My window to the world

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 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:

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.

Attending Mobius in Amsterdam

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Nov-2007 11:43

I am attending the Microsoft Unified Communications launch in Auckland today and I have just realised my trip to Amsterdam starts Monday, not Friday week as I was thinking. Less time to do things before I leave New Zealand!

I will be attending the Mobius conference in Amsterdam:

Mobius is an invitation-only community of the world's most influential technology pundits and online writers. The collective insights, opinions and influence of Mobius drives market trends, industry buzz and the buying behavior of people worldwide. Mobians interact behind the scenes with companies big and small to shape the direction of devices, services, pricing, design and the culture of consumer technology.

Mobius is about a never-ending conversation where Microsoft plays a hands-off facilitator role for periodic events and discussions about a broad-range of technology issues, mobile devices and consumer electronics.

But beyond any sponsor, Mobius is simply a community of people who support each other as they follow topics related to the mobility landscape.

This sounds exciting, and it's the first time I am attending it. I will be meeting some old friends and geting to know new people.

Most of the sessions are not covered by a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) so I will be able to blog about the experience during the conference. I know we have HTC, Qualcomm and others already aligned to drive sessions, gather the group's feedback and more.

My trip is being partially funded by Microsoft Corp.

Geekzone is now running Windows Server 2008 RC

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Nov-2007 14:57

This has been a long project! A few months back I was talking to Darryl Burling during one of our weekly coffee meetings  and he asked "why don't you try running Geekzone on Windows Server 2008?"...

Indeed why not.

After asking around and receiving some good feedback I decided to apply for the Go Live licence and install Windows Server 2008 in our servers.

I really wanted to test it beforehand. Thanks to Acronis I was able to duplicate the exact Geekzone environment (Windows Server 2003) and run it as a virtual machine under Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1.

On this virtual machine I tried the migration to SQL 2005 and the upgrade to Windows Server 2008.

I tested it during three weeks, finding some problems during the experiment - breaking things, restoring the virtual HD file and trying again.

After all those tests I finally had the confidence to go for it on the real box. The total upgrade took about two hours on the actual machine (a dual proc Xeon 3 GHz box).

My first impression is how responsive the UI is. Also it looks like Windows Vista in many aspects and it's easy to use. There are some new features that I will be trying soon. The next thing I notice is that pages are actually faster now - to create and load.

For Microsoft this is another showcase: Geekzone is now one of the top 15 New Zealand websites in number of unique browsers, which is a good traffic to try the new OS.

The plan now I to leave the server alone for a couple of weeks, to allow it to "settle down" and make sure we don't run into anything strange on the standard install.

NEC Technology showcase in Wellington (including NGN)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Nov-2007 11:08

I just got an invitation and I am happy to pass this along: NEC will be showcasing its technology as part of its 25th year in New Zealand.

The show includes guest speakers from Japan, Australia and NZ providing an insight into the latest global technological developments with a series of short presentations in the morning on NGN (the next generation network and its impact on the telecomms industry in NZ), the Virtual PC Centre (NEC's thin client solution), and the increasing use of biometric technology including digital fingerprinting, facial recognition and intelligent video. 

There will be a light lunch and then a showcase - they will even have the PaPeRo robot (pictured) coming from Japan to pay us a visit!

Register on-line for the showcase (22th November, in Wellington). Look for me there if you are attending!

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.

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