My window to the world

Mobile Number Portability...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Aug-2007 11:22

I agree with Taniwha... Why do the New Zealand mobile operators offer their new plans with contract (12 and 24 month contracts) only?

To lock you in? How bad of them. They not only lock you in, but lock you out.

I am really, really trying to port my Vodafone New Zealand number over to Telecom New Zealand. I have been a Vodafone New Zealand customer for almost ten years now, and I don't have a contract, so I am free to move to another operator.

But there's no way to move to another operator on their new plans without signing up for at least a 12 month contract. And I am on account, which means a good amount of money every month for those operators.

It means Telecom New Zealand is not getting my business, as much as I want to leave the Vodafone New Zealand ranks.

It is the same if you are on Telecom New Zealand and want to move to Vodafone New Zealand, as Taniwha found out.

How dumb of them.

Server backup, migrating to virtual machine and disaster recovery with Acronis

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Aug-2007 17:22

This is another post I would link to the "tools for Windows administrators" series... I spent the last few days installing and configuring my environemnt to use Acronis software for disc image backup.

The idea was to have an automatic backup configuration that would allow me to restore the Geekzone server to any other host in a matter of hours, with minimum loss, if anything bad happened.

But in the process I found that the software also provides a great way to migrate physical machines to virtual machines!

To start with I installed the Acronis Backup Server and the Acronis Management Console on my home server (in Wellington) running Windows Vista. Plugged to this machine I have an 1 TB Maxtor HDD for backup of all PCs around here - and the Geekzone server.

On the Geekzone server (in Auckland) I installed Acronis True Image Windows Agent and Acronis True Image Enterprise Server engine. This allows me to use the Management Console (pictured below) from here to manage remote backups if needed.

The Backup Server allows me create a backup area with parameters such as number of backups to store, when to consolidate full backups and incremental backups and more.
The full backup (which only happens every couple of weeks) takes about three hours to complete, over a 10 Mbps cable connection (which I hope to increase to 25 Mbps when TelstraClear decide to come out with their already announced new product). Daily incremental backups take about 45 minutes 15 minutes.

To test the restoration I created a virtual machine with Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 (which I already have installed on my home server to run test and development machines) and booted it from a special restore CD containing the Acronis Universal Restore.

After booting it automatically connected through my LAN to the Backup Server, and after authentication I was able to choose from various backup sets on that space. I started the restore process, which took about two hours. Once completed I rebooted the virtual machine, logged in and installed Virtual Additions.

The server came up ok, immediately recognised the network connection and I had not changed anything - it means I can restore my production server to other hardware or even to a virtual environment with minimum downtime.

If you want to just migrate a physical machine to a virtual machine you could just use a Microsoft tool for that - but they require chages in configuration before and after, while I found out that using this method I needed nothing but the Acronis software to have this running.

Wellington Blogger Group meetup

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Aug-2007 15:46

Yesterday I went to The Southern Cross (Abel Smith Street, Wellington) to meet other Wellington-based bloggers.

The meeting was the initiative of Stuart Maxwell, through a Facebook group called... Wellington Bloggers (which is open to join, no invitation needed).

Present there were Stuart Maxwell, Martha Craig, Brenda Leeuwenberg, Tom Ackroyd, David Farrar, Will de Cleene, Mike Gregg, Jo (sorry I don't have a link!) and Sandy Mamoli (if I forgot anyone, please post in the comments!).

We had eight people confirmed, seventeen "maybe", eighteen "sorry" and eight people who couldn't be bothered replying to the invitation.

It was a good night, knowing a bit more of people we get to read (almost) daily.

Just for some testing I also posted the event on a new New Zealand-based event website called Eventfinder.

Unlimited Potential Geeks, Gadgets and Games event

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Jul-2007 11:17

The Unlimited Potential folks are again running their UP Geeks, Gadgets and Games event. This is where the region’s information and communications technology (ICT) providers meet like-minded individuals and showcase industry developments.

This year high profile industry players will also be sharing their tricks of the trade as headline speakers. Glynn Foster from Sun MicroSystems will talk about Project Indiana - a binary distribution of OpenSolaris, and Mario Wynands will talk about the latest accomplishments for New Zealand’s leading game development studio Sidhe Interactive.

Exhibitors this year are expected to be as exciting and progressive as ever. Returning exhibitor Vision Limited will be displaying their ergonomically designed gaming chair which is based on NASA space technology.

The event will be held at the Wellington Convention Centre on Wednesday 8 August from 4:30pm and is being run by ICT industry networking group Unlimited Potential.

Last year's was a good event, and I will show up there again - but not for long, since I have another meeting from 6pm across town.

Geeks, Gadgets and Games is free and open to the public. 

Windows Mobile 6 for Treo 750: control your voice mail

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Jul-2007 11:58

This is really neat. A new feature in the AT&T version of the Palm Treo 750 ROM allows you to manage your voice mail playback with the directional pad on your Treo.

It works really well with the Vodafone New Zealand voice mail system.

I hope Vodafone New Zealand doesn't remove this feature (or includes it) when they come around to actually releasing the Windows Mobile 6 ROM upgrade for the Treo 750v here in New Zealand (which seems to be taking forever).

Joost RSS feeds?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Jul-2007 09:24

Look at the number of channels on Joost... It's just hard to go through all channels and find content you are interested on.

Enters OnTheToob. The site provides a current list of providers and programs, plus Joost RSS feeds with new content and channels.

Worth adding to your RSS feed reader.

Appaling lack of justice, balances and checks...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Jul-2007 18:37

This news made my day go down. Reading what the FBI did is just (U.S. ordered to pay $100m)... Well, the whole thing is appaling:

A federal judge Thursday ordered the government to pay more than $101 million in the case of four men who spent decades in prison for a 1965 murder they didn't commit after the FBI withheld evidence of their innocence.

The FBI encouraged perjury, helped frame the four men and withheld for more than three decades information that could have cleared them, U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner said in issuing her ruling Thursday.

She called the government's argument that the FBI had no duty to get involved in the state case "absurd."

Peter Limone, Joseph Salvati and the families of the two other men who died in prison had sued the federal government for malicious prosecution.

They argued that Boston FBI agents knew mob hitman Joseph "the Animal" Barboza lied when he named the men as killers in the 1965 death of Edward Deegan. They said Barboza was protecting a fellow FBI informant, Vincent "Jimmy" Flemmi, who was involved.

Salvati had been sentenced to life in prison as an accessory to murder and served more than 29 years before his sentence was commuted in 1997.

A crime they did not commit, but they were framed, and convicted, sentenced to die in the electric chair (changed to life in prison later). And framed by the very organisation who should "protect" citizens?


UPDATE: I would say the title in this post is wrong. Justice was made, albeit thirty years later.

Too many updates

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Jul-2007 10:17

I have just installed a Windows XP Service Pack 2 virtual machine for a trivial task. No need for Windows Vista for this task, I need something that can run on 128MB RAM, fast with the less disk space as possible. But can't be a Linux box. So Windows XP Service Pack 2 fits the bill.

To make it smaller and leaner I removed any non-essential tools - games, cursors, Windows Media Player. And Outlook Express.

Then I started applying the required updates - all 78 "important updates", and then we still have another 10 "optional updates", and I am sure there will be more updates to the updates after a reboot.

But why install a security update for Outlook Express, a tool I have explicitly removed from this install?

What a waste of time, bandwidth and space...

Laptops can be jealous, according to Nokia

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jul-2007 11:56

If you go around with a Nokia N95, beware of rabid laptops. Jealous computers are not unheard of, according to Nokia (and some of the videos are quite funny actually):

Keeping your PCs in sync is not easy

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Jul-2007 11:01

Today I had yet another bad experience while trying to keep multiple PCs in sync...

I have a laptop and a UMPC here, plus a server. My idea is to have the UMCP always up-to-date (it's always on) with the latest changes I do on my laptop, so I could just grab it and go...

And before the UMPC arrived here the idea was to have an automated backup to the server.

So it was really a two way sync until now: the laptop is the master, and the server only receives updates (since I don't use it for work). Files are stored on a 1TB external drive on the server, which is automatically synchronised to a second drive on the same machine.

This has worked ok so far, but I didn't manage to get it to be "automatic", always requiring a manual kick start. With the UMPC I wanted to establish a two-way sync with the laptop, because I could work on the (more) mobile device. But it failed miserably so far.

The bad experience? BeInSync deleted files. Lots of them. Files that were present in both the laptop and the UMPC, but the software decided to delete them. I am not happy of course.

Here's what I tried and what failed:

Memeo AutoSync: it works great if you are synchronising drives and folders in the same machine and it does it automatically (that's what I am using on the server to sync the 1TB drive to the other external drive).

However I've noticed some deletes not happening on the destination andI wouldn't recommend using it on a mapped drive: every time I tried it will work for a while, but it will come with "Drive not available", even if I can happily open Windows Explorer and browse the drive. Most of the times the "Restart Service" option doesn't restart the scanning, and when it does it simply uses so much resources rescaning everything that I just gave up on this software.

Foldershare: it works ok, but limits a set to 10,000 files. I have way more than this in My Documents. It will do the synchronisation automatically, but the file limit is a kller.

Microsoft Office Groove 2007: great collaboration tool. Shame the Folder Synchronisation doesn't work on 64 bit operating systems. Did the folks at Microsoft realise there are lots of people running Windows Vista 64 bit now?

BeInSync: this was a great promise that failed to deliver, It provides synchronisation between folders, folder sharing to friends, web access. And it does it automatically.

It would be great if it wasn't for a few things: it seems to "forget" to do things and then you have a big backlog. It is really slow between PCs even on the same LAN. It's sometimes non-responsive. And it deleted a lot of my files which were not deleted in any of the sides of the sync, which is why I am now restoring a backup. It messed up so much that I can't just copy a few files back, but have to restore the entire thing.

Laplink PCSync: it's a good promise, tried it once and it worked ok. Best thing is the client-server configuration, so you can synchronise things over a private network, even while away from home or office. However it must be run on a logged session, which means leaving your computer logged in all the time - a pain.

GoodSync: another good one, but alas it will only work in manual mode and requires quite a lot of interaction.

The next two are not synchronisation solutions, but help:

HandyBackup: This is a backup software that also has a synchronisation option, which works really well, but again it's manual or on schedule, not "hot synchronisation".

It's really a good software and I use it on the Geekzone server to backup files every night, after the database backup runs.

Carbonite: this is an on-line backup tool. It works well and it's a "hot backup", it claims unlimited (fair use) storage on the cloud, but it won't backup all your files. First it won't backup files larger than 2GB (I have a couple of virtual machines I want copied off site but can't) and won't backup any .exe files (what about all the installers for the programs I buy on-line? I need a copy of those!)

But Carbonite won't synchronise devices - it's only a backup solution. But it's Carbonite who was here to allow me to restore files I've changed in the last two days since my last full backup to the server.

Windows Home Server: great software, it can automatically backup (not synchronise) your PC to the server, keeping everything tidy and central. But Microsoft failed to deliver a 64 bit client and it may not have one until v2 comes out sometime in the future.

So, really, it's hard to find a decent solution for this problem...

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.

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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.

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