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Your Money Tax at Work (TM)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jun-2006 12:06

This is the kind of headline that makes you think twice before jumping into action to help victims of natural disaters:

[US]$200 bottle of champagne from Hooters and [US]$300 worth of "Girls Gone Wild" videos were among items bought with debit cards handed out by FEMA to help hurricane victims, auditors probing [US]$1 billion in potential waste and fraud have found.

The cards -- given to people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita -- also bought diamond jewelry and a vacation in the Dominican Republic, according to the Government Accountability Office audit.


More and full (gory) details at CNN.com's "FEMA hurricane cards bought jewelry, erotica".

We arranged with i-mate to have a Windows Mobile Smartphone sent to us for an on-line auction, with full proceedings going to the US Red Cross. I know, this is not the same, but it makes you think about how governments spend the money they collect from you through taxes.

What's the New Zealand equivalent to this?

The New Zealand government is currently sitting on a US$8.5 billion surplus. Are we paying too much tax?



Isabella at 8 weeks

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jun-2006 18:14

Isabella Maria, the first picture, 9 April:


And 8 weeks later, the first smile captured:







Astoria @ Wednesday

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jun-2006 17:55

Last night I missed the Geekzone Weekly Chat because I had to go out for something else (yes, we geeks do have a life!) and while out in the cold I took a couple of pictures of Astoria, before closing.



Some of you know I visit Astoria, Midland Park in Wellington, every Wednesday, from about 1pm. Since I work from home it's good to come to town and have time to meet some people face to face.

Both Microsoft and Vodafone are located on this building, and for being central is easy for other people to come and join me for lunch or coffee. Astoria has both Cafenet and Telecom NZ Hostpost Wi-Fi services, so I can bring my Tablet PC and work in between meetings.

They make one of the best coffee in town, perhaps not as good as Cafe L'affare, but I don't go there often because is out of the way for other people meeting me. Cafe L'Affare is very good for brunches on Saturday, but they are not open on Sunday. Next to Cafe L'Affare there's the Brooklyn Bakery, which is very child friendly (which is something we need now).

Back to Astoria, they also make one of the best steaks around, if you want them at lunch time.

If you are in town on any Wednesday you can either go there directly or simply contact me or post a comment to confirm I will be there.







Follow the FIFA World Cup 2006 with Microsoft Soccer Scoreboard

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jun-2006 10:16

This is such a cool application (and free): the Microsoft Soccer Scoreboard. You can follow your home team (or the one you support) around the FIFA World Cup 2006, and get all the results automatically. It runs on Windows XP PCs.

It will also list the schedule, previous results, and act as a RSS feed reader, with lots of RSS feeds to choose from with updates! The most important feature is that matches are listed in your own local timezone, not the German time :)

Microsoft Soccer Scoreboard FIFA World Cup 2006

The only problem I see is that it will not minimise to the system tray. But we can live with that, if it's to get all the updates on this World Cup...



Geekzone moving house

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-May-2006 21:20

I have been pretty quiet in the Geekzone front in the last three days. We have just moved houses amd I have not had the chance to work during this time. Moving houses and having a two week old baby is not easy!

I really have to say thanks to a few friends who showed up (or offered help). First of all Hadley, who came from Taupo with his wife Heather, to help us. She was great, helping clean the new house, and driving back by herself on Sunday evening. Hadley stayed here until Monday evening, helping coordinate the movers in the old house, assembling desks, bed, moving things, arranging food when me and my wife were too tired to do something, then flying back home.

Also helping us we had Peter and Letizia, who spent Saturday and Sunday packing for us. And Sue Mitchell who showed up on Sunday and worked through the kitchen, packing glasses, plates, etc.

Darryl offered to help, but we had enough people around.

Big thanks to all! Next is waiting for TelstraClear to show up, connect the cable modem and my e-mail server, desktop, wireless network and other infrastrucutre will be available, so I can come back in full force.



Welcome Isabella Maria

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Apr-2006 07:51

On a very personal note, and as posted on the Geekzone forums (It is a girl!), our baby Isabella Maria was born this Sunday 9 April, early at 7:31am.

She arrived a couple of days earlier (great girl, already beating the weekday rush hours!), and I am pretty sure she will love coming to the Wednesday coffee talks at Astoria when she's a bit older (and I mean probably just a couple of months old).

She was 3.72Kg (8.3 pounds) and was great to see her, after all these months of scans and bet on hair colour (dark like the father, or blonde like mum).


All is going well, and I imagine she will someday post on Geekzone Cool.



Cheers to Tim Haines

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Apr-2006 11:09

Last month (April 2006), Tim Haines moved to Wellington. He is heavily involved in the .Net community in New Zealand, and we had exchanged some e-mails before.

After his move here we met for lunch one day, with other bloggers and .Net developers and finally got to meet each other in person. We might even make this a monthly thing to do in the Capital (I will probably start organising this, and if you want to join us drop a comment below).

We met in another opportunity, one Wednesday just before a .Net User Group meeting. As you probably know, every Wednesday I come to Cafe Astoria and work from there, meeting people, discussing things with Darryl, Peter Torr Smith, Antonios and sometimes Vodafone folks (Microsoft and Vodafone are located on the building above Cafe Astoria). Don't feel bad Telecom, I sometimes walk to your side of town too, your guys know it.

The good news is that Tim Haines is now a Microsoft MVP (ASP .Net) awardee. Congratulations Tim, and thanks for mentioning us on your blog.

By the way, I will probably slow down the Wednesday things in town for the next two or three weeks. Our first baby is due this Tuesday (11 April), so I will be a bit busy on the first two weeks. Then we are shiftting homes, and I will be busy on the other week. I will probably be back to the normal programme late May.





Microsoft MVP (Mobile Devices) for another year

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Apr-2006 07:17

I have just received the e-mail with the confirmation of my Microsoft MVP Award (Mobile Devices).
Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) are recognized, credible, and accessible individuals with expertise in one or more Microsoft products who actively participate in online and offline communities to share their knowledge and expertise with other Microsoft customers.
 
Customers want an enriched pool of knowledge and real-life experience to tap for advice and feedback. MVPs are helping to satisfy this need by independently enabling customers in both online and offline technical communities. Customer feedback is vital to product development and R&D. The MVPs represent an important part of this feedback loop by providing another link for Microsoft to listen to the customer.

The Most Valuable Professional Program is the way that Microsoft formally acknowledges the accomplishments of these individuals for their contributions to community. It is focused on fostering a vibrant global community where Microsoft and customers learn about each other through valued ongoing relationships.

The MVP Program, in existence for over eleven years, is represented by over 2,600 MVPs in 81 countries."
This is an annual award, with our activities with communities being evaluated every 12 months. I have received this in the 2004-2005, 2005-2006 periods, and again for 2006-2007. Very cool!

There are some benefits in the program, but a lot of the things are covered by a NDA. One of the most important benefits (besides the access to a great group of other MVPs, product developers, product managers) is the MVP Summit, where all Microsoft MVPs are invited to a conference in Seattle.

In my previous MVP Summit (October 2005) we had a keynote from Steve Balmer's. We have the confirmation that Bill Gates will be keynote speaker for the next MVP Summit (March 2007). During the last MVP Summit we had about 2000 MVPs from all over the world meeting in Seattle (actually a bit of a logistics nightmare), with some program wide sessions, and sessions specifically related to the product group we have the award.

If you are in Wellington, look for the information on how to join the local Windows Mobile User Group. Or check through Geekzone for news about our meetings.



Fight the monster!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Mar-2006 23:41

For you geeks living in New Zealand this is the official website for the Fight the Monster campaign currently screening on TV.

This is a campaign to help children with cancer. With each donation a new flower will grow, with your name. You can go back to the site to see how the frightening scenario changes, and help the little girl.

Child Cance foundation: fight the monster

Even if you are not in New Zealand, you can still donate to the Child Cancer Foundation by visiting the Fight the Monster website. So, what you all waiting for?



Voltaire

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Mar-2006 23:14

Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet):

"To hold a pen is to be at war."

"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers."

"Common sense is not so common."

"A witty saying proves nothing."

"It is hard to free fools from the chains they revere."

"Prejudices are what fools use for reason."

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."





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'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 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.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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