My window to the world

Download the Geekzone Gadget for Windows Vista Sidebar now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Apr-2007 11:16

One of the many feedbacks we receive from our users regarding the Geekzone forums is "How can I keep up with all the new posts and replies?"

You can of course add each forum's own RSS feed to your feed reader. Or you can go the cool way and add our new Geekzone Gadget for Windows Sidebar to your Windows Vista-based PC running Windows Sidebar.

This gadget will keep an eye in all our forums and show the ones with most recent topics or replies on top of the list. You can then click on a forum name to see the most recent discussions with posts or replies. You will also see a colour coded "meter" showing how busy the forum is.

While this is not the final v1.0 release, it's really close and you can download and use it now. Soon we will have a release with a couple of cosmetic changes - but the main functionality is there.

Also, for v2.0 we are already planning things such as selecting which forums to keep an eye on for you, and the option to post a reply to a discussion directly from the gadget.

If you have suggestions for new features, please post a comment here or in our forums. The software is being developed by the folks from Provoke.

You will need Windows Vista and the Sidebar application to have this gadget installed on your PC. The gadget can be docked or floating on your desktop.

You can find more Windows Sidebar gadgets online. Check the official Windows Vista Sidebar web site or the New Zealand Windows Vista Sidebar web site for some localised gadgets.

Why a Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget, you ask? Well, being a "geek" web site, we found out that about 15% of our users are already running Windows Vista. While we appreciate we have people visiting Geekzone with other platforms, it's just the case of deciding where to start and economically this would make sense. If you are keen to develop a similar gadget for other platforms, contact me and we can discuss.

Terrorized by war on terror

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Mar-2007 19:06

The non-technology post of the day... A very interesting article by Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter:  "Terrorized by 'War on Terror'" (Washington Post).

It should be a lesson to all leaders. A must read to all lawmakers.

Threats are not nice

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Mar-2007 11:07

There's a reason why we do not like Internet trolls. But it is worst when anonymous comments turn into threats.

This shouldn't be happening. Kathy Sierra shouldn't be afraid.

A great blog, with good market, marketing, product placement comments. But it seems some jerk thinks the person behind it is just another target for his/hers threats.

Sad. I really hope she's got some good police officers investigating. Some clued in police officers. Go get the prick.

I wonder if the New Zealand Police is prepared to work on such cases. I read somewhere they have some technology guys around.

The mainstream media dilemma

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Mar-2007 17:55

Risking the ire of professional journalists, here is an interesting take on why newspapers' credibility (and consequent business) may be in decline. Blame it on "MSM disconnects", according to the Venture Chronicles:

There are two aspects to newspaper media that people in the newspaper business would rather not talk about. The first is that the quality of writing and original research for that matter in many of the top blogs is far superior to newspapers. For example, look at Powerline’s recent coverage of a mini-controversy brewed up by a local reporter over the investiture ceremony for U.S. Attorney Paulose in Minnesota and you will find a well written and well researched piece that thoroughly eviscerates the reporter who did the original story.

Interested in any coverage of important legal decisions, do you really need the NYTimes when the Volokh Conspiracy not only gets the facts right but gives you the perspective of a respected law professor as well? I’ve learned more about the Supreme Court and recent decisions from the SCOTUS Blog than I ever did from a newspaper.

Also note that many journalists are bloggers and the post ends with this:

It occured to me shortly after hitting post on this that I should add a comment about the fact that journalism isn’t itself flawed but rather the business of journalism as it currently exists. I have a great many friends who are writers by trade and they are an impressive lot with instincts and discipline that escape most bloggers, so the notion that everything is going citizen just doesn’t hold up. It’s more subtle than that, there is a fundamental distribution model shift coupled with an economic shift on top of a generational shift that is redefining how people get information.

UPDATE: I had a big rant here, but I was told it wasn't objective enough. And because of that I will leave only the links and excerpts from the blog I am linking to. Apparently criticism goes only one way...

Novatel Wireless launches new HSDPA/HSUPA products. No support replies yet

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Feb-2007 18:19

Yes, I will keep complaining about this one... Novatel Wireless just issued a press release about their wonderful new line of HSDPA/HSUPA PC cards and Express cards:

Novatel Wireless, Inc. (Nasdaq:NVTL), a leading provider of wireless broadband access solutions, today introduced new, next-generation offerings in its high-speed download packet access/high-speed upload packet access (HSDPA/HSUPA) family of mobile broadband access products. The family of products includes the Merlin X950D ExpressCard, the Ovation MC870D HSDPA USB Modem, the Expedite® EU870D embedded modules and the XUA-1 ExpressCard to USB Adapter.

Introducing new technologies like HSUPA, as well as diversity, equalization and GPS, simplifying installation and designing new form factors for ease-of-use, highly differentiates Novatel Wireless as a company that is tracking the evolving needs of users, OEMs and network operators, and mapping product innovation to those requirements, said Brad Weinert, acting CEO and COO of Novatel Wireless. We will continue to deliver innovative products to the market that support our operators and OEMs increasing requirements, while continuing to offer added value by developing software solutions that take our devices to a new level of functionality for the user.

The Merlin X950D ExpressCard is a next-generation global, tri-band HSUPA and quad-band EDGE/GPRS wireless modem. The card can be used in both ExpressCard/34 and 54 slots as well as with Novatel Wireless adapters in PCMCIA and USB slots. Unique to the Merlin X950D, full 2.1 Mbps HSUPA and HSDPA 7.2 Mbps is now a reality. A firmware upgrade will be available to deliver the full 2.1 Mbps HSUPA performance. Mobile users, worldwide, can now enjoy full 3.5G capability in their wireless computing devices as well as utilize the GPS capability offered in the ExpressCard.

I am glad to see their R&D department works fine. It is a shame the Novatel Wireless support is not able to reply a simple question submited through their supports forms, with confirmation e-mail delivered to me.

Shame Vodafone had to use these guys, instead of going with Sierra Wireless, who announced full support for Windows Vista, including WHQL signed drivers ready for all current Sierra Wireless EV-DO cards.

Cleaning up the RSS feed aggregator: removing some non-interesting RSS feeds

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Jan-2007 10:15

Today I removed one RSS feed from my aggregator. Scoble is gone. I followed during the weekend his posts on how he created a (paid) video about Intel's plant and how mad he was after other blogs failed to link to his work.

Well, there you go... Newfound truth: not everyone will link to everything you write. EVen though you think it's a great piece of work.

I am not surprised though, I should have removed the feed much longer ago. Back when Microsoft/AMD gave laptops to bloggers, community sites and MVPs. At that time all was quiet but a voice raised the alarm: "That's my idea of payperpost". I was affected by that post, as many other bloggers.

So there you go. Reality is hard, but you can't point fingers at others without expecting people to point fingers back. Got paid by Intel (or Podtech, as Scoble says) and didn't get the expected links? Too bad, need to find the next best story.

Great summaries for the whole story, from Valleywag:

Robert Scoble: shillling for Intel
Silicon Valley Users Guide: Lessons from the Scobleizer

TomTom GPS device comes with virus

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Jan-2007 10:38

Appalling... First Apple, now TomTom:

The win32.Perlovga.A Trojan and TR/Drop.Small.qp were identified as being resident on the satnav hard drive, within the copy.exe and host.exe files.

What's the problem with manufacturers? Don't they have quality control?

Leaving devices to be manufactured somewhere else (anywhere) without proper control of the environment, can only lead to these kinds of things. How can anyone be sure the outsourced manufacturer is as serious about IT security as we are?

Devices these days are more than specialised gadgets. They have storage, processors, run a mobile OS. People need to be aware that even though those devices may not show signs of infection, they can still be vectors that contamiinate PCs when plugged and an AutoRun action is invoked.

My choice for the best of mobility at the 2007 International CES

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jan-2007 20:26

The 2007 International CES was a great showcase of old stuff. HDDVD, BluRay, HDTV. All shown in 2006, but now bigger, better. You couldn't walk a few steps without going over digital photo frames and USB memory keys.

So here is my pick for the best mobility technologies in the show:

The Qool Labs SkyQube2 gets the top prize. It's a Skype GSM gateway and has the potential to save you lots of money. Just before you go out travelling you remove the SIM card from your mobile and insert into the SkyQube2. You then configure it to use SkypeOut to redirect any incoming calls to your mobile number to a another mobile number (hopefully a prepay SIM card in the country you are visiting) through cheap SkypeOut calls.

This will save you the roaming call costs. And you can plug the SkyQube2 into a landline and have your fixed line calls redirect as well. Sweeeeet!

The next item I liked most was Agere's BluOnyx. This is a credit card-sized device that works as media storage, media distribution, media server, media manager, media everything. You can connect to the BluOnyx through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB.

My last meeting during the 2007 International CES with with Agere's product managers and engineers, and they put an extra effort to show a good product. I am really looking forward to have one to play with sometime in the future.

Then we have the fabric interfaces... Eleksen manufactures the fabric and the platform for these. Two examples are shown here: the messenger back compatible with Microsoft Windows Vista SideShow technology, and a UMPC bag that doubles as a keyboard:

Next in the list would be the S-Xgen, a Windows Mobile Pocket PC device with a fully foldable QWERTY keyboard. Unlike other Pocket PC the S-Xgen comes with ethernet, USB client, USB host, and dedicated media player keys.

Pimp my ride 2007 CES Style (Part 4)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jan-2007 14:55

This is a collection of all cars around the 2007 International CES in Las Vegas. Because of the number of pictures I've separated this entry in four posts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Comment policy on my blog

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Dec-2006 09:25

In the last few days a lot of people posted comments on this blog, for many different reasons, mainly because of the whole Microsoft/AMD/Acer laptop story.

Some comments are not shown and there's a reason for that.

The comment policy here is simple: identify yourself and the comments will be live.

Every time you comment you must enter your name and e-mail address (with optional URL, great for some Google juice). You will automatically receive an e-mail with a special link. Click on that link and your comment will automagically appear.

Your e-mail address is not shown, and it's only used for this confirmation.

Why is this? First to prevent spam in the blog comments. Next because I don't want to go through the comment moderation routine, which would be needed to prevent spam if the e-mail authentication wasn't in place.

If you have something to say, show your face. I am not here to read diatribes from people who hide behind fake e-mail addresses.

Yes, I can see the non-authenticated comments, but in principle I won't approve those because I don't want to give voice to people who rather remain in the shadows while posting their unjustified criticism to the world to read.
It's interesting how some posting a comment here can't do something as simple as follow the rules by entering a valid e-mail address, but at the same time try to appear as righteous?

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. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

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.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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