My window to the world


Travelbug has got competition: Expedia enters the New Zealand travel market

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Oct-2007 12:39

The New Zealand on-line travel market is just getting hotter now: Expedia has opened its local website...

On-line travel is the largest e-commerce segment in New Zealand, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

This will be big competition for Travelbug, Air New Zealand and QANTAS.



New hot: Mobile Media company (mobile operator for the rest of us)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Oct-2007 08:19

Rant of the day: companies that create new names for old stuff.

It happens a lot in Nokia's press releases. For instance the company calls its Nokia N95 a "multimedia computer", and call I it a "smartphone".

Mobile operator 3 cals itself a "mobile media company", I call it a... "mobile operator" (ok, North Americans can call it a "carrier").

This is an interesting shift. Until a few years ago telcos would sometimes have an ISP (Internet Service Provider) such as Telecom New Zealand's Xtra, but they would distance themselves from that business. They wouldn't want to mix the core voice network with their data network - if not for fear of the unknown business model, at least for FUD security reasons.

These days is the other way around. Every ISP and cowboy want to be the telco, jumping in the VoIP (Voice over IP) wagon. The problem with this is that I can't see some ISPs putting the value of voice network integrity as highly as a traditional telco model would. And therefore the quality of service can be impacted.

There are exception of course In my personal experience and after talking to some of their people, WorldxChange VFX seems to run their voice business as a traditional telco model - the company operate their voice network in a way to maintain the integrity of the service, by keeping SIP configuration locked down, only allowing certified devices to connect to their network, etc.

Back to the mobile segment, mobile operators are acting as the new ISPs. They started it a few years ago with data packet services (GPRS) offering access to their walled garden and have all the good reasons now with 3G data access speeds.

Mobile operators tend to not provide all the services an ISP would. For example e-mail addresses. But is this bad in these days of hosted e-mail accounts? No, probably not at all. But you will have a hard time trying to find a NNTP server provided by a mobile operator - even probably to find anyone within a mobile operator that knows what NNTP is - damn, even traditional ISPs are ditching NNTP servers these day, a shame.

I wonder if sometime in the future governments will try to force mobile operators to "unbundle the wireless loop" and allow third party ISPs to provide data services over the mobile operators' networks.

Probably not, if mobile operators move to a complete VoIP platform and proclaim themselves "media company" or "ISP".

What started as a rant about naming, ended up covering three of four subjects... Talk about train of thought...



Where to this month? Next round of conferences...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Oct-2007 17:20

October and November are going to be busy months for me. It will start late in this month when I am planning to fly to Auckland and pay a visit to the hosting provider where Geekzone is co-located, for some on-site work. The plan is to upgrade the server from Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition to Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition, upgrade the Microsoft SQL Server 2000 to Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and then finally (depending on some last tests) upgrade the server to Windows Server 2008 RC0 as part of an early adopter programme.

I am planning to time my trip to Auckland so that I can then attend Telecom New Zealand's 1st November official announcement of its new mobile handset business, the Okta Mobile brand I posted about before on Geekzone.

Following this, on 7 - 8 November 2007, I will be speaking at the TUANZ Business Internet and Awards 2007 in Wellington. You can catch me in two sessions: one about user-generated content and social media, and then a panel discussion on corporate blogging.

At the end of November I will be heading to Amsterdam to attend the Mobius conference. It will be my first time attending the Mobius - thanks for the invitation and for the nomination (you know who you are):


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.


Some of the sessions are under NDA, but not all, and if it goes like previous meetings you will see most of the content being blogged about.

Microsoft Corp invited me to Mobius, and offered me the option to pay for my trip, which I accepted.



Developer giveaway: Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Oct-2007 14:31

I am just going through my boxes of software here and found a never used developer kit containing Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition, Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standar Edition (1 client license), and Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006.

Since I already have a MSDN subscription, I thought I would share this with some developer or student that would need the software more than I do.

This is a great kit for a developer. With Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Standard you will have support for Visual Basic, C#, C++, and J# languages, plus the ability to develop and deploy client-server based Windows, Web, and Windows Mobile (Smartphone and Pocket PC) applications.

If you are interested, please leave a comment here and I will select one entry in a few days. When the entry is selected I will close comments to this post.

UPDATE: As this is a single box with all the software, the giveaway is for the entire kit, not separated items.



Travelbug needs to provide more interaction

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Oct-2007 09:48

This weekend I used Travelbug to find some accomodation for a last minute weekend away plan. And my first real experience was ok - although Travelbug didnt' make much revenue from my visit to their site.

The whole thing made me think about how they offer information and why Travelbug needs to provide more interaction - or I won't be stopping there to buy travel.

On Saturday morning we decided to leave the city - go for an unplanned weekend in the Wairarapa wine region. It was great, and I actually managed to stay away from my laptop the whole time.

Since we decided to get out of the city at 10am, there was not much time to find accomodation. Not enough time to send e-mails, wait, wait, wait for a reply. Actually there's no way to contact a propery owner through Travelbug - no contact information, nothing.

I visited Travelbug and searched for accomodation in the Wairarapa. We found two or three interesting places, and seeing this is not a busy weekend they all had vacancies.

But we wanted to know if the place would be toddler-friendy. Is it fully fenced? Gate on the driveway? Space for a portable cot? All those questions that need answer now, not in two hours time or Monday morning.

So I did the next logical thing: used Google to find these places' websites, and called the owners on their mobile phones.

As a result we booked a place over the phone, and went away.

Travelbug? They missed the commision because their communications is not good enough. They should really team up with a VoIP provider and offer the properties listed there an option to have a "click-to-call" feature on the site. Something that would allow propety owners to set a schedule with times they can receive calls and where the calls would terminate.

For the users, a small application on the browser would connect them to the property owners and allow them to ask questions. Travelbug could even charge a nominal fee from the calling party directly from their account.

I was the lead archictect at Unisys for a project with similar functionality, but for help desk services. Our "click-to-call" was developed back in 2002. As I discussed before, a lot of things companies are doing now have been worked on before...

No, Travelbug won't lose business with this. They might even have a better chance than letting people use Google to find contact details and take away their revenue.



Trade Me closing accounts?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Oct-2007 09:35

New Zealand site Trade Me is the leader in the local on-line auction segment. The domain alone commands about 60% of the total Internet trafic in this country and there's no competition in sight.

They can do this because they keep the system working, by weeding out scammers and people that don't play by the rules.

But sometimes the rules seem a bit draconian. For instance it seems they tend to act first, notify later - following the guilty until proven innocent doctrine instead of the other way around.

I found an example of Trade Me closing accounts during the weekend in our Geekzone forums. Brad Stewart, one of our moderators (whom I have met a few times before and the team vouche for him) had his account terminated, apparently because he was running more than one account, which is not allowed.

Brad denies running multiple acconts.

He points out that he had some auctions running, a few past the reserve already, which are now ruined.

He actually had just recharged his account, and one poster asked what happened to Brad's money? Would have wound up on someone else's (unknown) account after this "consolidation"?

So what's the rule here? Fire first, ask questions later? Disrupt the users?

I am not in a position to say which side is correct, but it would be a bit easier to understand if a more user friendly process was followed. Something like asking questions first?



Google Gmail is not the same as Windows Live Skydrive.

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Oct-2007 08:38

When you read a blog, make sure you bring your brains. Not everything you read on the Internet is true, not everything about Microsoft is bad, not everything about [other brands] is good.

Techcrunch is really good at exposing new ventures and services, but the post "Windows Live Skydrive doubles storage to 1 GB, still can't keep up with GMail" is absurd:


Microsoft doubled the online storage consumers can get for free in Windows Live SkyDrive. It’s hard to get excited about that when Gmail is already giving me 2.9 GB of storage, with more on the way—4GB by the end of the month, and 6GB by early January, according to one estimate.


Then the "echo chamber" start posting the same things around...

What's wrong with that? Google Gmail is an e-mail service, Live Skydrive is a storage service. They are different things. You can copy files to Skydrive, make them public or private. It's not the same with GMail.

Techcrunch should compare Gmail with Live Mail, which by the way already offer 5GB for your e-mails...

Sheesh...



New i-mate brand: deja vu?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Oct-2007 08:30

Windows Mobile distributor i-mate has launched a new branding and website. There are also a couple of new mobile devices listed including the JAMA 201 (a Windows Mobile Standard, a.k.a. Smartphone, with VGA screen) and the JAMA 101 (Windows Mobile 6 Professional a.k.a. Pocket PC Phone Edition).

But is just me, or their new logo is strikingly similar to SonyEricsson's own logo? Check for yourself in the picture (SonyEricsson on the left, i-mate on the right side).




To upgrade to Windows, please remove Windows

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Oct-2007 22:30

I think this image does not require many words... I am trying an upgrade from Windows Server 2003 R2 to Windows Server 2008... This is classic:



Upgrade has been disabled

You must rename or remove c:\Windows before upgrade can continue.


It's now 10:30pm, I need to sleep. I can't stand restoring the virtual machine and doing it all over again tonight...

UPDATE: It's morning now and I found the problem: the image used to create this machine (not me!) used \WINNT as the home folder. There was a single file in \WINDOWS. Once I moved the file to the appropriate location all started working again. The migration is going ahead.

I am leaving this post here for documentation - if anyone finds the same problem...



Yahoo7 shakeup?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Oct-2007 21:03

Today I found an interesting article on Tech Crunch, talking about some big moves within Yahoo7, the Australian parternship between Yahoo and the 7 Network.

Yahoo7 is also the Telecom New Zealan partner on its Yahoo!Xtra portal:


According to a report at Australian IT, Yahoo7’s traffic has declined from 5.5 million in January to 4.9 million in August, and advertising has remained flat despite massive growth in the sector.

Yahoo appointee and previous Chief Sales Officer Markus Barnikel has been moved to a “less hands on role” and Yahoo Search Marketing’s Craig Wax will be returning to the United States. Willie Pang, who previously workedon Yahoo’s Panama project will head Yahoo Search Marketing Australia & New Zealand.

Australia is a surprisingly strong market for Microsoft, with its local joint venture NineMSN holding a 26% share of main ad buying marketplace (corporate buys), followed closely by News Corp and local media group Fairfax Digital, who operate well known sites including SMH.com.au and a variety of ecommerce ventures.



I guess one might never know the full story on why Telecom New Zealand decided to terminate the partnership between its Xtra ISP and Microsoft's MSN content provider here in New Zealand, instead running into the open arms of Yahoo7.



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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