I use two providers for mobile data: Telecom New Zealand (CDMA EVDO Rev A) and Vodafone New Zealand (HSDPA).
Telecom provides me a much better experience in New Zealand with better CDMA EVDO coverage than Vodafone's HSDPA service. And sometimes much faster too. Vodafone, on the other hand, provides me with data cards that I can actually use while overseas.
Mind you I don't use Vodafone data roaming overseas anymore, because it costs NZ$30 per megabyte when I am in the US. So I just use their data cards with some overseas SIM card. But I digress. I actually use Vodafone here in New Zealand when I can't get onto the Telecom network for some reason - and their coverage not always coincide so it's good to have both options.
Last night I downloaded the latest software for the Telecom hardware I have here (the Sierra Wireless AirCard 595 PCMCIA and the Sierra Wireless 595U USB). I installed the software and had both devices working in less than five minutes.
I proceeded with the Vodafone software. I have a Novatel Merlin XU870 Express Card and the Huwaei E220 (vodem). The Vodafone New Zealand website lists the VMC 9.1 as the latest supporting these. I downloaded it, the slowest possible connection to their servers and installed. It took about 90 minutes to get both devices working.
Then I found out the VMC 9.1 software causes some problems, such as disabling the built-in WiFi while connected and the solution is VMC 9.2 - which is supposedly available in the Vodafone Business website (a corporate site, not the Vodafone New Zealand site).
Good luck trying to find the software though. If you browse the site by OS, the Windows Vista page says the latest version is VMC 9.1 (which I already have) and actually says the Merlin XU870 is not supported (when I know it is). If you browse by hardware, the Merlin XU870 page says the latest is the VMC 6.0 released in 2005 (way before the Merlin XU870 HSDPA was even released?).
But I can't find th VMC 9.2.
Is it really hard for Vodafone to actually make things easy for their users? I guess after the ten days roaming fiasco between Vodafone Australia and Vodafone New Zealand we can expect anything.
Also worth checking are the pictures and captions for each post - an example posted here.
The blog is no fail. You can read a Wired Q&A with the author Ted Dziuba.
Just before my Windows Home Server crashed I had installed the Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 Release Candidate. As Ed points out it's not a public beta and in the hands only a few people who have ben testing Windows Home Server heavily.
My plan was to exactly test the new server backup functionality. Alas the unreliable Maxtor drive caused the whole thing to come down and the WD drive just is not good enough.
But let's look at the good side: the server is up again, now with 100% Seagate storage and working well. I managed to talk to the store where I bought the WD drive and I am able to return it - in which case I will get anothe Seagate drive and use it as the server backup.
This new feature (screenshot below) allows users to designate a drive to be used as a backup of user content on the Windows Home Server. Even with duplication you may have problems - what happens if the server is stolen or the house burns down?
With server backup you will be able to copy the files to an external unit and take it away with you or have it on a secure location.
Another new feature in the Windwos Home Power Pack 1 is the support for Windows Vista 64 bit. The original Windows Home Server did not have a Connector for that OS, but now users will have this option.
Upload and download of files to the home server is now easier when using a web browser. Also when downloading files you have the option of downloading multiple files in ZIP format or on a new self extracting format.
I still find a couple of problems though, mainly the Path Too Deep errors that happen when a very large file (more than 4 GB) is copied to the shared folders within the server itself (files copied from other PCs on the network are fine).
I don't know when the Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 is being released but it is already in the Release Candidate stages, so it should be soon.
But technology failed me, horriby.
First the Maxtor OneTouch 1TB drive died - again. I bought the original Maxtor OneTouch 1TB drive in April 2006. Through December 2007 it was replaced twice because of failures. This time it is out of warranty and I am not ever going back to a Maxtor now. Three units failures in less than two years?
Because of this my Windows Home Server died. I had the Duplication option set but it seems the Maxtor crash was too much and I had to reinstall Windows Home Server from scratch. Which was a bit of pain because it didn't like the first HDD already partitioned. The solution was to get a Windows Server install DVD and use it to delete the partitions and start the install again.
To replace the Maxtor I bought a WD MyBook 750GB. What a bad decision. I should have searched first. This drive goes to sleep when there is no activity and the only way to mount it back is by unplugging it and plugging again. This is not good for a home server. There are lots of reports of this problem and Western Digital seems not to respond support requests.
The end result? Windows Home Server noticed the drive "unplugged" and couldn't remove it without a reboot.
Now I am using this drive as a backup only. I can't return it because I don't have the original box any more and I found the problem after a few days only because the drive was always up while Windows Home Server copied things.
The solution will be to go back to the shop and buy a Seagate Agent. Those drives are perfect. I have a 160GB for my laptop, plus a 500GB and 320GB on my Windows Home Server and they work ok.
As for Windows Vista on my laptop, I scheduled a boot time CHKDSK and Windows Vista wouldn't start up.
I spent Saturday evening reinstalling Windows Vista, Office and the other basic tools I need. Since my Windows Home Server died just before the trip I didn't have all the files available for restore, but luckily I use Carbonite for on-line backup and I am restoring the files from the storage on the cloud.
Also while installing Windows Vista I decided to go for 32 bit this time. I was getting sick and tired of not having 64 bit drivers or having to download different versions of programs - even Microsoft doesn't generate 64 bit applications - there's no Office 64 bit and Windows Home Server doesn't currently have a 64 bit connector.
So this is how I spent the last three days of my holidays...
I agree with Zoli's comments:
"The Land of Oz is already in 2008. Too bad they ring in the new year with a controversy over government censorship. Good intentions aside, letting Big Brother grow on people is never a good idea. Governments can not, and should not take over the family’s responsibility. It’s a slippery road… governments by their very nature tend to expand: porn filtering today, political views tomorrow - we know where it leads.
If you are a parent, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, YOU (and not the government) have the joy and responsibility of bringing the children to a safe and better world."
A dubious filter today can be turned into a political tool tomorrow. It's dangerous. Don't let this monster come in sneakily.
Have a good 2008.
I will close comments here about the 5th January 2008... Let's see if any old timers will know this.
The program will be released soon - just follow the countdown at There Is No Place Like Home - but if you want to see some action, check the Flickr and the YouTube pages with some images and footage.
Just about time too. I think we desperately need an update in the user interface. Spb Mobile Shell is good but still looks "old" fashion. I wonder how well this works with devices such as HTC Touch?
I remember using Netscape since its first version on a Windows 3.1 environment, with Trumpet Winsock.
For nostalgic people AOL suggests downloading the Mozilla Firefox and add the Netscape theme.
I will still be connected via e-mail, but we will probably have less posts here in my blog or on Geekzone. Of course if something big comes up we will write about it, but you should just assume we are now all in holiday mode.
All the best, keep the discussion going in our Geekzone forums if you must (I will reply there too and I've seen in the last five years that things never really stopped). Or just join the Geekzone Chat because we always have people around there.
See you all again soon!