My window to the world

Air New Zealand charity auctions closing next week

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Dec-2007 18:12

A quick note to let you know that the Kids at Christmas charity auctions at and sponsored by Air New Zealand, are running until 19 December 2007.

There are more than 80 auctions including "Behind the scenes Tour of Weta workshop", a couple of Big Day out tickets, "Auckland Engineering Base Tour" and "Fly a Boeing 777 simulator".  More items are coming soon.

What about two months of unlimited business class travel around the world for two people? Or Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe cooking dinner at your place?

All money raised goes to Make-A-Wish, StarJam and the Starship Foundation, helping children all over New Zealand.

Mobius 2007: In Amsterdam - the flight here

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Nov-2007 18:15

And I am here in Amsterdam now, in my first visit to this city, to attend the Mobius conference (also a first).

So what was good and not so on this trip so far?

First I managed to get upgraded to the Air New Zealand business class all the way from Auckland to London. This is great because Auckland to Los Angeles is a twelve hour overnight flight, and Los Angeles to London is another nine hour flight. The good thing about the Air New Zealand business class is the individual pods with flat beds.

The stop in Los Angeles is only a couple of hours, and you are supposed to be in the transit lounge. But for the business class passengers there's the option to clear the U.S. immigration, walk back to the terminal and visit the Koru Lounge.

I immediatelty left the aeroplane, walked through immigration and customs in less than 15 minutes total - and was stopped in my tracks by the TSA.

When you travel to and through the U.S. you will be in contact with at least three government agencies: immigration, customs and TSA.

I never had problems with the first two. But the TSA... Be prepared for long queues and employees who will look at you with a blank stare and simply "not think".

When I was reentering the terminal I showed my original boarding pass and photo ID (passport). He asked where is my boarding pass. I told him "that's it - it says London Heathrow with today's date". But he wanted one issued in LAX.

So I walked back to an Air New Zealand counter, asked for a new boarding pass and the person behind the counter was amused "they should not ask for a new one".

Well, explain this to the TSA - the Air New Zealand agreement works well with immigration and customs, but not the TSA.

Anyway, I had 90 minutes to have a shower, walk and eat something more substantial in the lounge - but at the boarding time Air New Zealand warned the departure would be delayed for technical reasons.

I think I made the right decision going through directly to the lounge, because everyone else in business class started pouring into the lounge - by then I had at least two hours ahead of the crowd and was able to relax instead of rushing around trying to get to the showers, food, drinks, arm chairs, etc...

The flight to London arrived a few hours late, but by the time I had deplaned in Heathrow Air New Zealand had me booked into another flight to Amsterdam.

London Heathrow is just a mess - hundreds of people waiting for a bus to change terminals, but not enough busses going around. And lots of work in progress. And it looks old. But the pizza was good.

Arriving in Amsterdam was refreshing. The airport is modern and nice. The immigration and customs must be the totalitarian governments worst nightmare: the immigration officer looked at my passport and applied a stamp - no scanning, no fingerprinting, no digital photo, no forms to fill. The same with customs.

Another thing was the impressive size of this airport. Not even in LAX or MIA I've seen this: the aeroplane landed exactly on time and it took 15 minutes rolling on the tarmac to reach the terminal. I've been 60 minutes in an aeroplane in MIA, but not moving, just waiting in the line for the terminal to be ready.

It is cold here, but not worse than back in Wellington at the moment though. Let's see how the next week goes.

Help Crystal win a dream baby shower

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Nov-2007 08:52

Crystal needs your help to win a dream baby shower in a radio contest. Go on, vote for her.

My personal friend Jason Dunn has written about Crystal's battle with cancer before: the family found out about her terminal condition just a couple of months after their baby girl was born.

Crystal’s husband Tony isn’t working because he has to care for her and his daughter, so any funds you can donate to help them out would be greatly appreciated by them and by myself.

If you voted for Crystal and want to do more, donate here. And if you are a Digger, vote here:

The justification for the terrorism raids (NZ)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Nov-2007 09:05

Keep reading on if you are interested in local (national) politics. This is not a technical post.

The Dominion Post has published the evidence New Zealand police has presented to justify the raids based on the Terrorism Suppresion Act.

It is simply incredible that someone living in New Zealand says things like this:

Suspect tells another it would be good to kill Pakeha to get trainees used to killing. Also suggests making their own tracer ammunition and using tungsten projectiles to go through a "cop vest" and through "his f...... mate".
Bug in vehicle, recorded April 6, 2007.

"Get someone to assassinate the prime minister, the new one, next year's one. Just been in office five days, bang ... Yeah. John Key ... just drop a bomb ... Just wait till he visits somewhere and just blow them ... They won't even find you."
Two suspects in bugged vehicle, August 17, 2007.

"They want to start blowing shit up. You know, they want to blow up power plants, gas plants, Telecom, petrol f...... places and shit like that."

Two suspects in bugged vehicle, June 23, 2007.

"You know like the IRA in England ... it's gonna happen here ... I'm ready to die, mate. I'm gonna hurt this country, I've had a gutsful ... I wanna leave this planet making sure that I've done a f...... huge amount of harm to this country."

Suspect recorded on bugged phone, May 26, 2006.

"It'd have to be a, some sort of f......, sudden f......, because what it'll do, it'll come down on the thinking of the people, they'll think it's al Qaeda ... It's gotta be sudden and it's gotta be brutal."
Other suspect says: "Don't piss around with cities or doing the bush thing ... just go to Parliament."

Two suspects in bugged vehicle, August 17, 2007.

"No, I'm teaming up with the Maoris, we have to ... I'll come and see ya, I can't f...... take the white man on without the c...s ... I'm declaring war on this country."

Bugged cellphone, May 22, 2007.

"There's about 10 manuals ... There's the al Qaeda manual and that's f...... good. That's right up to date."
Later another suspect says: "That last exercise was a bit freaky for me, having a gun in my back."
Response: "High level of secrecy, we needed, you know, we need to test people."

Bugged training camp room, June 23, 2007.

Suspect X tells Suspect Y he is tired of playing games. Suspect Y says they need good planning so they don't die on the first day. Both worry about the enemy within their ranks and talk about needing 20 small squads, such as in Iraq, carrying out their own missions.

There you go. Read the full thing on Dominion Post's The Terrorism Files. Here's the editorial with the justification for publishing the files. Agreed with this:

That is more than empty talk. Police needed to treat that seriously and needed to investigate. To do anything less would have been to fail in their duty to protect New Zealanders. We believe that the police were right to act.

However, we also believe the public has the right to make its own judgment on the police's credibility, and to do that it needs as much information as possible, within the bounds of the law and within the bounds of fairness to all those involved. That is why we decided to publish.


Where to this month? Next round of conferences...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Oct-2007 17:20

October and November are going to be busy months for me. It will start late in this month when I am planning to fly to Auckland and pay a visit to the hosting provider where Geekzone is co-located, for some on-site work. The plan is to upgrade the server from Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition to Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition, upgrade the Microsoft SQL Server 2000 to Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and then finally (depending on some last tests) upgrade the server to Windows Server 2008 RC0 as part of an early adopter programme.

I am planning to time my trip to Auckland so that I can then attend Telecom New Zealand's 1st November official announcement of its new mobile handset business, the Okta Mobile brand I posted about before on Geekzone.

Following this, on 7 - 8 November 2007, I will be speaking at the TUANZ Business Internet and Awards 2007 in Wellington. You can catch me in two sessions: one about user-generated content and social media, and then a panel discussion on corporate blogging.

At the end of November I will be heading to Amsterdam to attend the Mobius conference. It will be my first time attending the Mobius - thanks for the invitation and for the nomination (you know who you are):

Mobius is an invitation-only community of the world's most influential technology pundits and online writers. The collective insights, opinions and influence of Mobius drives market trends, industry buzz and the buying behavior of people worldwide.

Some of the sessions are under NDA, but not all, and if it goes like previous meetings you will see most of the content being blogged about.

Microsoft Corp invited me to Mobius, and offered me the option to pay for my trip, which I accepted.

The anti-smacking bill fear - the nanny state

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Aug-2007 08:18

This is not a technology blog post - be warned. It's almost a political statement. It is here to let our PMs know I am not a supporter of the so-called Anti Smacking-bill.

Why? Because it terrorises parents, spreading fear that an idiot neighbour (which I don't think we have any) or badly informed citizen can just call the Emergency services number and report a parent with "hearsay", for something that every child do, such as a tantrum or a bed time crying.

A good example is this story on New Zealand Herald, "Toddler tantrum brings three cops knocking" and "No I don't abuse my kids but thanks for checking".

My daugther Isabella cries in the morning. She cries when she doesn't want to go to bed. She cries in the middle of the night to let us know she wants some milk. She can't speak yet, so she does one of the things she can to communicate with us. to catch our attention when we are not looking - because she's really good at baby sign language I must say, but it only works when we are looking at her, obviously.

I don't believe the anti-smacking bill will make child abuse in New Zealand go away. Parents who were accused of having killed children are not worried about what can happen to then if they smack a child - because they do worst things as we have seen in the latest stories of toddlers being taken to hospitals just to die a few days later.

That is not smacking. That's beating. That's abusing.

I told my wife one evening that I was thinking a police officer would knock in our door, and if that happen I would happily say "Great you are here officer. We need a baby sitter". Not really. We don't. And we don't need a nanny state that is worried with small things while people go around killing children.

Not moving to Telecom New Zealand after all

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Aug-2007 15:07

As much as I wanted to port my Vodafone number to Telecom New Zealand, I am not doing it... The only open-term option is a very expensive plan at almost $80/month. Anything else requires customers to sign up on a 12 month contract.

I don't have a contract with Vodafone, I am free to move to another operator. But the other operator is locking out at least one new customer by requiring a long term contract.

Contracts are bad. The operator lock you in, and you have no choice if their services are bad, or the coverage is not ideal, or if their plans are getting more expensive than the competition.

It's all great for the operator, bad for the consumer.

As I posted before, contracts also no only lock people in. They lock people trying to port mobile numbers out.

How dumb. Of both operators.

As for why I wanted to move out of Vodafone? I can't trust them. Too many stories behind stories. Personal trust is gone.

And the Vodafone service where it's most important to me - at home, is gone downhill. It used to be great, with five out five bars, full HSDPA speed. Since then the service has gone so bad it's hard to keep a voice call. Data is almost impossible around here.

So I am between bad services and lack of trust with one operator and dumb contract requirements with another.

We need a third decent operator.

I would like to say thanks to the folks at Telecom New Zealand who tried on my behalf, but couldn't go around stupid rules...

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.

PR Folks, pay attention

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Jul-2007 17:06

If you contact me to pitch your product, or viral campaign, at least take your time to know my name: it's Mauricio, not Dylan. It doesn't even sound the same.

That's for you, Motorola.

English Terror Alert

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Jul-2007 11:07

Found this today on Nic's blog:

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists themselves have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

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!

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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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