My window to the world


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...






Intel: IT Gets Easier campaign videos

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jul-2007 16:39

These are two videos directed by Christopher Guest for Intel's campaign IT Gets Easier:



I am writing an Unofficial Tech Ed Blog

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Jul-2007 17:19

Just a heads up that I will be attending the Microsoft Tech Ed New Zealand 2007 in Auckland, and I am writing the Unofficial Tech Ed Blog.

I will be keeping the blog up-to-date, posting with the latest information on this event (the largest tech event in New Zealand), and having some guest bloggers posting their impressions as well.

I have setup a special SMS auto-reply using the 842.co.nz service, that will provide you with the latest information on this event, updated twice a week until the event, when I will try and update throughout the day.

If you are attending the event and want to write as a guest blogger (before and during the event), or if your company is showing or sponsoring sessions, or if you are presenting a session, please let me know, and I will try to get as much information as possible to post in that blog.

If you are a Microsoft MVP attending the sessions, please let me know.



More on iYomu, the social network for grown ups

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Jul-2007 16:57

This week I had a meeting with Frances Valintine and David Wolf-Rooney, directors of iYomu, a social network website that is targeting adults, and which I blogged about before.

During this meeting I had a chance to explore more about the service and ask questions raised n my previous blog post.

To start with the site is still in beta (the password to access the registration page is iyomubeta), but both David and Frances tell me the feedback has been very good so far.

The whole idea is to create an easy to use web site with social networking features accessible to "grown ups", who are in the 30 - 50 age segment. Frances, who is also responsible for the user experience and interface, tells me that most of the people in this age bracket are not interested in some of the "gimmicks" found in more teen-oriented sites such as myspace and bebo (this the largest social network in New Zealand).

I questioned the use of a Flash-based interface and France replied that it's a "standard" in most web browsers, and it could be used to make the whole experience easier for the people that want a piece of social networking action but are not worried about browser compatibility, AJAX support, and other things.

The site name iYomu stands for "I, you, me, us" and you say it as it's written ("I Yo mu").

David is the founder and doesn't have a technology background - hence the idea of creating something easy for people like himself to use. The service is fully backed by some investment rounds from local and international investors.

Their business model does not include advertising, rather relying on "upselling" features. For example people will be able to upload up to 1GB of files for secure storage and sharing with friends and family. If more than 1GB is needed then iYomu will be happy to sell you more space. They see this as an important feature for professional users who could have documents secured stored on iYomu, for later use during travel or meetings.

The "iDNA" allows users to create a profile based on answers to a questionaire covering different aspects of personality. This "iDNA" can later be used to find potentialy compatible friends in the network.

You can create and join groups, but those groups don't have discussion forums or postings. I asked about this and Frances reply was that "the feedback we received is that most people are interested in finding others in the same interest group, but not necessarily have a group-wise discussions, rather having one-on-one discussions".

I also asked if they have plans to make this an open platform, such as Facebook, which now allows third party developers to create plug-in applications. They think this is something that can happen, but not from the start.

iYomu will be launched in Auckland 13 August 2007 with a "large promotion" that Frances and David promise will draw a big deal of attention to the service. I wasn't told what is happening, but I will be in Auckland on the date (for the Microsoft Tech Ed), so I might find out more then.

It is indeed an interesting concept, although I am still not convince of the benefits of the Flash-based interface, but they certainly have invested a big deal of time in their research and development, so let's see how it goes after the official launch.



Digg and Slashdot spreading FUD... Oh wait...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Jul-2007 09:30

There you go, the "wisdon of crowds" shows its face again. One of the top stories on Digg and Slashdot this weekend is how the "US Government is checking up on Vista Users"...

So what's the FUD, I mean story? Someone noticed "lag" on his Internet connection and ran a sniffer program to see the traffic on his network. He was horrified to find out incoming connection requests from other computers connect to the Department of Defense and other organisations.

Wow! It never occurred to this person that the DoD could be infected with bots? Or perhaps there are Torrent users on these networks and his IP address was last used by a Torrent user, so those machines are just trying to reconnect?

No, the first thing in his mind was "Quick, bring the tin foil hat! The government is looking at my machine and Microsoft is participating on this!"

Now, let's give it... At least the more technically minded people on Slashdot pointed out that this could be the "background noise" he was seeing in the network, while the Digg users were quick with intelligent comments such as this:


What a surprise.

When are you people going to finally wake up and realize what's going on?

We're at war alright, only it's about us vs. the "terrorists"; it is about us vs. the corporate imperialists. They are the ones who own the terrorists AND our governments.


Oh, I forgot. Good stories about Microsoft are buried at Digg, only bad Microsoft stories and good Apple stories go up on the that site.



Silverstripe, a New Zealand made open-source CMS

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jul-2007 12:22

Last week I had the chance to "experience" Silverstripe for a couple of hours, guided by one of the founders (and now Chief Marketing Officer), Sig Magnusson.

The company has just released an updated version of their Content Management System (CMS) tool and is working hard adding new features by the day.

The core team is only 16 people, but the company is currently "hosting" ten interns brought in with their participation in the Google Summer of Code. The Google SoC allows students from all over the world to participate in projects with companies that have been approved by Google and provide mentoring during the process. Companies list their projects, and Google will match students with companies - sometimes in a competitive environment where students look for projects in their area of expertise.


Silverstripe is written in PHP and very modular. During the preview Sig installed a demo version in about three minutes - including the explanations for each step. I saw a test website up and running in no time. Modules can be added at any time, and work as plug-ins, adding features to the core functionality.

Sig told me the new version is much quicker to production, with a default theme that will get new users up and running in no time, while they customise the site to their look and feel.

Currently using PHP 5 and MySQL, one of the Google SoC-sponsored projects is the support for a broad range of database platforms, using the PHP 5 Data Objectes (PDO). Other projects included OpenID support, extended reporting, Google Maps support, localisation features and more.

The platform can be used for any type of CMS-based website, and includes plug-ins for forums, Flickr picture streams and more. One of the new features, also result of this year's Google SoC is the addition of web marketing promotions tools making it easy to create Sitemaps and automatically generate Google AdWords campaign to promote the site with Google's advertising solution.

You can download Silverstripe free. The company offers consulting services. Silverstripe is one of the applications nominated for the New Zealand Open Source Awards 2007 (and Sig wouldn't mind you voting for them).



The Apple iPhone in New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jul-2007 10:35

I am reading the New Zealand Herald story "Tech disciples await 'Jesus' phone" and I am worried about this poor people who can pay $1100 for an iPhone here in New Zealand, without knowing all the limitations.

Let's see: a company is importing those devices into the country, and even though people are buying an iPod with phone, they can't connect it directly to the local GSM (for now) operator Vodafone New Zealand. Why? Because it's locked to AT&T's network in the U.S.

So the options are:

a) buy an iPhone and use it as an iPod only and browse the Internet through Wi-Fi (which is not available everywhere you know) therefore having an iPhone without the phone, or

b) buy an iPhone and use it as an iPhone but with an AT&T number, paying to roaming fees to place and receive phone calls, paying four times the normal SMS prices and forcing your friends to place long distance international calls to reach you on an American number (did I mention you'd be paying to receive those calls as well?)

Now, what the article (and the importer) fails to mentions is that AT&T policy is that if the network detects more than four months of usage outside their "home" location, the cellular connection is cut:


An obliging customer service agent explained that if AT&T's computer sees four months of chitchatting in Alaska (or elsewhere out of AT&T coverage area), service will be automatically canceled.

But if you call AT&T ahead of time and explain to them that you'll be on an extended trip, you can avoid service termination -- at least for a little while.

In a second phone call, Siegel testily confirmed the four-month figure.


The importer also confuses EDGE with GPRS: "Surfing via wireless broadband network is fast; web access via EDGE on Vodafone is much slower" but fail to let users know that there's no Vodafone EDGE network in New Zealand, it's all GPRS - and patchy performance as we know. Of course the New Zealand Herald doesn't mention this in the article either.

In the meantime, kiwis could look for the cheap Chinese knock off on Trade Me, the "iPhone inspired" tPhone.





iYomu, a social network for grown ups

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Jul-2007 08:35

There you go, you can't beat the power of the web for finding things... This week I got an invitation to meet with the folks behind a new social network site (yes, another one), called iYomu.

To start with I didn't know the site's name, but a quick Google search on one of the owners revealed a LinkedIn profile. In that profile there was this word out of context - iYomu, so I just had to enter this in the browser to find the website - still protected by a password, which I was supposed to get during the meeting with the owners.

It just happen that this morning I read one of the blogs in my vast collection of RSS feeds and found that the password to create an account is iyomubeta (thanks Sandy). Go on, you know you want to try. And you will be in to win US$5,000 (hey, I am just diluting the chances to everyone else now).

The first thing that caught my attention was the tagline - Socia Networking for Grown Ups. Seriously, it just looks like placing every other social network services in the same "for teenagers basket", but I really think LinkedIn and FaceBook have their merits, and are not for young kids only, au contraire.

And why use Flash for the most interesting things? It means I can't browse my communities from my mobile device, which I can happily do on FaceBook Mobile.

I will be getting some more information next week when meeting with iYomu and will be able to post more.

I am in both LinkedIn and FaceBook, feel free to add me as a friend. And I am on Geekzone Friends as well, of course.

UPDATE: I have posted a follow up now, after the meeting with iYomy directors.



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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A couple of blog posts you should read:

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