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On New Zealand DST changes again: Apple and Debian

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Oct-2007 08:56

My previous post about the New Zealand DST changes got thousands of reads, because it explains an issue that affects corporate and consumers in general. I congratulated Microsoft and Telecom New Zealand for being proactive.

After the post I found out in the comments that Vodafone New Zealand sent out a letter (yes, snail mail!) to RIM BlackBerry users explaining that DST was coming and things should be changed on their servers. Vodafone sent a letter one week before the DST change came into effect! This is not time enough for Sysadmins to prepare patches, apply, work things out. How poor is that?

Vodafone put up a page with some information, and at least they are clear that changing the clock on the BackBerry itself will not change the appointments - this needs a change on the BES.

Again, if you think just changing the time on the device is fine, read my previous blog post. The DST problem affects not only appointments created in the new DST but it affects appointments you create during the new DST that fall outside the standard DST.

Then we have Apple who has not released a patch at all. A discussion in the Geekzone Forums asked "Where is the Apple update?"... It's nowhere. Apple just recommended users to manually set the clock. This is not good enough because it only fixes the system clock. What about appointments and application running on the basis of the system timezone? Are we sure it works ok? The only thing you find is a lousy page with instructions on how to change the time on Mac OS X.

Now I read this on Slashdot::


"Although a tzdata release that includes New Zealand's recent DST changes (2007f) has been out for some time, Debian are refusing to push the update from testing into the current stable distribution, codenamed Etch, on the basis that 'it's not a security bug.' This means that unless New Zealand sysadmins install the package manually, pull the package from testing, or alter the timezone to 'GMT-13' manually, all systems running Debian Etch in New Zealand currently have the incorrect time, as DST went into effect this morning. As one of the last comments in the bug report says, 'even Microsoft are not this silly.' The final comment (at this writing), from madcoder, says 'The package sits in volatile for months. Please take your troll elsewhere.'"


Clearly, if I were a corporate IT admin, CTO, CIO I would just stay away from those vendors who refuse to make their systems work or help sysadmins.



Patent system is crashing: IBM wants to patent outsourcing

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Sep-2007 09:22

A story forming on Slashdot tells us that IBM is trying to patent outsourcing to other countries:


The USPTO is considering IBM's patent application for Outsourcing of Services, a 'method for identifying human-resource work content to outsource offshore of an organization' to 'countries where cheaper labor prices and/or cheaper materials are available.' Then there's Big Blue's Electronic Marketplace for Identifying, Assessing, Reserving and Engaging Knowledge-Workers for an Assignment Using Trade-Off Analysis, which provides a handy-dandy IBM calculator that drives home the point that you'll pay less for IGS India workers, whether onshore or offshore. And with its System and Method of Using Speech Recognition at Call Centers to Improve Their Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction, IBM describes how to operate in 'low cost foreign countries' with 'support people not having good English language skills, or having an accent that makes it difficult to understand them' by exploiting technology developed for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as other accent reduction techniques."


The problem is that some underpaid officer will look at this and most likely stamp "approved". I don't think they are paid to think about "obvious" or "prior art".

What else is next for companies to try and patent?



On New Zealand DST changes: congratulations Telecom, Microsoft... Sorry Apple users

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Sep-2007 08:28

Today is the start of the updated New Zealand Dailight Saving Time. I have to say congratulations to Telecom New Zealand and Microsoft. And be sorry for any enterprise Mac OS X users out there.

I read a lot of misinformed opinion about DST changes, which is something that affected New Zealand (with extra weeks of DST), Australia and soon the U.S.

To prevent having to apply patches to their PC, even some technical people thought that they could just disable the automatic clock update on their server OS and manually change the time during the extra weeks, turning the feature back on when the old DST time kicked in.

The problem is that that same people use Exchange and Outlook to manage their appointments, and even though there's no "international" appointments not many people realise how things are stored.

Appointments (and many other data) are stored with time in the GMT timezone. This way it's easy to show the correct time if and when the user moves from one timezone to another. The problem is that if we have DST rules in our PCs that do not conform with the real life rules in place then appointments will show one hour later or earlier during those extra DST weeks. Worst if we have updated machines interacting with non-updated machines.

The problem goes even further if you create appointments during those extra weeks, but falling outside DST. All those appointments will be shifted one hour when the DST ends, and havoc is upon us.

Now, this is only one example. What about international travel where people crosses many timezones? And if you create meetings in other timezones?

Microsoft New Zealand did a great job of creating patches for their Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows Server OS platforms, plus for Exchhange Server, Microsoft Outlook and Windows Mobile.

Not only Microsoft issued a patch for all those platforms, but this patch was sent with the monthly automatic update a couple of months ago, so your mom and pop won't have their PCs running on the wrong time, neither the big corporate will have problems.

Telecom New Zealand even sent out a SMS to all of their Windows Mobile users informing people to visit a website to apply the patch. Vodafone New Zealand did not go that far, but sent out a press release asking people to check with their manufacturers.

Sun sent out information and an updated Java Runtime, as well other platforms had the same.

What computer company was missed? Apple Inc did not issue a patch for this. Were they too busy with the Apple iPod Touch, or simply deemed the New Zealand market too small to need an update? I understand there's a third party patch for this, but users will have to manually find it and apply the correction - which is not ideal. It should have been an automatic update. 

I hope they do release an update for the U.S. market though.

UPDATE: Rod is not happy with his RIM Blackberry and Vodafone New Zealand either.

UPDATE: for users interested in the Microsoft patches, follow this link to the Microsoft NZ Timezone page.



Windows Home Server Code2Fame Challenge Winners

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Sep-2007 10:02

One of the cool things you can have on a Windows Home Server is the ability to have Add-ins running from the console - so you don't need to actually RD to your server.

The Windows Home Server team have just announced the winners of the Code2Fame Challenge, a competition to award those most interesting Add-ins for Windows Home Server.

The 1st Prize went to Whiist, which is an Add-in I am already using, and allows you to create websites and photo albums from your content, all without having to touch IIS or any other configuration.

The 2nd prize went to Jungle Disk, an on-line backup solution that stores your content in the cloud using Amazon S3 services. And the 3rd prize went to Community Feeds for Windows Home Server, an Add-in that pulls down RSS feeds and make them avaialble to connected Xbox 360 or media externders.

I didn't know about Jungle Disk before. It is currently in a private beta and I am trying to get a copy to review. It sounds good - I already use Carbonite to backup three laptops around the house, but I would like to have an off site backup for my Windows Home Server. Let's see how it goes.



Some Geekzone Forums updates: jobs forum, sponsorship

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Sep-2007 11:21

We have created an exciting add-on to our Geekzone Forums: the Jobs section, where IT recruitment companies are welcome to post "Wanted" announcements. IT recruiters can create their own Geekzone profile and post in the forums. There's no fee for this.

We also have just updated the software running our Geekzone Forums to allow for a "sponsorship" option:



We currently run banner advertising on our forum pages, but we understand some forums are really targeted at a select audience. So we are providing the opportunity for companies to advertise on a specific forum.

This means that even if we have a banner campaign running on the forum, the "This forum is sponsored by" space will always be filled with the sponsor's banner - currently it's filled with any banner advertising we have running.

We will see the first sponsor coming up soon in the Jobs section.

To give an indication of the audience, Geekzone is the largest Technology website in New Zealand in Total Unique Browsers (Nielsen//NetRatings Aug 2007) and the third largest Technology website in New Zealand in Local Unique Browsers (Nielsen//NetRatings Aug 2007).

If you want to sponsor one of the Geekzone Forums, please contact me directly.



Windows Vista Ultimate Extras update

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Sep-2007 11:22

The Windows Vista Ultimate team has released the latest version of DreamScene:

Windows DreamScene transforms your desktop from a static wallpaper image into a full-motion video. In conjunction with Stardock, we’re pleased to also offer a number of cool, new animated DreamScene desktops, including “Aurora”. Additionally, you can use your own videos as DreamScene desktops or visit Stardock’s Dream.WinCustomize.com website to download Stardock’s DeskScapes (an add-on to DreamScene) as well as a collection of fabulous content created by Stardock and members of the Ultimate community.


This is really cool stuff, but not what Windows Vista Ultimate is all about. Bloggers and press have been running around Microsoft because the Ultimate Extras was promised to be something extraordinaire for users of the top Windows Vista edition, but it seemed slow to deliver.

Today I got some feedback from Nick White, the guy behind the official Windows Vista Blog:


[While] we've essentially failed our Ultimate customers to date, we're working hard to exceed their expectations in the long run.


And Long, it appears the Ultimate Dev team is still working...



New Zealand Broadband needs action now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Sep-2007 10:03

Defining a Broadband Aspiration (pdf link):


The New Zealand Institute has identified national economic benefits from broadband in the range of $2.7-4.4 billion per year with further upside potential possible.

Capturing many of these economic benefits increasingly requires high speeds and so New Zealand’s policy focus should shift from encouraging penetration to increasing the speed of the network. This means investing in a fibre network.

There is a significant cost to waiting. The longer that New Zealand waits, the more economic value it will forego and so New Zealand should approach the investment in fibre with urgency.


Also another read, Securing Our Digital Trade Routes.



Halo 3 New Zealand launch

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Sep-2007 09:07

A couple of weeks ago I posted a cryptic message about the Halo 3 launch here in New Zealand. And now it's all revealed...

The "vast and mysterious alien object to land at QEII Square, Auckland." is a huge 1-tonne block of ice in Queen Elizabeth Square, containing 50 discs frozen within the ice. 
 
This gigantic ice cube is there until 10am today (run!) and you can 'play' the Halo 3 Ice Block Buster and try to free the discs as the ice melts, aided by hot water pistols. Prizes to be won include Samsung 40" LCD TVs, Xbox 360 games consoles and Halo 3 games.

Gamers Nicole Sinclair and Ryan Marsden, both 19, were the first people in the world to receive a copy of the game at the worldwide premiere launch event held in Auckland. Stores across the country also opened their doors at midnight to meet demand from gamers.
 



Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 available for beta testers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Sep-2007 08:37

Today Microsoft has made the Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 (Service Pack)  available for select private beta testers on Connect. Those "chosen ones" received an e-mail confirmation a couple of weeks ago indicating they were accepted as beta testers for this release - so if you have not received such e-mail then you will most likely not see the download options.

The Windows Vista Team blog has some additional information on this release, including the announcement of new performance and reliability packages that may be released before SP1 ships:


We also released today five reliability packages via connect.microsoft.com for testing by selected  members of the community.  These packages consist of numerous improvements to Windows Vista based on user feedback, and while they will also ultimately be part of SP1, we’re working to make them available before the final version of SP1 is released so that your Windows Vista experience is the best


A more detailed account is from the Windows Experience Blog and you will get information on some changes related to speed and search:


The most common way the user will get SP1 will be through Windows Update. That is how I installed SP1 on the HP tx1000. Before getting to the SP1, a series of 3 prerequisites had to be installed first (It was 3 for me since I'm running Windows Vista Ultimate, but users who aren't running Ultimate or Enterprise will only have 2 to install since BitLocker is not included in the other Windows Vista SKUs).  I talked to Product Manager David Zipkin who explained what these prerequisites are for. The first prerequisite includes updates to the servicing stack. The second prerequisite is an update for BitLocker-capable PCs (Windows Vista Enterprise and Windows Vista Ultimate) to ensure proper servicing of Bitlocker. And the third and final prerequisite includes some updates to Windows, necessary to install and uninstall the service pack.


I am now downloading Windows Vista SP1 from connect - both x86 and x64 version, a total of 6.8 GB, which should take another couple of hours.



HTC Titan first impressions and Palm Treo 700wx giveaway

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Sep-2007 11:21

I got a courier parcel this morning bringing a brand new Telecom New Zealand HTC Titan for review and play.

Though the review is coming up later, I have to say the HTC Titan is a refresh from the square screen on the Plam Treo 700wx, and the much larger keyboard is not something to complain about. Oh, and built-in Wi-Fi!

A full review will be coming up next on Geekzone. For the time being, why don't you go and enter the draw for your chance to win the Palm Treo 700wx I have here?





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.

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 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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