Before lunch (at the Wellington's famous Logan Brown) we had a brief review of Telecom's performance during 2007. Then we had a few bits of news (and I will quote from my notes):
- The Okta Touch is the fastest selling Windows Mobile device on Telecom ever - with about three times more sales than originally expected.
- The voicemail migration should be completed by January 2008 - a long project, which I remember being involved during early planning stages while working for Unisys New Zealand, until now provider of the Telecom VSP (voice platform).
- The Worldmode service will have some new handsets. If you don't know, "worldmode" are those handsets that can be used on the existing CDMA network and on overseas GSM/3G networks (and by the end of 2008 on the new Telecom network replacing the CDMA EVDO technology).
- Data roaming is coming for Worldmode so that you don't have to use CDMA only - and stuck in countries where there's no CDMA providers.
- The Okta Mondo should be announced next week, the second Worldmode handset from Telecom New Zealand.
- The LG Groove is coming next month - a media-oriented handset with special media keys (it reminds me of those MP3 players) and built-in FM transmitter.
- Telecom New Zealand is working on launching a Worldmode BlackBerry handset. Initially they are working on testing internally at Gen-i, but soon with external clients.
- They are working on a Samsung Blackjack Windows Mobile device codenamed Albero, also to be a Worldmode handset, due to release sometime near the end of Q1 2008.
- A free security software is coming for Yahoo!Xtra (Bubble) users.
- More broadband business plans are coming in addition to currently existing residential plans.
- Telecom New Zealand will move into the business services during 2008 including hosted applications.
In summary, as Greg McAlister said:
Embracing the new opportunities and looking forward to operating as a service provider in the new environment
It seems everyone there is quite happy with Telecom's new CEO, Paul Reynolds. Good luck in 2008...
The upper management wanted BlackBerry devices because they wanted whatever the guy sitting next to them in the airplane had.
The people working in the front wanted a device that could actually be used for something else than just e-mail.
My suggestion was Windows Mobile - mainly because it was the platform that could easily access their private network through a HTTPS VPN proxy they already had in place, and because it would be much easier to deploy e-mail synchronisation with their Exchange Servers through SSL, without having to invest in additional hardware for a BES server.
One year later I still consider this solution the best option. Take in consideration that now Microsoft is coming out with tools that allow Windows Mobile devices to join a domain and IT administrators have the ability to manage those mobile devices as they would manage any other computer on their network.
The recently announced Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 is looking like a great tool for IT administrators to keep an eye on mobile devices inside the organisation.
Now I read this interesting post about database synchronisation betwen mobile devices and server. The platform runs on SQL Server and SQL Server Compact 3.1 using Merger Replication technologies:
I decided to double the number of concurrent Subscribers to 600. Keep in mind that each Subscriber is equivalant to a Windows Mobile device. I used 6 servers running 100 Subscribers each to create client load, 3 load-balanced IIS servers, and a separate SQL Server Distributor and Publisher. With 600 concurrent Subscribers contending for resources, I managed to perform 22,401 syncs per hour which is slightly fewer syncs than I saw when running only 300 Subscribers back in Vegas. The important story here is that I almost doubled the number of rows I changed and replicated per hour:
- Rows changed: 13,440,600 per hour | 322,574,400 per day
- Data replicated: 1.45 GB per hour | 34.8 GB per day
Database is a very cool technology and having the ability to "mobilise" data is one of the most important parts of mobility in my view.
This will be the fourth year NZTE attends the event with some local technology companies. NZTE is the New Zealand government's national economic development agency.
This year’s theme will focus on enhanced communication between humans and computers. Visitors to the stand will be able to see and work with interactive technologies, see a robot in operation, as well as experience demonstrations of telematic technologies and banking applications.
This is a list with companies and technologies participating this year, from the press release:
Human-Computer Interaction: Technology for all the senses
NextWindow is a designer and developer of touch screen products, designed for a variety of applications, including after-market touch sensitive overlays to Interactive WhiteBoard touch and annotation. NextWindow will be showing multi-touch capability, and object size recognition, both new functionalities in the large touch screen market.
Massive Software (www.massivesoftware.com)
Massive Software provides a premier 3D animation system for generating crowd-related visual effects for film and television. The animation and simulation software is used by filmmakers, engineers, architects and robot developers. The company will host Hanson Robotics’ robot Zeno at the show which uses a Massive Software brain to interact with its environment.
Simtrix Ltd (www.simtrix.co.nz)
Simtrix is a leader in research, design, and marketing of breakthrough technologies within the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Simtrix has developed the Swiftpoint device - a radically different computer mouse (or pointing device) that is operated between the index finger and thumb eliminating the need for additional desktop space.
Aranz Scanning Ltd (www.aranz.com)
Aranz develops and supplies handheld 3D laser surface scanning systems and software for acquiring, processing and quantitative analysis of 3D surface data. Examples of integration projects include a mask making system for creating immobilisation masks for radiotherapy and facilitating a faster and less invasive way to create prosthetics and orthotics than the more traditional casting methods.
Banking: Secure and easy to use solutions for the banking industry
Fronde Anywhere (www.frondeanywhere.com)
Fronde Anywhere offers mobile banking, payment and multi-factor authentication solutions for retail banks and other players in the financial services industry. Its portfolio of user-friendly solutions enables customers to make payments and bank transactions via their mobile device from any location.
Vcomms offers a new generation of Financial Transaction Network solutions. The company delivers a range of secure wireless connectivity solutions that enable Cash Machine (ATM), Kiosk and Electronic Point Of Sale (EPOS) terminals to connect to transaction processors and banks over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. Vcomms provides solutions to customers in the banking, telecommunications, independent ATM deployer and OEM sectors.
Business Software: Easing the way we work at a mouse-click
Author-it Software Corporation (www.author-it.com)
Author-it is the complete solution for the creation, management and publication of content across the whole enterprise. From software user assistance and training, to sales proposals, to product manuals, to marketing collateral, to policies and procedures.
Centruflow Ltd (www.centruflow.com)
Centruflow’s world-leading suite of products enables users to visually inspect and understand the data that is important to their business. Centruflow draws pictures that can be easily understood and trusted. It visually connects people to knowledge, linking actions to consequences.
Pivot Ltd (www.pivot.net.nz)
Pivot offers HR software for remuneration management leading to improved organisational efficiency and employee engagement. Its flagship product – Remuneration Decision Assistant (R.D.A.) manages the critical workflow process of pay reviews through leading edge web-based technology eliminating the more typical spreadsheet or manual processes.
Starsoft Limited (www.starsoft.co.nz)
Starsoft’s EziDoesIT software is an add-in for Microsoft Outlook 2003 and 2007 which allows users to visually prioritise emails into tasks and then schedule these tasks automatically into the Outlook Calendar according to their priority. The team edition allows managers to maximise work resources for meeting project and task scheduling goals.
Telematics: Technology that shows you the way
Daestra NZ Ltd (www.daestra.com)
Daestra NZ provides advanced telematic B2B software solutions that will change the way business is done. Its flagship consumer product TracPlus™ showcases Daestra’s technology's ability to seamlessly integrate global tracking across land, sea and air markets in a single solution, regardless of what sensor technology is used.
International Telematics (www.itelematic.com)
International Telematics is a leader in the design and development of telematic hardware and software solutions. This includes GPS tracking, remote vehicle diagnostics (OBDII & CAN), temperature monitoring, managed telematic platforms, accident metrics and driver behaviour.
Imarda is a global company specialising in Telematics hardware products and software solutions for fleet management. Uniquely, Imarda provides complete Telematics solution from end-to-end ensuring the integration of technical compatibility between hardware and software is totally seamless.
Immigration and Employment Service: Living and Working in New Zealand
Hudson Recruitment and Immigration NZ (www.immigration.govt.nz, www.hudson.com)
Hudson, a market leader in IT recruitment, and the government authority Immigration New Zealand assist ICT professionals and people from different industries to start a career in New Zealand. Hudson and Immigration NZ are especially looking to recruit IT experts at CeBIT.
New Zealand’s IT industry pavilion at CeBIT
The pavilion situated in Hall 14 Stand G38 is part of an initiative run by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE). NZTE supports New Zealand’s IT and telecommunications industry in Europe and aims to highlight the technology expertise within New Zealand. NZTE serves as a point of contact for international importers, agents, distributors, traders and investors with innovative companies from New Zealand. There are 39 NZTE branches, including offices in London, UK and Hamburg, Germany.
There is even a NZTE at CeBIT blog where you can get up-to-date information.
There are more than 80 auctions including "Behind the scenes Tour of Weta workshop", a couple of Big Day out tickets, "Auckland Engineering Base Tour" and "Fly a Boeing 777 simulator". More items are coming soon.
What about two months of unlimited business class travel around the world for two people? Or Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe cooking dinner at your place?
All money raised goes to Make-A-Wish, StarJam and the Starship Foundation, helping children all over New Zealand.
This is an excerpt from a Q&A with Microsoft Office Product Manager Reed Shaffner:
PressPass: What are you announcing today and what does it mean for customers?
Shaffner: We’re announcing the availability of Service Pack 1 (SP1) for the 2007 Microsoft Office system, which delivers significant stability, performance and security improvements. These enhancements span the software applications and servers that home and office workers use each day and will make the 2007 Office system an even more robust and effective productivity tool. In essence, SP1 targets the issues that customers told us mattered to them most.
PressPass: What are the main improvements that customers will notice with SP1 for the 2007 Office system?
Shaffner: SP1 provides stability and performance improvements across the 2007 Office system, keying in on customers’ leading productivity concerns, and beefs up security precautions to stay ahead of the latest threats from malicious software and other risks.
Crashes are one of the most frustrating experiences customers have, and the team worked hard with SP1 to make our products more stable. We’ve also included most of the previously-released hotfixes that also help reduce the incidence of crashes in Office applications.
SP1 also provides key fixes and enhancements to make the 2007 Office system more reliable and easier to use. For example, SP1 addresses problems customers have experienced in Outlook 2007 when opening large mail files. It also delivers more accurate presence information in Microsoft Office Communicator to help improve collaboration and communication for customers.
We also did a lot of work to improve the reliability of the 2007 Office system’s server components with SP1.
We know that search is really important to our enterprise customers using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, so we spent a lot of time improving indexing to help make documents and information easier to find. SP1 includes support for AJAX deployments, which should help developers create custom Web Parts for their customers. Finally, SP1 bolsters the robust security standards built into Office 2007 by incorporating the very latest advances in security technology to deliver even greater protection against malware, privacy intrusions and other threats.
SharePoint Server 2007 and other server products are also now compatible with Microsoft Windows Server 2008, giving customers the peace of mind they need to proceed with upgrade plans.
PressPass: How can customers get SP1?
Shaffner: Customers can download SP1 immediately from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/downloads/default.aspx. They can also place an order for a CD at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx. At a later date, we also will provide SP1 through automatic update.
Shame. I was really looking forward to playing with that... How long we will have to wait now, with network brownout during the holiday?
Last week we gave away a copy of Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007. This week we are giving away a bundle of Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate and Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 - a BIG prize.
In the coming weeks we have Microsoft Lifecam for laptops, laptop speakers, Xbox 360 games, CoPilot 7 for Windows Mobile, AVG Anti-virus and much more.
Also, one of our Geekzone readers is giving away until Christmas copies of his SpeakMediaASR software. Just check the forum post for this.
Make sure to stop by our Geekzone competition page to see if we have any competition running.
Microsoft New Zealand has started planning the launch activites for Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008. These activities include a "2008 Summer Roadtrip".
Chris Auld and Jeremy Boyd are going to be touring the country showing off all the stuff in Windows Server (Virtualisation, IIS, etc), SQL Server (File Stream, Spatial data types & queries, etc) and Visual Studio (LINQ, CSS designers, etc). In each location they will be joined by a local speaker.
These are the dates:
If you are available in any of these dates, come in for more information on these platforms and tools. Darryl's got more information on his MSDN blog.
PS. When you register you enter the draw to win one of two server hardware, Windows Home Server software and more. And you get another entry in the draw if you invite a friend.
A lot of companies (and for some time I had a list of those) have nicely designed websites with beautiful description of their services, brilliant pictures of their products - but they simply don't have anyone who cares to answer questions posted by web visitors that fill the "contact us" forms.
My latest experience? ALK Technologies gave everyone of us attending the Mobius 2007 in Amsterdam a copy of CoPilot 7 for Windows Mobile. It works really well, and I installed it on my Pocket PC to find my way around the city.
But when it comes to answer a simple question I posted through their support contact form... The whole "great software" thing comes down to pretty bad service - and still no answer to a simple question.
When I started Geekzone I sent an e-mail to a technology company with offices in Australia. The e-mail had a Delivery Notification request. I received twenty five notifications - and no reply. That's right. I had the entire office structure, with e-mail addresses of twenty five different people who read my e-mail, and not a single person replied to it.
Because of this -and previous bad experiences with this company's products - I never used them again. And if you read the Geekzone forums you will see that I actively tell people to stay away from them.
Another example of how spending money in technology still looks like an after thought and people still don't take ownership? Take BP New Zealand for example. A few years ago I had some questions regarding their products (at the time their new Ultimate fuel) and filled a "contact us" form.
I instantly received a non-delivery notification because the form script was sending the information to email@example.com, a non-existing e-mail address.
So BP invested in creating a website, but the outsourced team at Sytec time didn't test it and didn't bother using correct contacts in the form? I wonder if the BP team ever thought how strange people never contacted them through that old website.
Note that this was some years ago. Sytec is now TelstraClear, and the BP website is completely different. But the example stands.
Sprite Archie is a SMS and call log archiver - and it's really good at that, yet very simple.
After you install it you set Sprite Archie to monitor your communications (SMS, voice calls) and the software will log every incoming and outgoing activity as an e-mail sent to a nominated account with timestamp information and the message (for SMS). You can set Sprite Archie to send out a message for every activity or a daily digest.
Mind you this is not a SMS backup solution, but a communications archiver - it will not copy your SMS, although the message is sent as part of the e-mail.
If you are interested, check the Sprite beta tester discussion to download the software.