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Mobius 2007: Samsung SGH-i620 in the flesh

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Nov-2007 22:48

The Mobius conference has started here in Amsterdam and we had an opportunity to introduce ourselves and talk about the devices of choice, why we prefer those, etc.

Now we are listening to Jason Langridge who is talking about some new Windows Mobile applications and devices.

The Samsung SGH-i620 is a device I've seen before when it was being tested by Vodafone New Zealand but I wasn't allowed to talk about it. So here it is now:



It is a very small slider device, running Windows Mobile 6 Standar (Smartphone, no touch screen). It is HSDPA-enabled and really a good looking device.

I don't have information on when Vodafone New Zealand will be selling these, but I understand they are available in Europe now.

The Samsung SGH-i620 is using the same "carrousel" user interface you find in the Palm Treo 500v, which will be a standard for all Vodafone handhelds soon.

Also, Jason pointed out that the highly expected Office Mobile 6.1 is now available. It is a free upgrade for users that already have Office Mobile on their devices, and it will be available for purchase from Handango sometime soon if you don't this in your device.



Mobius 2007: In Amsterdam - the flight here

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Nov-2007 18:15

And I am here in Amsterdam now, in my first visit to this city, to attend the Mobius conference (also a first).

So what was good and not so on this trip so far?

First I managed to get upgraded to the Air New Zealand business class all the way from Auckland to London. This is great because Auckland to Los Angeles is a twelve hour overnight flight, and Los Angeles to London is another nine hour flight. The good thing about the Air New Zealand business class is the individual pods with flat beds.

The stop in Los Angeles is only a couple of hours, and you are supposed to be in the transit lounge. But for the business class passengers there's the option to clear the U.S. immigration, walk back to the terminal and visit the Koru Lounge.

I immediatelty left the aeroplane, walked through immigration and customs in less than 15 minutes total - and was stopped in my tracks by the TSA.

When you travel to and through the U.S. you will be in contact with at least three government agencies: immigration, customs and TSA.

I never had problems with the first two. But the TSA... Be prepared for long queues and employees who will look at you with a blank stare and simply "not think".

When I was reentering the terminal I showed my original boarding pass and photo ID (passport). He asked where is my boarding pass. I told him "that's it - it says London Heathrow with today's date". But he wanted one issued in LAX.

So I walked back to an Air New Zealand counter, asked for a new boarding pass and the person behind the counter was amused "they should not ask for a new one".

Well, explain this to the TSA - the Air New Zealand agreement works well with immigration and customs, but not the TSA.

Anyway, I had 90 minutes to have a shower, walk and eat something more substantial in the lounge - but at the boarding time Air New Zealand warned the departure would be delayed for technical reasons.

I think I made the right decision going through directly to the lounge, because everyone else in business class started pouring into the lounge - by then I had at least two hours ahead of the crowd and was able to relax instead of rushing around trying to get to the showers, food, drinks, arm chairs, etc...

The flight to London arrived a few hours late, but by the time I had deplaned in Heathrow Air New Zealand had me booked into another flight to Amsterdam.

London Heathrow is just a mess - hundreds of people waiting for a bus to change terminals, but not enough busses going around. And lots of work in progress. And it looks old. But the pizza was good.

Arriving in Amsterdam was refreshing. The airport is modern and nice. The immigration and customs must be the totalitarian governments worst nightmare: the immigration officer looked at my passport and applied a stamp - no scanning, no fingerprinting, no digital photo, no forms to fill. The same with customs.

Another thing was the impressive size of this airport. Not even in LAX or MIA I've seen this: the aeroplane landed exactly on time and it took 15 minutes rolling on the tarmac to reach the terminal. I've been 60 minutes in an aeroplane in MIA, but not moving, just waiting in the line for the terminal to be ready.

It is cold here, but not worse than back in Wellington at the moment though. Let's see how the next week goes.



Telecom fibre plans no surprise, says Paul Budde

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Nov-2007 12:23

When I wrote about Telecom New Zealand's cabinetisation plans I got a few comments as in "you are being paid by Telecom" and so on.

My point was simply that LLU is too late, and with wrong focus, Telecom is doing what they said two years ago and the competitors simply don't understand - or don't want to - the telco market that well.

There is a long discussion on Geekzone already, and quite a few people actually agreed with this view.

And now from Paul Budde:


Telecom Cabinets Analysis - Shortsighted Industry

However, I was very critical about the industry whose total focus was to get some quick fixes to the wholesale regime in relation to local loop unbundling. Telecom had made it very clear that it would take until 2008 before new wholesale products would become available.

BuddeComm consistently warned that New Zealand was fighting battles which occurred in Europe in the early 00s and in Australia in the mid 00s and that in the meantime the world had moved on and that by 2008, also in New Zealand, the discussion would have moved on to fibre networks. Unfortunately nobody at that time wanted to seriously discuss that issue and started to beaver away in what we called old-world wholesale issues.

Telecom fibre plans are no surprise

Based on our analyses of Telecom NGN plans, going back to the early 00s, we were certain that Telecom did have a plan which would see them moving deeper into fibre networks, as a matter of fact we had mentioned the company at several occasions in our global research reports as being one of the early adopters of this new concept and their GEN-I initiative also made it very clear to us where their future thinking was. It therefore didn’t come as a surprise to us that they announced their new fibre plans in the way they did it, making 2,000 copper based exchanges obsolete in this process.

However, we are very disappointed that Telecom at the same didn’t indicate how they are going to take the rest of the industry with them on this exiting new path. This is certainly against the sentiment that I first encountered in May 2006 and that we have quite publicly supported over the last 18 month.

As a matter of fact the lack of a visionary national approach could potentially set the country back many years, basically throwing it back into the dark days of the monopoly. Surely the new structural separation legislation will eventually assist the industry. However, without Telecom’s support that could take many years.


More and more I see people agreeing with the view I and some others here share...



Provider botches e-mail migration

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Nov-2007 07:13

Let's say your ISP decided to migrate its rather large user base from their own e-mail servers to a third party provider.

And imagine that in the process people receive mixed instructions, conflicting results, and seemingly loss of e-mails happens?

Are we talking about the Telecom New Zealand's Yahoo!Xtra Bubble problems?

Nope. we are actually talking about the British ISP Sky migration of its one million users to Google Apps.

Users' e-mails were migrated to the Google Apps platform. No e-mails were actually reported lost, but instead of having the POP e-mail option automatically enabled on Google Mail (it is off by default), people had to manually do it. If you didn't then no e-mail for you.

Of course changing the e-mail provider meant changing some settings in the e-mail client. For example users now need to add @sky.com to their login, which they didn't need before, and other minor changes. All in a ten pages PDF!

If you think that ten pages of instructions is not enough, then check the e-mail users received announcing the migration (supposing you actually got the e-mail before the migration, because otherwise you wouldn't be able to receive any without knowing something has changed).

I know there are no reports of terrible things so far, such as the bad spam filtering experience Xtra users felt - when legitimate e-mails were never delivered, being trapped in the spam folders that users didn't even know existed. But  I can only imagine how many of those one million users will have no access to their e-mails for days and week to come while trying to reach overloaded help desk people.



New Zealand Connections wiki

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Nov-2007 19:24

A few Geekzone users got together some time ago and started an ambitious project: to create a repository with signifcant information on New Zealand broadband.

Visitors to New Zealand Connections will find a lot of information about Internet service providers, mobile service providers and landline service providers.

For each of the areas the site covers lists all providers, plans and price comparisons, troubleshooting information, configuration settings, technology in use, detailed write ups of each provider and link to providers and references.

The New Zealand Connections (NZ Connections) was created in a wiki style, so others can join and help adding information to the site.

Contributions are welcome and needed as there is plenty to be added yet... You can discuss, suggest and give opinion in our forums.








Geekzone giveaways: looking back and planning for 2008

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Nov-2007 10:39

I am just looking through this year's competitions and giveaways on Geekzone, and what a cool list! Check it out, from the most recent:

- Microsoft Windows Home Server
- HTC Titan Pocket PC Phone (Telecom New Zealand)
- Symantec Norton Internet Security 2008
- Microsoft Windows Home Server
- Heavenly Sword for Playstation 3
- Halo 3 Collector's Edition
- Palm Treo 700wx Pocket PC Phone (Telecom New Zealand)
- Microsoft Windows Live OneCare
- Sprite Mobile Swipe for Windows Mobile
- BlueAnt Bluetooth Interphone
- Xbox Live Gold Subscription
- Microsoft Fable for PC Game for Windows
- Microsoft Rise of Legends for PC Game for Windows
- Blackbox M14 Noise Cancellation headphones
- Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (five copies)

Very soon we will also be giving away a copy of Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007. And yes, we had two copies of Windows Home Server to give away in distinct dates.

Thanks to all our friends who supplied the goods in the list: BlueAnt, Microsoft, Phitek, Sony, Sprite Software, Symantec and Telecom New Zealand.

If you want to give some of your products away on Geekzone, contact me now.



Help Crystal win a dream baby shower

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Nov-2007 08:52

Crystal needs your help to win a dream baby shower in a radio contest. Go on, vote for her.

My personal friend Jason Dunn has written about Crystal's battle with cancer before: the family found out about her terminal condition just a couple of months after their baby girl was born.

Crystal’s husband Tony isn’t working because he has to care for her and his daughter, so any funds you can donate to help them out would be greatly appreciated by them and by myself.

If you voted for Crystal and want to do more, donate here. And if you are a Digger, vote here:
http://digg.com/offbeat_news/Cancer_Killing_Young_Mom_Your_Opportunity_to_Help



Telecom New Zealand cabinetisation plans

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Nov-2007 08:02

To summarise the whole issue with Telecom's announced cabinetisation from my point of view:

1.Most entrants seem to have low knowledge of telco market and technologies otherwise they would have seen this coming

2.Most entrants have bad strategists and architects that couldn't figure out 12 or 24 months ago what would happen when Telecom New Zealand put out their plans (or didn't want to)

3.Most entrants seem to still believe that someone else should bear the investment costs while they only "co-locate"

4.Most entrants are likely to be "naturals" and put their hardware where the money is - no investments anywhere else but the most profitable areas leaving it to the incumbent to do it anywhere else, then asking for access.

5.Most people on the street and mainstrean media bash Telecom New Zealand because they are Telecom New Zealand, regardless of they actually doing a good job in deploying technology.

I know it's not a freeload ride. Entrants have to pay fees to use the facilities. But excuse me while I disagree with everyone else, and the government. Local Loop Unbundling is not good in itself. It just means entrants have the option of not investing in infrastructure, leaving this to the incumbent.

I was talking to Vodafone New Zealand's Paul Brislen and he said something along the lines of "but [with LLU] smaller companies can increase their market share slowly, building up the capital for later investment".

I believe this only if there would be a provision like "for every dollar you pay to co-locate you have to invest a % in new infrastructure". But most companies would just cry "new tax on business!". Truth is, companies want the maximum return at lowest possible investment.

The current exceptions are TelstraClear and Citylink which have deployed their own infrastructure in certain parts of the country.

And WorldxChange seems to know what they are talking about, if we go by what they posted in our forums.

This is one interesting comment from a reader:


Yes it's a little bit rich when one of those companies complaing happens to be the 16th largest company in the world and the largest Telco in the world.

They could roll out their own network tomorrow and then offer it to their 'small isp' buddies tomorrow.

I won't be holding my breath...



First few days with Windows Server 2008 live

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Nov-2007 19:20

It's been a couple of days now since Geekzone went live on a Windows Server 2008 platform. So far I am happy with the results. We tested the OS for a few weeks before going live, and we expected a few adjustments to be needed - nothing major though.

Now for a list of software working fine on the server...

We extensively use Hamachi as a private network. Hamachi works under Windows Server 2008, except that you will need to turn UAC off to have it running as a service, otherwise it won't start. There are ways around this but it involves some tweaking that you must do before the program is first started. In our case UAC is off.

We also have Diskeeper 2008 Enterprise running on Windows Server 2008. And it works perfectly. Great defragmentation software for your server!

The anti-virus solution is NOD32, although in our test servers Avast Server also did well.

HandyBackup Pro performs a great job copying the database backups to two different FTP servers every evening.

CsImageFile is a COM object we use to resize and manipulate images. I found it when in our first week testing Windows Server 2008 it was clear the old software wouldn't work - ever. So I contacted ChestySoft and got a prompt and positive reply. And it works exactly the way we need.

Another COM object on this server is FontVelocity, mainly used for manipulating graphics and text for my wife's site mywedding. It worked with no problems throughout the upgrade from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008.

And  one of the most important software we use here: LogMeIn IT Reach, for remote management. We actualy block Remote Desktop connections at the firewall level (although it goes through when using the Hamachi VPN), and instead rely on LogMeIn for remote access and management. Great tool you should have on your server.

I haven't tested Acronis Enterprise because their support has replied to my inquiries saying that there won't be official support until the OS is released. Acronis touches a very sensitive area: the disk subsystem, so I decided to keep it out of the loop - unless someone from Acronis contact me and confirm it works so I can test it and deploy. The problem with Acronis is that every time you contact them you get someone different replying to your e-mails, even if it's an open case...

We did find a problem between Firefox and IIS 7.0 redirections. I submitted this as a case to Microsoft Support, but after some investigation I found the fault and managed to create a workaround. I am going to raise this as a bug on Connect, but the workaround works fine and does not impact in the functionality we need.

To give you an idea of the workload on this machine, we serve approximately 500,000 unique users a month, not counting the RSS feeds (currently over 10,000 daily users with an average 60 minute refresh interval).

Overall I am happy with this upgrade install - looking forward to installing the RTM on this machine in a few months time....



Now I need to install Microsoft Office Communicator

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Nov-2007 12:10

I was invited to attend the Microsoft Unified Communications 2007 launch here in Auckland. The day started with a media brief where Microsoft GM Unified Communications Kim Akers gave us an overview of the technology and drivers behind the current push into the unified market.

We also heard from Nortel and HP about their delivery capabilities, and all sounds really cool... I have been waiting for a consistent "unified" approach to communications for years - back at Unisys I was the architect for a couple of projects involving desktop VoIP, voice mail and web integration but this launch today is really something beyond that - very exciting seeing all this finally coming together.

The Microsoft Unified Communications suite includes Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsft Office Communications Server, Microsoft Office Communicator and Microsoft Live Meeting. And of course Nortel, HP and others are providing services and products that complement the platform. 

After the briefing we all got some bags with documents and product information but Nortel went beyond and provided each one of us with the new LG-Nortel IP USB Phone 8501 (pictured).

Now I have to get the software from MSDN to try it... And since the LG-Nortel phone only works with Microsoft Communicator I managed to get a second handset from a journalist who couldn't see himself using it - cool.

I know AnywhereExchange was running a trial of Exchange Server Outlook Voice Access. I wonder if they will be providing a hosted Office Communications Server product? We currently use VoIP in our home and home office and it would be great integrating all our communications resources - specially since I am travelling so much these days.



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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