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Vodafone NZ SIM locking

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-May-2008 09:47

Yesterday I got a tip that Vodafone NZ started SIM locking their handsets.

Vodafone had never locked their handsets in New Zealand, but I guess the idea of having competition from NZ Communications and Telecom New Zealand coming later this year is something that frighten them.

I agree that SIM locking handsets could be a smart move, if the operator provided the phones with significant discounts. There's no confirmation that Vodafone NZ will discount locked handsets.

Operator in Europe offer handsets at very low price when locked. Or even free.

As it happens, currently being the only GSM operator in the country, sell their handsets at very nice prices (for them), with no subsidy at all, regardless of contracts being signed or not.

In other countries SIM lock is used a lot - even though in the U.S. it is legal for users to unlock the handsets at any moment.

In general we expect an unlock code to be issued at the end of a contract, or if the customer pays a fee.

There's a discussion going on Geekzone now about this, and as it stands there's isnt any official information from the company. Total silence.

We have no idea if Telecom NZ or NZ Communications will SIM lock their handsets. But we are still months away of seeing their networks commercially available - Telecom NZ is said to launch their GSM network in November 2008, meaning Vodafone NZ has started locking their customers six months ahead of the competition.

The good old days of "no contracts, no locked phones" are gone from this country.

UPDATE: This is now confirmed.



The 31 Days of the Dragon badge

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Apr-2008 15:09

Ok, here is our badge for the 31 Days of the Dragon competition:

31 Days of the Dragon

You will see it in our Geekzone frontpage and our Geekzone forums pages. If you click it you will go to the hub site with links to all participating websites - and remember we will be running our competition from 29th May through 5th June - this is the period you will be able to enter the competition on Geekzone to win one of the 31 HP HDX Dragon packages.



The 31 Days of the Dragon contest series: where to enter to win one of 31 HP HDX Dragon Entertainment laptop

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Apr-2008 08:45

The 31 Days of the Dragon is a promotion between 31 participating web sites (including our own Geekzone), with the sponsorship of HP.

HP is working with those websites offering 31 prize packages - one a day for 31 days during a period from 09 May through 08 June 2008.

Each participating website will have its own competition with its own prize, each a HP HDX Dragon Entertainment Notebook loaded with features and software.

The HP HDX Dragon comes with Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit) and is powered by an Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor X9000 (2.80GHz, 6MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB). Other features include 20.1" diagonal WUXGA High-Definition HP Ultra Brightview Widescreen (1920x1200) 1080p, 4GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm), 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS, HP Imprint Finish (Dragon) + Fingerprint Reader + Webcam + Microphone, Intel PRO/Wireless 4965AGN Network Connection and Bluetooth, 500GB 5400RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive (250GB x 2), Blu-Ray ROM with SuperMulti DVD+/-R/RW Double Layer, Integrated HP HDTV Hybrid TV Tuner and 4 Altec Lansing speakers with HP Triple Bass Reflex subwoofer, and 9 Cell Lithium Ion Battery.

The entertainment notebooks will come with these software titles: Microsoft Office, Corel PaintShop Pro X2, Corel Painter Essentials, Corel Ulead Video Studio Plus  11.5, Symantec Norton Internet Security.

For the gamers in us the winners will receive the following games: Viva Piñata,Microsoft Flight Sim, Microsoft Flight Sim Expansion Pack, Gears of War.

And since this is an entertainment beast, you will enjoy the following Blu Ray movies out of the box: Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End.

The total retail value of each of these prizes would be over US$5,000 - and there are 31 to be won!

Each of the following websites will run a seven day contest between the following dates:

02 May - 09 May http://www.absolutevista.com/
03 May - 10 May http://www.arstechnica.com/
04 May - 11 May http://www.osnn.net/
05 May - 12 May http://www.jkontherun.com/
06 May - 13 May http://digitalmediaphile.wordpress.com
07 May - 14 May http://www.bostonpocketpc.com/
08 May - 15 May http://www.the-gadgeteer.com 
09 May - 16 May http://thedigitallifestyle.com/
10 May - 17 May http://www.digitalhomethoughts.com/
11 May - 18 May http://www.windows-now.com/
12 May - 19 May http://www.windowsconnected.com/
13 May - 20 May http://www.geekstogo.com/
14 May - 21 May http://bink.nu/
15 May - 22 May http://www.mediablab.com/
16 May - 23 May http://www.last100.com/
17 May - 24 May http://www.labnol.org/ 
18 May - 25 May http://www.notebooks.com/
19 May - 26 May http://www.slashdotreview.com/
20 May - 27 May http://www.neowin.net/
21 May - 28 May http://www.geek.com/
22 May - 29 Mau http://www.lockergnome.com/
23 May - 30 May http://www.planetx64.com/
24 May - 31 May http://www.thegreenbutton.com/
25 May - 01 Jun http://www.istartedsomething.com/
26 May - 02 Jun http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/
27 May - 03 Jun http://www.hardwaregeeks.com/
28 May - 04 Jun http://www.geeknewscentral.com/
29 May - 05 Jun http://www.geekzone.co.nz/
30 May - 06 Jun http://www.thetabletpc.net/
31 May - 07 Jun http://www.gearlive.com/
01 Jun - 08 Jun http://www.gottabemobile.com/

Note that each will run their own competition, so there will be different rules for each site. You should visit each site and look for more information there. If there is no competition information live yet, then please visit the sites again later between those dates in the table.

You can see this same information and any updates on The 31 Days of the Dragon. You will also find an OPML file and links to RSS feeds from all thoe sites.

We will have our competition page on Geekzone with the appropriate instructions. Our plan is to run a month long competition page so you have more time to enter it. Stay tuned - subscribe to our RSS feed so that you don't miss this opportunity, or keep visiting Geekzone.

This competition comes thanks to HP and BuzzCorps.



New VFX advanced VoIP services

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Apr-2008 12:40

I have just posted in our Geekzone forums about the upcoming VFX advanced VoIP services. Worth a look if you are considering porting from your current telecommunications provider to this VoIP service, like I did late in 2007.

We haven't had copper here at home for some time now, all coming down through the most excellent TelstraClear cable modem service (except that they want to charge a fortune for a 25 Mbps service!) - and then we ported our phone line to WorldxChange VFX so we do everything over the Internet here.



Want Safari? No thanks...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Apr-2008 10:55

A nice FAIL there:



And by the way, no I only have QuickTime installed. Why Apple thinks it's cool to offer me Safari or iTunes is beyond me.

As Chaks noted before, reporting some of his friends' reaction to "Safari":


...let me meet some of my friends here and ask them about this. These people use iPod and iTunes either in XP or Vista, and, these users aren't tech savvy or know much about Computers. They just want their PC or Mac or whatever, to work.

So, here is what some of my friends told,

1) Some thought Safari "was something" that iTunes requires
2) Some thought iTunes browser "was upgraded" to Safari
3) Some didnt even knew that something called "Safari" had been installed



The Intel Hell

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Apr-2008 09:01

On a not so shameless copycat of "Dell Hell", I introduce "Intel Hell". This is how I call when you contact Intel's customer support, reports a problem (1, 2) that only occurs on their Intel 945GM chipset - and they tell to contact the manufacturer.

You then point out to the support person that this problem is occurring across a series of different boards from a variety of manufacturers, so it would be better if Intel could update their reference drivers (which work well and even include Windows Vista EVR support). And they reply with this:


Thank you for contacting Intel(R) Technical Support.

We appreciate your feedback on this matter. We will make sure your comment reaches the proper department for future consideration.

Thank you for taking the time to communicate this issue to us.


This reply basically it means "sorry, I don't think we will be doing anything, and if this problem really annoys you then just get another computer with a decent chipset. Preferably not one of ours".

Shame on you Intel, leaving your customers behind like this...




IT Rockstar finale: voting starts tomorrow

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Apr-2008 15:07

The folks at 920 Career agents have invited me to attend the IT Rockstar finale, happening in Wellington. 21st May. 

Public voting for the top IT professional opens tomorrow 23rd April and goes on for two weeks. The top prize is a $10,000 all expenses paid trip to attend an IT conference - the winner chooses it!

Judges are Jon MacDonald (CEO Trade Me), Marie-Claire Andrews (NZ Business Development Manager at PlanHQ, GM at AngelHQ), Suri Bartlett (Managing Director, Tenzing Limited Management & Technology Consultants).

The folks at 920 sponsored the Guitar Hero games in prize pool at our Geekzone Pizza evening in Wellington and Auckland.



Invites for Google Developer Day 2008 Australia

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Apr-2008 15:02

I have a couple of invites for Google Developer 2008 Australia and I can send the codes out to you - just reply here if you want one.


Google Developer Day 2008 will focus on pushing the boundaries of web applications using Google developer technologies. Google engineers and web development leaders will lead you through one full day of in-depth breakout sessions on the latest Google technologies and hands-on codelabs.


Google Developer Day 2008 is also about bringing bright developers together to share ideas. There is plenty of time to meet other developers, discuss ideas, and share what you've been working on.



The event happens in Sydney, 18th June 2008. If you can't make it please don't ask for the invite code.



Freeview HD: any HDMI cable will work

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Apr-2008 13:05

Here is something for you that are buying or planning to buy a Freeview HD box: any HDMI cable will work and provide you with High Definition if your TV set supports it.

Simply put, some retailers are known to push higher priced HDMI cables claiming those are the only ones that can provide true HD. This is known as HDMI scam. The most recent case I can think is Rod buying two $400 HDMI cables... Yes, really.

That's just wrong. Whatever the $400 HDMI cable does it can be done with a $50 HDMI cable. It is just a bitstream.

The HDMI standard provides for two types of HDMI cable: Standard and High Speed. HDMI Standard cables are good for 1080i, which is the HD you get from TV3 for example. You don't need anything else. You don't need the "High Speed" cable, regardless of what the sales person tells you.

There are some other issues. For example Freeview sells a box so people can watch HD - why don't they provide the HDMI cable in the box then?



Geekzone Pizza evening update

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Apr-2008 12:43

The Geekzone Pizza evening in Wellington is happening tomorrow. It looks like a full house event (sorry, we can't accept more registrations as the venue is full!) and the list of sponsors and prizes is now huge (and attractive). Check it out:


Sponsors:

Pizza: WorldxChange is paying for the pizza.

Drinks: Google and 3Bit are sponsoring the drinks.

Internet: APT will be providing Internet access through its AnyData RevA/WiFi router connected to the Telecom New Zealand network.


Prize pool:

920 Career Agents are bringing Guitar Hero Legends of Rock 3 (game and guitar controller) for PS3 and Xbox 360 (check their IT Rock Star promo).

ASUS is coming to the sponsors list with an ASUS Eee PC (Windows version).

BDT is giving us some Altec Lansing headsets (through the help of QuayCorp).

Campbell Software has given us a Zyzel P2000w V2 WiFi SIP Phone (through the help of QuayCorp).

Dell is participating with a Dell Photo Printer 948 printer/fax/copier/wireless.

Duo is providing us with some swag to giveaway.

Google provided a box full of swag to giveaway.

HP is providing a 120GB 5400RPM HP Personal Media Drive (through the help of QuayCorp).

Linksys is giving us a Linksys WAG160N (through the help of WorldxChange).

Microsoft provided some copies of its software to giveaway at the event.

Novell will be bringing some swag and software to the evening.

Philips is providing a Bluetooth stereo headset for our prize pool.

QuayCorp will have a couple of people attending and are bringing a Viewsonic vx2235wm widescreen monitor, a HP Deskjet F4185 printer to the prize draw.

Telecom New Zealand is participating with a couple of their mobile broadband express cards as prizes.

Vodafone New Zealand is providing us with an Express Card Mobile Connect Card (HSDPA, 3G) and a Blackberry Curve (through the help of QuayCorp).


We are planning to have a live stream if you can't make it this time.

I am thinking of doing a Geekzone Pizza evening in Auckland sometime in late May when I will be staying a couple of days in town. More details will be posted in our forums when we close the Wellington event. I also received an e-mail from a friend who has offered his help in organising a similar one for the South Island.

There is still time for your company to contact me and join this list - or to sponsor the Auckland event.



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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