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Coding, coding new features for Geekzone...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Jul-2007 20:54

During the last two days I've been coding furiously. It's something new for Geekzone, and it will complement the forums, the blogs and more.

So far the feedback from people who have seen these new features is great.

If all goes well, it should be released on Geekzone the week of 16 July.



The Geekzone Chat Page is active again

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Jul-2007 14:30

Just a few days ago we announced the #geekzone IRC channel moved to a new server. And now I can also announce the Geekzone Chat page is working with this new server.


So even if you don't have an IRC client installed, just load the Geekzone Chat page and you will be automatically connected to our on-line chat. There's always someone there for a nice talk - most of the times it's a busy forum.



The OECD Communications Oulook 2007 is available for download now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Jul-2007 10:30

If you have any interest in the state of telecommunications, you might want to read the OECD Telecommunications Outlook 2007 report (store link).


Voice continues to be the key driver in OECD telecommunication markets which have now attained revenues of USD 1 trillion. However, voice services, and the structure of telecommunications revenues, are evolving. Mobile services now make up 40% of all OECD-area telecommunications revenues, and mobile subscribers outnumber fixed subscribers by a ratio of 3 to 1. At the same time, technologies such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) are exerting strong downward pressure on prices for voice services. The impact of VoIP is apparent in prices for international fixed-line calls, which many VoIP operators now bundle into flat-rate subscription plans. As a result, the future of voice revenue streams is unclear.

The number of high-speed Internet connectyions is one of the main reasons why technologies such as VoIP have had such an impact on the market. Broadband is quickly becoming the dominant technology for Internet access throughout the OECD area; 60% of the area's 256 million Internet subscribers now have a broadband connection.


UPDATE: As noted I had the link to the document, when it should be to the bookshop. It wasn't my intention and the link is now corrected.



How hackers planted trojan code into the Vodafone Greece network

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Jul-2007 21:52

Just now I was alerted to an interesting story that has been happening on the other side of the world, involving hackers, ministers, and Vodafone Greece.


The spying case, where the calls of around 100 people using Vodafone’s network were secretly tapped, remains unsolved and is still being investigated. Also complicating the case are question marks over the suicide in March 2005 of a top engineer at Vodafone Group in Greece in charge of network planning.



This is just an introduction. The juicy bits are available on IEEE Spectrum, the flagship IEEE publication:


The victims were customers of Athens-based Vodafone-Panafon, generally known as Vodafone Greece, the country's largest cellular service provider; Tsalikidis was in charge of network planning at the company. A connection seemed obvious. Given the list of people and their positions at the time of the tapping, we can only imagine the sensitive political and diplomatic discussions, high-stakes business deals, or even marital indiscretions that may have been routinely overheard and, quite possibly, recorded.

Even before Tsalikidis's death, investigators had found rogue software installed on the Vodafone Greece phone network by parties unknown. Some extraordinarily knowledgeable people either penetrated the network from outside or subverted it from within, aided by an agent or mole. In either case, the software at the heart of the phone system, investigators later discovered, was reprogrammed with a finesse and sophistication rarely seen before or since.

A study of the Athens affair, surely the most bizarre and embarrassing scandal ever to engulf a major cellphone service provider, sheds considerable light on the measures networks can and should take to reduce their vulnerability to hackers and moles.

We now know that the illegally implanted software, which was eventually found in a total of four of Vodafone's Greek switches, created parallel streams of digitized voice for the tapped phone calls. One stream was the ordinary one, between the two calling parties. The other stream, an exact copy, was directed to other cellphones, allowing the tappers to listen in on the conversations on the cellphones, and probably also to record them. The software also routed location and other information about those phone calls to these shadow handsets via automated text messages.

We still don't know who committed this crime. A big reason is that the UK-based Vodafone Group, one of the largest cellular providers in the world, bobbled its handling of some key log files. It also reflexively removed the rogue software, instead of letting it continue to run, tipping off the perpetrators that their intrusion had been detected and giving them a chance to run for cover. The company was fined €76 million this past December.



We have so far being led to believe mobile communications are secure and encrypted. But what actually seems to happen is that the links between handsets and cell sites are safe - but what about the inside of the companies?

How is the New Zealand security going? Is our government evaluating this? Are individuals safe from identity theft and other things that can happen when people interfere with communications?





#geekzone IRC channel moving servers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jul-2007 16:33

Brad Stewart, one of the moderators in the official #geekzone IRC channel has just advised of a server change:


Due to the impending death of zIRC the official Geekzone IRC channel will move to the synIRC servers at 9pm tonight.

Head to #geekzone on irc.synirc.org to find us. You will need to re-register your nickname, please use the same one as you use on these forums.

If you need any help with this process please ask a channel op or PM one of the moderators on the forums.

We will have a presence on zIRC for as long as possible to point people in the right direction, but connect to synIRC as soon as you can.


Tonight as in 11 July 2007 9pm NZST (click for other timezones).

I hope to see you in the #geekzone IRC channel sometime soon!



Some tips for the Telecom broadband support outsource to Manila

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jul-2007 07:45

Lance has posted ten tips for Telecom's outsourcing to Manila and these are the highlights in my view:


Sixth, pay those operators well so that you get high quality staff and so that turnover is low. If you are seeking to squeeze on prices then you’ll have predictable results.

Seventh: Invest a fortune in expertise into the systems that the operators will use. Don’t use the guys Ferrit used to build the systems.

Tenth: Make your sucky sucky broadband work properly so that we don’t have to call in the first place, and we are happier if we do have to.



Go read the full list over Lance's blog. Oh, yes, you reader from Telecom can read it too...



The Apple iPhone, IMAP and Exchange ActiveSync

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jul-2007 07:34

Just before the Apple iPhone launch there were rumours that Apple would announce a license deal with Microsoft, to enable the Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) on its new device, making it more "interesting" for corporate types.

Of course, as we all know, this didn't happen (the announcement), but it doesn't mean the iPhone can't already work with Exchange Servers, through the IMAP protocol.

The Exchange Server team has posted a comparison on their blog, showing the differences and simillarities between the experience provided by EAS and IMAP.

If your company is interested in deploying iPhones for their work force (yes, I know some IT departments have already been asked for it) then you should read that blog entry.




Social networks widget and gadgets?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jul-2007 07:07

Continuing my previous post about the social networks I'm using... At the moment I am on LinkedIn, which I joined years ago. I am also on Facebook, which I joined a few weeks back. And then Twitter and Pownce. A friend has invited me to Jaiku, which I haven't joined yet but might now, to try some of its features.

All those have something in common: e-mail overload. Pownce send me an e-mail for every action, and I really think it should provide a private RSS feed.

Facebook does provide a RSS feed, but only for status, not for all the other activities (and believe me, Facebook seems to be the busiest one I've seen around).

Twitter provides a RSS feed, but not LinkedIn.

In terms of inviting friends  LinkedIn is the easiest one, providing an Outlook Add-In to help you keep on top of your contacts based on your Outlook contents. It also has an Internet Explorer Helper that will load your Outlook contacts and allow you to select which ones to invite to your network. Facebook allows you to import a .CSV file exported from your Outlook, so it's not that bad either.

Of course all those have different targets: Twitter, Jaiku and Pownce are for micro bloggers, with Pownce placing some effort into the Instant Messaging and File Sharing things, including a nifty Pownce Client based on Adobe's AIR. It's an akpha still, but I would love to see it being tucked away in the System Tray on a Windows PC, not taking space on my desktop or taskbar. Twitter even shows up with a Twitter Gadget for Windows Vista.

LinkedIn is a professional network, and I try not to invite personal friends to my connections, unless they also happen to work with me in some relation. And I see Facebook being really the big "social" network tool, with emphasis on "social", not "business".

I would also like to see a Facebook Gadget for Windows Vista Sidebar and for Mac Dashboard. At least with the stream of updates from friends and with a way to set my own status, plus all the mesages that would overload my e-mail.

As for e-mail overload, I have rules in my Outlook that will automatically move those messages to other folders, so they don't clutter my Inbox and I can deal with them in my own time.





Fring is a somewhat decent VoIP and IM for Windows Mobile

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Jul-2007 14:03

I've installed Fring on my Palm Treo 750v (WCDMA, Vodafone New Zealand) - and even though it is not listed it also works well on my Treo 700wx (CDMA EVDO, Telecom New Zealand).

In shor this is an IM and VoIP client. It works with Skype, MSN Messenger, Twitter, GoogleTalk and SIP services, all logged in at the same time. The only problem here is that you don't have a way to logoff from each service individually.

Installation is very easy: you enter your mobile number in their website, and you will receive a SMS with a download link. No need for cables, or a PC - simply download over the air.

The Services Configuration is a bit strange, but I guess you only really need to change those things when adding or removing a service, really. SIP works ok, with a bit of delay on WCDMA, which I was expecting really.

It also works well with Skype, which is great, since the original Skype client will simply crash on my Palm Treo devices.

I had a problem with my password, which had a "+" somewhere in it and was ok with the original software, but stopped working after an update. There's no login at Fring, so I submitted a support ticket, and the good folks at Fring changed my password after proper credentials were established.

I also just realised the Fring account is your phone number plus user name, so I now need the password reset for my second device (the Treo 700wx).

This is the first SIP client that works on my Palm Treo devices. The X-Lite software is great on Pocket PCs, but it doesn't like the 240 x 240 pixels square screen on the Palm handhelds.

The software runs on Windows Mobile and Symbian devices.





Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 coming soon

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Jul-2007 08:46

There are lots of rumours around the Internet about an upcoming Windows Vista Sevice Pack 1. I can only say that it will be welcome - there are lots of small things that could work much better on Windows Vista - including some ReadyBoost problems, SD card support, slow shutdown and other minor annoyances.

Mary Jo Foley lists on her blog fixes we could expect to see:


* Performance tweaks lessening the amount of time it takes to copy files and shut down Vista machines (Yeah, I know Microsoft said Viista shutdown speed wasn’t an issue. Guess users weren’t so crazy, after all.)
* Improved transfer performance and decreased CPU utilization via support for SD Advanced Direct Memory Access (DMA)
* Support for ExFat, the Windows file format for flash memory storage and other consumer devices
* Improvements to BitLocker Drive Encryption to allow not just encryption of the whole Vista volume, but also locally created data volumes
* The ability to boot Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) on an x64 machine
* Improved success rate for firewalled MeetingSpace and Remote Assistance connections






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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If you'd like to help me keep Geekzone going, please use this Geekzone Amazon affiliate link when placing any orders on Amazon.

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