My window to the world

UP Gadgets, Games and Geeks: Lust for Apple Mac

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Aug-2007 09:34

Last night I attended the Unlimited Potential Gadgets, Games and Geeks event. Quite interesting, although disappointing to see less exhibitors than last year's event.

Great chat - met with some of the Wellington bloggers (Sandy, Brenda, Stuart), tech friends (Sam Ng, John Clegg) and some of the Geekzone users based here in Wellington (inanerscole86, sbiddle).

The talks were interesting, with the keynote Brian Sweeney talking about the NZ Edge. Speakers ranged from gaming development here in Wellington through OpenSolaris development (yes, there's someone in the project here in Wellington as well).

Now, if Rennaisance Apple division's Lee Hebert would send me a MacBook similar to the one he used for his demo, I would be inclined to try it for a while - and even get one myself if it's really that fast even after loading all the programs we need. Seeing how fast he started Windows XP Pro on Parallels made me say to Geekzoners around (and my wife after the event) that I would switch.

Seriously fast. Faster than my top of the range 64 bit Acer Ferrari.

The Vodafone free broadband plan...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Aug-2007 21:19

It appears this coming Sunday Vodafone New Zealand and its ISP IHUG will announce a new "broadband" plan.

The way I heard the story (and so far it's a rumour) it's an entry level offer, where customers sign for a plan paying a NZ$40 monthly phone line rental, and if you use NZ$20 or more in toll calls then you will have 1 GB (gigabyte) "free" for that month.

Now, I have to question if there will be enough "broadband" for everyone, or we would see another "Xtra unleashed" fiasco.

If I recall correctly (damn, I've sent this month's Unlimited magazine to the "archives" already) Russell Stanners, Vodafone New Zealand CEO, commented on an interview that he agrees IHUG's previous owners didn't invest much in infrastructure. Please correct me if you have the magazine handy to verify this.

Would this be the reason why IHUG's sending out e-mails to customers on its "unlimited" plan informing that "unlimited" now is actually limited in terms of speed?

This is, according to some users in our forums, the e-mail:

We hope you're loving your broadband with ihug!

We've had lots of feedback about making our broadband 3 fair use policy easier to understand...

And that's just what we've done, so we wanted to give you a quick update (as per our terms and conditions)!

Gone are the days of rolling averages and slower speeds if you ever use more than 500 MB in a day - our new broadband 3 policy is much simpler.

How does the new fair use policy work?

From September 3rd, 2007 you'll be able to do more online each day without being slowed down!

That's because we've increased the fair use policy to 2GB a day (in other words, 2 full length movies or around 400 songs). If you do happen to download more than 2GB on a day, you'll simply surf at 64kbps for a day - no more confusing calculations to make!

Our new fair use policy also makes sure a few 'enthusiastic' people don't spoil things for everyone else by using unreasonable amounts of data - so if someone uses more than 20GB a month, their speed will be reduced to 64kbps for the rest of that month. (If you happen to be one of the few that use more than this each month, broadband 3 probably isn't the best plan for you - click here to check out our other plans with up to 60GB of data!)

Click here to find out more about the new fair use policy.

We hope this makes your broadband 3 plan easier to manage so you can enjoy your time online without any hassles!

So if you download 2GB in a single day, then your speed is limited to 64 Kbps the next day and if you use 20 GB in a month you can still enjoy yor unlimited allowance, but throttled to a 64 Kbps connection for the rest of that month.

Perhaps these limitations will allow for a bit more bandwidth for the 1GB/month users?

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 tip: use virtual SCSI drives

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Aug-2007 20:57

When I created my Windows Server 2003 virtual machine a few years ago I didn't know that using the virtual SCSI interface instead of the virtual IDE interface would provide me with about 20% increased performance.

Now I know - and I am using Acronis True Image to clone the current IDE-based virtual HD to a SCSI-based virtual HD.

In the process I am also adding a few gigabytes to this virtual drive. The SCSI virtual interface allows for larger drives too.

The only thing that surprised me was the requirement to reactivate the Windows Server just because of the virtual SCSI interface addition. For me a minor change, but for Windows Server 2003 "significant", even though it was adding the interface, not replacing it.

Not moving to Telecom New Zealand after all

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Aug-2007 15:07

As much as I wanted to port my Vodafone number to Telecom New Zealand, I am not doing it... The only open-term option is a very expensive plan at almost $80/month. Anything else requires customers to sign up on a 12 month contract.

I don't have a contract with Vodafone, I am free to move to another operator. But the other operator is locking out at least one new customer by requiring a long term contract.

Contracts are bad. The operator lock you in, and you have no choice if their services are bad, or the coverage is not ideal, or if their plans are getting more expensive than the competition.

It's all great for the operator, bad for the consumer.

As I posted before, contracts also no only lock people in. They lock people trying to port mobile numbers out.

How dumb. Of both operators.

As for why I wanted to move out of Vodafone? I can't trust them. Too many stories behind stories. Personal trust is gone.

And the Vodafone service where it's most important to me - at home, is gone downhill. It used to be great, with five out five bars, full HSDPA speed. Since then the service has gone so bad it's hard to keep a voice call. Data is almost impossible around here.

So I am between bad services and lack of trust with one operator and dumb contract requirements with another.

We need a third decent operator.

I would like to say thanks to the folks at Telecom New Zealand who tried on my behalf, but couldn't go around stupid rules...

Events I am attending: come meet me and hear me speak about mobile devices

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Aug-2007 11:45

It looks like the travel season has started again... I have already registered for the International CES 2008 (January, Las Vegas), but for a more local thing I have got the following coming up soon (in chronological order):

Microsoft Tech Ed New Zealand 2007: the largest technology event in New Zealand. This is my first time attending the Tech Ed, and I will be blogging live throughout the event in our Unofficial Tech Ed Blog. Subscribe to the RSS feed to get up to date information about this huge event - more than 120 sessions, more than 2,000 people! 12 - 15 August 2007, Auckland (New Zealand).

Symantec Vision 2007: this is a security and infrastructure one day conference with all the latest updates from Symantec for enterprise and business users. This year the Symantec Vision Agenda will have sessions in three streams: Business, Solutions, and Technical. 12 September 2007, Sydney (Australia).

Microsoft New Zealand Partner Conference: come and watch me talk about Windows Mobile 6.0, integration with Microsoft Office applications, and why you should build mobile capabilities in your business. 19 - 20 September 2007, Auckland (New Zealand).

GPU Gems 3 is out!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Aug-2007 19:53

Hubert Nguyen, a friend of mine who works at NVIDIA, told me his latest book GPU Gems 3 has just been released:

This third volume of the best-selling GPU Gems series provides a snapshot of today’s latest Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) programming techniques. The programmability of modern GPUs allows developers to not only distinguish themselves from one another but also to use this awesome processing power for non-graphics applications, such as physics simulation, financial analysis, and even virus detection—particularly with the CUDA architecture. Graphics remains the leading application for GPUs, and readers will find that the latest algorithms create ultra-realistic characters, better lighting, and post-rendering compositing effects.

Major topics include

  • Geometry
  • Light and Shadows
  • Rendering
  • Image Effects
  • Physics Simulation
  • GPU Computing

About the author: Hubert Nguyen, Manager of Developer Education at NVIDIA, is a graphics engineer who worked in the NVIDIA Demo Team before moving to his current position. His work is featured on the covers of GPU Gems (Addison-Wesley, 2004) and GPU Gems 2 (Addison-Wesley, 2006).


Again New Zealand DST: have you updated and tested your systems?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Aug-2007 19:48

This is another reminder for you IT admins out there to udpate and test your systems before the updated New Zealand DST comes into force.

I have discussed about this before and it appears now some patches are available for Microsoft Windows systems.

The links to a Microsot Australia Technet page, which seems to be a more updated version of the Microsoft New Zealand Timezone page.

The [New Zealand] Minister of Internal Affairs, Rick Barker, announced in April that the period of daylight saving was being extended to 27 weeks.  From this year, daylight saving will start on the last Sunday in September and end on the first Sunday in April the following year.  Accordingly, the next period of daylight saving will start on Sunday 30 September 2007 (when 2:00am becomes 3:00am) and end on Sunday 6 April 2008 (when 3:00am becomes 2:00am). 

The only change is to the length of the period of daylight saving (daylight time).  Daylight time is still one hour in advance of New Zealand standard time, and in the Chatham Islands, daylight time is still one hour and 45 minutes in advance of New Zealand standard time. 

If you have doubts or need help, contact your Microsoft representative.

For other systems, check the comments in my previous posts here and here.

Pill pusher spammer gets 30 years in federal prison

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Aug-2007 14:46

Just minutes after I wrote about a stupid idiot New Zealand guy who thinks spamming forums is ok and he's "disappointed" we deleted his posts, I read Spyware Sucks reporting of a U.S. spammer who got sentenced to 30 years in a PMITA federal prison:

Notorious spammer Christopher "Rizler" Smith was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a federal judge on Wednesday.

US District Judge Michael Davis called Smith a "drug kingpin" before throwing the book at him. Smith was convicted on charges of conspiracy, illegal distribution of drugs, money laundering and operating a continuing criminal enterprise."

"Under the spam companies Burnsville Internet and Xpress Pharmacy Direct, Smith allegedly sent more than one billion emails through America Online. The FBI claims he made approximately $18m

The original story is on The Register.

As someone noted on the comment in my previous post, spammers keep doing it because people buy from them.

And as noted by Spyware Sucks's Sandi, this is $18 million in a year, from a single spammer! How many people read spam and actually buy the crap this people sell? No surprise then that a lot of people also get sucked into other scams.

People, don't buy from spammers. What they sell won't enlarge anything, make you stronger, and you are not approved for a cheap home loan either. And no one left money in your name, and no dead African President left money for hist PA to distribute to you. Get a life people!

Forum spammers: begone

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Aug-2007 13:55

Last week someone registered on Geekzone just to post a reply in our Geekzone forums, shamelessly plugging his own on-line store selling some under quality goodies.

Of course the post was deleted and the user blocked.

Today I've got an e-mail from said user asking why his IP was blocked. I replied that spamming is not allowed and it won't be unlocked.

He then replied with this "sorry, I didn't know answering someone's question was spam. I am disappointed".

It is spam when you reply with loads of links to your own business. If you want advertising, we are happy to offer you an option, charging for the space used.

He was disappointed?

I am disappointed. Actually I shouldn't be, because how many people think the Internet is a "free for all" land?

A lot of people think that everything on the Internet should be free - free content, free links to their businesses.

How wrong they are.

They seem to forget there are costs involved in running a web site, producing content, keeping an infrastructure.

What a bunch of clowns.

Fake Steve Jobs busted: end of the fun blogging times?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Aug-2007 10:37

This is really sad. One of the most read, influential bloggers in the Silicon Valley, Fake Steve Jobs was exposed by a New York Times reporter, not a fellow blogger:

Well it had to happen. Honestly I can't believe it's taken this long. But as you may have heard, I've been busted by a newspaper reporter. My cover has been blown. Guy named Brad Stone, who works for the New York Times. Have you heard of him? Well, tip of the hat to you, Brad Stone. You did the sleuthing. You put the pieces of the puzzle together. You went through my trash, hacked into my computer, and put listening devices in my home. Now you've ruined the mystery of Fake Steve, robbing thousands of people around the world of their sense of childlike wonder. Hope you feel good about yourself, you mangina. 

But FSJ, I mean Forbes's Senior Editor Daniel Lyons, says he will be back, now with the Forbes behind it:

Apple faithful, here in our darkest hour I know what you're thinking: What's next for FSJ? Well, I'm taking a few days off to sit in a lake and do some yoga and meditation and non-thinking. Then I'm coming back next week, badder than ever, with a new sponsor -- my homeboys at Turns out they've been reading FSJ and liking it too. Who knew?

Daniel Lyons, according to the New Yor Times, is preparing to publish a book about... Steve Jobs:

Mr. Lyons writes and edits technology articles for Forbes and is the author of two works of fiction, most recently a 1998 novel, “Dog Days.” In October, Da Capo Press will publish his satirical novel written in the voice of the Fake Steve character, “Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs, a Parody."

Unlike the off-the-cuff ramblings on his blog, “Options” is a well-plotted satire that imagines Apple’s chief executive grappling with his real-life stock option backdating troubles and getting help, and bad advice, from friends like Larry Ellison, Bono and Al Gore.

Who knew indeed?

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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