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Vodafone Simple Tariff for data roaming - here but not for us

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Jun-2007 09:26

Vodafone Group PLC has announced its Vodafone Connect Abroad plan, which will see laptop users accessing the Internet while roaming to other Vodafone networks for about EUR 12/day. The company says "almost unlimited" but in the fineprint it reveal that "unlimited" really means 50 MB per day, and the standard per megabyte charges after this.

Better than nothing anyway. This will be available for customer of European subsidiaries while roaming in some of the Vodafone networks around the world, including Vodafone Australia and Vodafone New Zealand.


With 'Vodafone Connect Abroad' customers will be able to use their laptops when overseas to surf the internet, check emails and access their company intranet, whether they are sitting in a hotel room, in a cafe or on the beach. The new tariff ensures the comfort of straightforward pricing combined with a familiar and reliable service. In countries where there is an HSDPA network, Vodafone Connect Abroad customers using a Vodafone Mobile Connect USB modem or a Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G broadband data card will be able to connect just as they do in their home country and benefit from download speeds of up to 3.6Mbps.

Any Vodafone customer who uses a wireless data product, uses their mobile handset as a modem or has a laptop with an embedded SIM card, can sign-up for Vodafone Connect Abroad free of charge. Customers will pay nothing until they choose to connect abroad for a 24hr session. They can access the internet, emails or business network as many times as they choose for e12 (excl. VAT) in the same 24 hr period on any Vodafone or partner network included in the offer.

The move to introduce Vodafone Connect Abroad, which was first announced in March 2007, builds on the success of the company's innovative voice roaming tariff, Vodafone Passport, which since June 2005 has brought lower, reassuring prices to over 12 million European customers' mobile phone bills when travelling
overseas.


Meanwhile, we at Vodafone New Zealand still pay NZ$10 from the word GO! while roaming to other Vodafone networks. Granted 50 MB is not "unlimited", but it would be a great start of a service.

When is Vodafone New Zealand going to "unleash" Vodafone Passport services and tariffs here? Perhaps now that their billing system has been migrated (not without pain to users) we could expect to see some improvement in the offerings to Vodafone customers?




AT&T EDGE, Vodafone HSDPA and business practices

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Jun-2007 08:27

If the stories coming out (RCR NewsGizmodo, Gizmodo) that AT&T has beefed up its EDGE network because of the Apple iPhone launch are correct, I can only think of one question: why networks won't offer the best service these days, being happy with sending customers awya the "best effort" excuse?


An AT&T employee who works on Operations tells us that the carrier ordered a last-minute beefing up of its EDGE throughput, latency and coverage in anticipation of the iPhone. The operation, internally referenced as "Fine Edge" will continue until June 15th, and has been going on for as many as 6 weeks.

EDGE is slow, but at least at AT&T, the implementation isn't limited by the protocol itself. Rather, the limiting factor is, according to our source, the data backend and the way the towers are configured to allocate bandwidth to data and calls. And according to an internal doc, they're dropping in more T-1s in their poorest performing towers, hoping to get that paltry 40kbps performance to a new minimum of 80kpbs. (EDGE's real world max is about 200kbps.) That's still painfully slow, but we're not ones to look a gift WWAN upgrade in the mouth.


Hmmm. Isn't this the same problem that Vodafone New Zealand is facing? Good HSDPA infrastructure (up to 7.2 Mbps in some places), but a backhaul providing poor performance overall? Or are these just the rumours I hear?

UPDATE: Verizon Wireless (which Vodafone PLC is one of the major shareholders) has upgraded 100% of its U.S. network to CDMA EV-DO Rev A - which leaves any EDGE network in the dust, by a factor of ten. Competition is good...



Winner of Most Obscene Banner Award 2007

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Jun-2007 09:52

The winner of Most Obscene Banner Award 2007 must be handed to the the crew who created this ad for Yahoo!Xtra Answers:



It's obviously an air guitar solo, right?



Windows Live Folders live... but not so fast

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Jun-2007 09:10

I really don't like the way Microsoft does things, launching, but not launching. Like Windows Live Folders, an open beta which is supposed to be live now. But it's not:

Windows Live Folder not available in New Zealand
My system language is set as English (New Zealand). And no, I am not changing my system to satisfy their silly requirements.

Their loss. Let's use AOL's Xdrive instead. It offers up to 5 GB free, instead of 500 MB of Windows Live Folders.

UPDATE: To access the Windows Live Folders with US English directly use this link.



NewsGator Enterprise Server 2.0, FeedDemon, linkblog

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jun-2007 21:34

Back in November 2005 I posted a full NewsGator Enterprise Server (NGES) 1.0 review on Geekzone, and since then I have been using FeedDemon as my preferred tool for RSS reading, synchronising to my NGES server here at home. I also have the mobile location enabled on this server, so I can read my RSS feeds on the go, from any mobile browser.

This setup is an example of a small NGES deployment, and of course most individual users will end up using the web-based NewsGator service, which can also be used with FeedDemon.

What I wanted to do

Last month I learned about FeedDemon 2.5 and a new feature that allows synchronising clipping folders with the NGES. Clipping folders are special folders where you can drag-and-drop RSS items to share with other users within your organisation for example.

I immediately thought this would be great for creating a linkblog here on Geekzone - but I didn't know how much work that would involve. At the end it worked, and here are some of my findings through the process.

Things I had to do to get there

First, FeedDemon 2.5 requires NGES 2.0 and up - and I was running NGES 1.4. So I had to update that, which required updating my Microsoft SQL 2000 database software to the newer Microsoft  SQL 2005 version. Not impossible, and actually it took absolutely no time.

After the installation - which simply updated my current NGES database, so nothing wasn't lost, I found that the stock FeedDemon 2.5 is not actually ready for NGES, so I had to run a FeedDemon 2.5 beta software.

I initially had Beta 1 installed, and I am currently running Beta 4, which is much better and stable - including fixes for some problems I've found with FeedDemon 2.0 in my previous installation.

Some new features

NGES 2.0 introduces a lot of features and before explaining how I got to my linkblog, I will post some screenshots:

The new NewsGator Enterprise Server 2.0 interface





Automatic tagging




 


User features: mark as read, flag post, save to clippings, forward via e-mail, tag, rate




Feed "Scorecard"




FeedDemon 2.5: "Dinosaurs"

Inside your organisation you will be able to share attention data between users - and extract a lot of information about the feeds in use. The new reporting feature is great for IT admins, people managing attention data within the organisation and marketing specialists "managing" your company's presence on the Internet.

The new version allows tagging, and automatically creates tags from articles downloaded to the server. It also allows users to add tags to articles, and clip those to shared areas.

It also makes heavy use of AJAX, causing the NGES homepage to load slowly at first - I recommend you keep the page always loaded, since it refreshs automatically. I also noticed that Firefox seems to perform a little bit better than Internet Explorer 7 - albeit I had not taken any formal timings in the process. As usual, your mileage may vary in this case.

The software is not completely bug free though. I've noticed a problem found in NGES 1.0, fixed with NGES 1.4 was back with NGES 2.0: the folder counters in the mobile location are completely wrong. I've reported this to support and something is going to be done about it.

Creating my linkblog

But what I wanted was to get to the linkblog feature - so my plan was to use FeedDemon 2.5 on my desktop, as usual, to "clip" interesting articles, having this synchronised back to my NGES, and from there use the public RSS feed for the clipping folder and have it as a source for a new FeedBurner feed.

I was thiking I could use the FeedBurner "FeedBoost" feature, that allows users to add a small javascript to create a list of articles from a RSS feed - thus having my linkblog automatically generated.

But it didn't work. I found out the RSS feed for the clipping folder is actually password protected, and this can not be changed (so I am told by the NewsGator support people). I also find out FeedBurner does not support password protected sources, so I was back to square one.

My next idea was to use a NGES feature called "Headlines". It's very simple: when "Headlines" is active you can insert a small javascript code in any webpage and it will fetch the articles from the server, presenting these in a list. Very similar to FeedBurner's own FeedBoost actually.

"Locations" can only be created against feeds in "My Folders", and is not relevant to feeds in "My Clippings", so had to subscribe to my own clipping feed, create a "Location" with this single feed in it, and enable "Headlines". This actually worked perfectly and did exactly what I wanted.

But since this is my test server at home, I didn't want to have an unknown amount of traffic coming down my cable modem connection. So I thought hard and found a way around it: the public NewsGator web-based service does support authentication, unlike FeedBurner. And it also supports "Headlines" in its main "Location".

I just had to subscribe to my clipping RSS feed through the free NewsGator web-based service, which worked well, and then enable "Headlines" for the default location.

Like FeedBurner would, the NewsGator web-based service acts as a proxy between my linkblog and my NGES, thus solving the possible load problem on my home server.

Linkblog working

After all the updates, tests, support inquiries to NewsGator and FeedBurner (thank you guys!) I managed to get this working and have my linkblog up and running.

I could have migrated my feeds to Google Reader, which provides a "linkblog" feature automatically, but I simply can't think of replacing FeedDemon - this thing is fast and very convenient.

Of course you can do the same with a combination of FeedDemon and the NewsGator web-based service, if you don't run your own NGES. You don't even need FeedDemon, if you want to solely use the web-based service provided.

Now I am ready to test NewsGator Go! for Mobile on my Pocket PC...

UPDATE: Newsgator support pointed to a way of making the shared clipping RSS public, that is available without a password required. So I now have it also through FeedBurner to provide a public RSS feed, whch is now up in the linkblog.



The best (and funniest) Apple iPhone video review you will see before launch

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jun-2007 11:00

This is from The New York Times ("The iPhone Matches Most of its Hype") and worth watching:



There's also a video from Walter Mossberg's review on The Wall Street Journal ("The iPhone is Breakthrough Handheld computer").






Microsoft please stop messing with my location

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jun-2007 09:45

This morning I tried to visit the Microsoft Support microsite to check a KB for more information on a suggested automatic update for my Windows Vista 64 bit system.

Much to my surprise, instead of the usual Microsoft U.S. support site I was greeted with the Microsoft Hong Kong site:


Firefox correctly goes to the U.S. site... And If I restart Internet Explorer then it goes to the correct page. But I don't want to lose all the other tabs and pages I have loaded!

Hello! My system is set as English (New Zealand), and so is Internet Explorer. I have no idea what this page says - lucky there's an "english" version, but I don't want that version. Microsoft, please stop messing with people's destinations.

Or shall I start rebooting Windows Vista every day now?






Is Vodafone New Zealand planning a new music store service?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Jun-2007 12:14

I found today an interesting item when searching for "New Zealand" in one of the press release databases I use:


As well as Sweden, Omnifone confirms it has now entered into partnerships with 30 mobile operators with networks in the following territories: Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK.



Omnifone is the company behind the MusicStation, a flat-fee mobile music subscription service. Users pays 2.99 euros per week to access all you can eat music from your mobile device. If you stop paying, the music is gone.

So I contacted both Vodafone New Zealand and Telecom New Zealand about this, trying to find which one is the "confimed" network Omnifone hinted in their press release.

Telecom New Zealand came back to me with "some discussions were had – nothing more serious than that", so I though it could be Vodafone New Zealand (which haven't replied yet).

After a quick Google Search I found an old forum thread here on Geekzone, where this very topic was being discussed. Also, there is the partnership between Vodacom and Omnifone already.

So, could it be that Vodafone New Zealand will add this to their Vodafone Music Store? Their current business model is simply direct sales, with a song track download for your mobile device or PC for a set price. MusicStation would be an interesting complement to this service.

UPDATE: I've received a phone call from Vodafone New Zealand... They confirm there's a global partnership with Omnifone, but there are no current plans to deploy this service in New Zealand. They can also confirm the Vodafone Music Store is doing well - just this week they entered the New Zealand charts with a single only available through the Vodafone on-line store.


Vodafone has signed a deal with Omniphone at group level, however here in New Zealand we're very happy with the progress of the Vodafone Music Store (the number one seller of music singles in New Zealand) and have no plans to change that model any time soon.


UPDATE: I also got a reply from Omnifone, who says that any service launch would be confirmed a day before its "go live" date, so they can't confirm or deny anything.




Scamming the scammed

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Jun-2007 12:10

It looks like scamming by sending those "you won the lottery" or "your relative died in a plane crash" is not making that much money these days, so now the story is "you have been scammed, but we are here to repay you":


ECO-BANK PLC
ECOBANK/UNITED NATIONS 2007 SCAM VICTIMS COMPENSATIONS PAYMENTS.
DIRECTOR

ATTN: SIR/MADAM,


SCAMMED VICTIM/$100,000 BENEFICIARIES.
REF/PAYMENTS CODE:ECB/06654 $100,000 USD.


This is to bring to your notice that we are delegated from the UNITED NATIONS in Central Bank to pay 150  victims of scam $100,000 USD (One Hundred Thounsand
Dollars) each. You are listed and approved for this payment as one of the scammed victims to be paid this amount, get back to this office as soon as possible for the immediate payments of your $100,000 USD compensations funds.

On this faithful recommendations, want you to know that during the last U.N.
meetings held at Abuja, Nigeria, it was alarming  on the money lost by various individuals to the scams artists operating in syndicates all over the world today. In other to compensate victims, the UNITED NATIONS Body is now paying 150 victims $100,000 USD each in accordance with the UNITED NATIONS recommendations. Due to the corrupt and inefficient Banking Systems in Nigeria, the payments are to be paid by Central Bank Nigeria as corresponding paying bank under funding assistance by The Rabo Bank, based in  London UK. for funds remittance.

Benefactor of this compensation will have to be first cleared and recommended for payment by ECO BANK PLC.

According to the number of applicants at hand, 114 Beneficiaries has been paid, over a half of the victims are from the United States, we still have a pending of 36 compensations left to be paid. Your particulars was mentioned by one of the Syndicates who was arrested as one of their victims of the operations, you are hereby warned not to communicate or duplicate this message to him for any reason what so ever as the U.S. secret service is already on trace of the other criminals. So keep it secret till they are all apprehended.  Other victims who have not been contacted can submit their application as well for scrutiny and possible consideration.

You can receive your compensations payments via any of this options you Choose, DRAFT/CHEQUE PAYMENTS or DIRECT WIRE TRANSFER.

We shall feed you with further modalities as soon as we get response from you.


Send a copy of your response to official email: ecobankplc_nig07@yahoo.es


Yours Faithfully,
IYAMAH SYLVANIUS.
SCAMMED VICTIM/REF/PAYMENTS CODE:ECB/06654 $100,000 USD.



Simply hilarious.



SuperHappyDevHouse Aotearoa is go!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jun-2007 20:24

It's now confirmed: 7 July is the first SuperHappyDevHouse Aotearoa hack-a-ton, developer, interaction designer, user experience creation day in Wellington!



SuperHappyDevHouse Aotearoa is inspired by the SuperHappyDevHouse, a monthly hackathon event in the US, combining serious and not-so-serious productivity with a fun and exciting party atmosphere.

The whole thing is about rapid development, ad-hoc collaboration and cross pollination. Hardcore coders, l33t hax0r, passionate designers, and other types that enjoy software and technology development will be at home in the SuperHappyDevHouse.

This is not a marketing event. It's intended for passionate and creative technical people that want to have some fun, learn new things, and meet new people.


The pilot is "by invitation only" because we need to measure attendance, gather feedback on structure, etc. If you have received an invitation please reply now.

If you did not receive an invitation for the pilot, we will be running this on a regular basis and will make it an open event. So either keep checking the SuperHappyDevHouse Aotearoa wiki, or contact me or one of the organisers.

A big thank you to all our sponsors: Actrix, Catalyst, Citylink, Google, Microsoft, and Mindscape. Without your help things would be a bit harder. Also thank you to the original SuperHappyDevHouse for letting us use the name.



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.

Here's is my full disclosure post.

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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