windows Server 2008

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Feb-2008 17:29

I've just finished downloading Windows Server 2008 RTM from Connect. You will notice that MSDN and Technet only have the 64 bit version, while Connect lists all versions but only for the next 30 days.

It took only 29 minutes to download Windows Server 2008 32 bit. I am now going to use this to upgrade the test environment on a virtual machine. This is in preparation for the migration of our Geekzone production server from Windows Server 2008 RC1 to RTM.

We have been running Windows Server 2008 RC1 on Geekzone for almost three months now as part of an early adopters programme with Microsoft. The experience couldn't have been better.

During this time we had only a couple of updates installed, only one restart because of this and installed a second drive to mirror the system. Modifying the drive to a dynamic partition and creating the mirror did not require a restart (as I remember it needed on Windows Server 2003) and all completed ok.

I have heard comments from Geekzone users on how they feel the site has been more responsive in the last few month - and I've noticed this too.

If you want to find out more about Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 check the Summer Road Trip.

As for Windows Vista SP1... I am waiting for it to be available for download, ready to install on my laptop.

TheFreeNet - mesh wi-fi in Wellington metropolitan areas

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Feb-2008 15:30

During the last weekend at Kiwi Foo Camp I came across a very interesting project called The Free Net. Rod Drury went as far as saying this was one of the Best of Foo.

The whole idea is to use accessible wireless mesh repeaters to extend a wireless LAN (wi-fi) network and cover Wellington with free wi-fi. The Meraki solution was adopted by the project because they manufacture a few hardware options including an indoor version (pictured), an outdoor version and an upcoming solar battery-powered outdoor version.

Individuals and companies would "donate" part of their bandwidth to the project. Companies could subsidise this through advertising shown in a narrow bar on top of the webpages visited (I saw that and it's really not a problem).

The project is being initially sponsored by Webstock 2008 and Govis, who are creating a fund with their donations of NZ$5,000 and $9,000 respectively to purchase those devices and donate to individuals and companies who want to start sharing their networks.

This will be a lot of devices, since the Meraki indoors costs only US$49 and the Meraki outdoor costs US$99.

The whole thing is based on a "pay forward" concept where you don't charge others to use your bandwidth while you can use someone else's bandwidth for free.

The project established a 1 GB limit that any MAC address can use during the month which is a lot in a shared model aimed to be used only when you are away from your own network.

Hopefully with more people joining in all the traffic won't be going throug a handful of companies and individuals.

You don't need to donate your bandwidth though. You can donate the space and power required for these devices to run. Providing they are in range to another device then the network will be extended and Internet access will be provided through the shared gateways in the system.

At the end of the day you will be hard pressed to find individuals who can afford sharing their bandwidth in th current New Zealand broadband landscape. In this country there's no concept of "unlimited" bandwidth. People are still being charged in plans that go from a minimum of 1GB (yes, believe me), going through 5GB, 10GB and so on.

We are here on a 80 GB plan, for example, and only use about 60 GB a month. I would be happy to share the other 20 GB but there is currently no way to limit this on the project. You can limit the bandwidth throughput (to say 512 Kbps instead of the native 10 Mbps on my cable conneciton) but you can't limit the number of users.

There are other projects and products that allow people to share their Internet connections around, but none incorporate the mesh aspect of this project which means it does not require every single node to be directly connected to the Internet. You can have a look at FON (not available in New Zealand), Tomizone or Zenbu (both New Zealand-based businesses).

FON allows you to share your connection for free, while using other people's connections for free as well. Or to make it available for free to other people who share their connections, while charging "visitors" that do not share their own connections.

Tomizone and Zenbu both work on the same commercial view. You purchase a router with a modified firmware and can then establish your own hotspot service, charging people for access.

I would be much more inclined to use the FON model for example, to cover the basic connection cost, but wouldn't mind going completely commercial to cover all the costs.

What do you think?

Wikipedia on Vodafone live!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Feb-2008 13:07

If you are in New Zealand and use Vodafone live! services, check the Mobile Wikipedia, developed by Instinct.

The service is a WAP interface to Wikipedia and can be accessed from Vodafone live! > Communities > The Answer Is Here.

A few comments though:

- I tried it using a Palm Treo 500v (screenshot) which is the first Windows Mobile Vodafone live! compatible handset. It all worked ok but the articles themselves were not showing any formatting If you test this with other handsets (Nokia, Sony Ericcson, etc) please leave a comment how the experience goes.

- Why didn't Vodafone use something like "Mobile Wikipedia" in the link, instead of "The Answer Is Here"? It would probably attract more attention.

Good luck with the new service.

New Geekzone Blogs Windows Vista Sidebar gadget

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Feb-2008 10:44

Thanks to Chaks, who developed a Geekzone Blogs Gadget for Windows Vista Sidebar. He was inpired by our Geekzone Forums Gadget for Windows Vista Sidebar, originally developed for us by Provoke.

If you follow the Geekzone blogs or forums and use Windows Vista make sure you download those gadgets.

If you are using Mac OS X or Konfabulator and would like to develop similar gadgets for these other platforms, please contact me.

At Kiwi Foo Camp 2008

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Feb-2008 10:50

I am in Warkworth (New Zealand) with other 150 technologists, developers, thinkers, writers, entrepreneurs participating in the second Kiwi Foo Camp, organised by O'Reilly's Nat Torkington and his crew.

It is an amazing mix of people and knowledge around here. Radio NZ is broadcasting live from the premises, discussions are going on almost around the clock - and this time we didn't get lost on the way here thanks to... technology (gotta love GPS, Google Maps Mobile and cellular data).

Talking about wireless data we have wireless LAN here, but you can imagine how a crowd of 150 technologists can quickly overload the tubes. So I am using my Telecom data card. I noticed that Telecom New Zealand has upgraded this site to CDMA EVDO since the same time last year, but Vodafone New Zealand still provides the same non-usable GPRS service around here.

The conversations around here are not NDA, but it's a matter of principle to only disclose things if you ask and receive a positive response.

I gotta go now for one of my sessions. Here are a few pictures from the opening:

Microsoft Mobile Notebook Initiative Solutions

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Feb-2008 09:42

A couple of days ago I received a press release from one of the companies exhibiting at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona... In the middle of the text there was this:

"Including Microsoft's new mobile notebook initiative solutions."

Believe me or not, I haven no idea what they are talking about - and I haven't got a reply through my channels.

So exactly what is this new thing?

Any ideas?

Welcome Slingshot to Geekzone

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Jan-2008 13:15

I would like to welcome Slingshot to Geekzone. We have created a Slingshot & CallPlus forum now, with a new user "Slingshot" that will represent Slingshot on the site.

More information on this forum entry.

Reeltime TV halts trading on ASX: legal movie downloads to be affected?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Jan-2008 11:38

For a while seemed like the only alternative for legal movie downloads in Australia and New Zealand.

Except that if you visit the site you will find there's a very little catalogue available - with movies that I wouldn't hire for a Tuesday soirée.

Now I see a press release from Reeltime Rentals, an U.S.-based company declaring they have nothing to do with Reeltime Media, an Australian company listed in the ASX. This press release came out because Reeltime (the Australia one) had asked the ASX to suspend trading of its ticker.

The Reeltime Media ASX page says:

Principal activities: Broadband TV Content aggregator and operator - direct from hollywood licensee for movie downloads - both rental and own. Company provides content & operations to ISP, retail and media partners. Company has aggregated content suitable for PC and Set Top Box IPTV delivery. Company also retails games and music via its online website

I don't see a decent on-line movie delivery in New Zealand anytime soon. Do you?

Office 2008 for Mac in stores now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Jan-2008 10:42

I just got the announcement from Microsoft that Office 2008 for Mac is available in stores througout New Zealand now.

I received a review copy last week - yes, we do have a couple of Apple Mac machines here at home, believe me we are not all Windows fanboys 100% of the time as some of you like to think - and it looks quite good.

Installation was really easy and the installer had no problems with the previous copy of Office for Mac already in the system. At the end of the install the old copy is automatically removed (if you select the option) and your old Identity files are automatically imported. This is quite important if have a huge email archive and connects to an Exchange Server.

Here's a list of things new and improved (long list):

Suitewide Features
•         Elements Gallery has been introduced as part of Office 2008 for Mac’s new user interface (UI). This new feature emphasises discoverability and gives users quick access to tools and Mac-specific features within applications in an intuitive, visually appealing and simple way. A Mac first!
•         OfficeArt is a powerful graphics engine — also used in the Windows-based Office 2007 products — that provides great cross-platform file fidelity and easy access to stunning visual and graphic effects. The OfficeArt engine runs all the graphics and image manipulation across the Office suite. From the Formatting Palette, users can realise a multitude of professional image effects, such as shadow effects, glows, reflections and stunning 3-D effects. Distortions, blurs, halftones, style and colour adjustments can polish pictures and presentations alike.
•         The Toolbox has been revamped to be a true one-stop destination for some of the most useful tools in Office for Mac. Incorporating the original Office for Mac Toolbox and Formatting Palette into a single user interface, this Mac-only feature will continue to give users instant access to the tools they need, including Object Palette, Animation Settings, Citations and Formula Builder.
•         Modern Themes and Styles in each application help users consistently apply a professional look and feel to documents and presentations.
•         Help Viewer makes it easy to get answers to computing questions.
•         Compatibility Reports allow users to confidently share information and ideas with nearly anyone on any platform. This feature analyses issues that may be problematic on another platform or version of Office and enables automatic fixes for them.
•         Scrapbook provides image and information storage, advanced searching, and direct input into a document. Through cut-and-paste or drag-and-drop functionality, the Scrapbook offers easy access to the most often used information and can be accessed from all four Office 2008 for Mac programs.
•         Unicode support enables input and display of approximately 50 languages in Office 2008 for Mac.
•         Microsoft AutoUpdate notifies users and enables for automatic Office updates when new patches or service releases are available.
•         Microsoft Error Reporting Tool enables users to immediately and anonymously report crashes to Microsoft for analysis and potential fixes.
•         AppleScripting improves and expands the AppleScript dictionary to allow better AppleScript programmability.

Word 2008
•         Document Elements simplifies and automates some of the most common but often difficult and tedious document tasks to help users easily build professional reports and papers. Cover pages, tables of contents, headers, footers and bibliographies can be chosen from a convenient thumbnail gallery, and added with a simple mouse click. A Mac first!
•         Publishing Layout View is a new specialised work space in Word that lets users easily create and edit content-rich documents such as newsletters, flyers and brochures by uncovering desktop publishing layout tools. A Mac first!
•         Dozens of new templates in Word 2008 give users a jump-start to great-looking documents.
•         New WordArt will help users make text more beautiful and artistic.
•         OpenType Ligature Support has been improved to support OpenType in Word 2008 and dramatically improves the text display on many fonts that support ligatures (e.g., Zapfino).
•         Citations is a new function that makes it easy to create citations and bibliographies by allowing one-click switching between styles.
•         Notebook Layout View enables users to quickly take notes, search and flag relevant information, and record audio directly into a Word document designed to look like notebook paper with new customisable work spaces and notebook appearance. It also enables users to add colour-coded tabs for a new level of organisation.
•         A more streamlined Mail Merge process makes it easy to quickly prepare and distribute newsletters, flyers and mailings.

Excel 2008
•         Ledger Sheets enables everyone to use Excel to handle common money-management tasks. Home and small-business users can balance cheque books, track accounts or manage inventory more easily than ever with the help of pre-formulated cells. A Mac first!
•         Increased rows and columns make Excel spreadsheets virtually limitless, with up to 16,000 columns and more than 1 million rows.
•         Formula Builder, found in the Excel 2008 Toolbox, walks users through the steps needed to create the perfect formula for any occasion. A Mac first!
•         Formula AutoComplete provides a drop-down menu for formula options that users can choose from once they have started typing a formula.
•         Building Charts help users easily create modern charts and modify their look and feel with the click of a button. New chart templates utilise the new OfficeArt graphics engine.

PowerPoint 2008
•         SmartArt takes users’ PowerPoint slides from bulleted text into the modern world of graphics to communicate their ideas visually.
•         The Object Palette gives users quick access to shapes, art, symbols and pictures, including iPhoto files.
•         Design templates, animations and transitions include more than 100 design templates, as well as smooth slide transitions and animations.
•         The Custom Layouts tool enables users to create and save customized slide layout templates to the PowerPoint Elements Gallery.
•         Dynamic Guides help users quickly align text and graphics for a crisp, clean slide design.
•         Thumbnail View provides a condensed look that makes it easier to ensure design consistency and improve the flow of a set of slides.
•         Improved Presenter Tools now feature both elapsed and actual time indicators, as well as a notes pane and thumbnail view of the entire presentations — all viewable only by the presenter.
•         New integration support lets users share presentations from a Mac to an iPod by saving as a PNG or JPG file.
•         PowerPoint 2008 takes full advantage of Apple Remote Control technology, allowing users to use the simple six-button functionality to control presentations.

Entourage 2008
•         My Day enables users to track priorities and stay on top of daily activities no matter what application they are working in. My Day is a compact stand-alone application that offers at-a-glance schedule and task viewing without launching Entourage, and lets users colour-code everything to visualise daily priorities. A Mac first!
•         To Do Lists give users an easy way to manage time and tasks more efficiently by displaying all items in one place.
•         Improved Entourage Calendar user interface includes colour-coded categories, status indicators and flexible to-do list management.
•         Junk e-mail and phishing protection is enhanced with new filtering capabilities.
•         Project Centre provides one simple way to view and stay on top of all e-mail messages, files, contacts, meetings and tasks related to a particular project. Users also can share project information with others to help keep them just as organized.
•         Improved Exchange support. Office 2008 for Mac and Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition feature the following updated features for users in an Exchange environment:
o Out of Office (OOF) Assistant enables Entourage users in Exchange environments to configure their Exchange account to send a custom auto-reply message to senders of incoming e-mail.
o Kerberos Single Sign-on Authentication automatically recognizes and authenticates new network passwords.
o Managed Folders gives IT managers additional tools to help them meet corporate archival policies by supporting Exchange 2007 document retention policies.
o Calendaring improvements include the following:
–        Accept, Tentative and Decline from the calendar. Calendar management actions are more straightforward and consistent with Outlook.
–        Meeting Update and Cancellation Improvements. Organizers will be able to choose whether to update attendees about a change or cancellation and include comments.
–        Meeting Reply, Reply All and Forward. Using Reply, Reply All and Forward, organizers can quickly correspond with meeting participants through e-mail without opening or changing the meeting.
–        Out of Date Invite Detection. Old invites are labelled “out of date,” and the Accept, Tentative and Decline buttons are disabled, leaving only the current invite active.
–        Invite Conflict and Adjacent Banners. When an invite comes in, its banner will indicate if there is an event conflict or if it runs up against another meeting.
–        No Response Requested Support. Entourage 2008 respects No Response Requested invites and will simply create the event on the calendar without sending a response.
–        Support for Availability Web Service. Entourage now takes advantage of the Availability Web Service to allow meeting organizers with permissions to see full free/busy details (location, subject, and status) when scheduling meetings.
–        Exchange 2007 Resource Booking. This new feature enables clients to book resources without requiring additional client overhead and UI complexity.

freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
New Zealand

I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I'm 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 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.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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