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Look at your tummy button or what's wrong with the blogosphere

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Mar-2008 08:07

Ed Bott's rant about Techmeme, echo chambers and more is a great read - in my case because I completely agree with this part:


Uh, no. I look at Techmeme once or twice a month, just to remind myself what a waste of time it is, and then I go read stuff that matters. I have more than 100 technology-related websites and RSS feeds in my reading list. Very few of them ever talk about whatever is hot on Techmeme right now. Which suits me just fine.

And please, don’t get me started on Digg.


I guess for some people Techmeme and Digg are a great way to be found. Evey day I remove a blog from my RSS reader - it hppens when I see a post that is just a repost of something that happened two weeks ago as something "new". I've seen people writing about "new" things that actually happened months before!



Motion Computing going?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Mar-2008 23:49

Interesting... Someone contacted me today to tell me Motion Computing was laying off 40 people. Did anyone hear anything about this?



Vodafone New Zealand huge telemetry project

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Mar-2008 14:41

I've heard a rumour that Vodafone New Zealand is prearing to start a huge telemetry project - with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of devices being deployed.

What's this all about?



We should ban exclusive phone deals for buildings

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Mar-2008 07:36

We here in New Zealand should make this move too: FCC Bans Exclusive Phone Deals for Apartments.

Of course some factors are different here, since we tend to live in houses more than apartments. But more and more people chose apartments near the central areas for "lifestyle". Students also tend to live in shared apartments.

And when it comes to chose their provider most are stuck with whatever the landlord or building administration decides is better for them - and in some cases those buildings even have PBX systems installed and the owners charge for calls and broadband.

Give consumers a chance to decide what's better for them - and more economical too.



Freeview|HD Frequently Asked Questions

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Mar-2008 12:26

This is a fact sheet I received today from Freeview. It is related to the upcoming launch of its terrestrial digital TV broadcast service with High Definition (Freeview|HD) on 2nd April 2008:


What is Digital TV?
In the past the pictures on television seen by the majority of New Zealanders were by virtue of analogue transmission.

In May 2007 Freeview launched a digital satellite service giving Kiwis’ the option of watching their favourite programmes in crystal clear digital quality, free- to-air, for the first time.

Within twelve months we are approaching 100,000 (or 6% of) NZ homes that have access to the Freeview satellite service.

Freeview|HD will launch in April and the evolution of New Zealand free-to-air broadcasting takes its next major next step forward.

Why is this happening?
The Government has announced that the current analogue service will eventually be switched off, probably in the next 4-7 years. The current policy is that a target date will be set once 60% of homes have digital television and a switch off date finalised once 75% of homes have digital TV. We are currently at approximately 47%.

Freeview’s aim is to ensure that world class digital technology is not only available and affordable but that it also offers a superior broadcasting experience for all New Zealanders. The goal is to make this a reality for Kiwis through choice, not compulsion.

When is the launch date for the Freeview|HD service?
Wednesday the 2nd of April 2008 is when the network will go-live and digital terrestrial receivers will be available from appliance retailers to access the service. The official launch event will be on the 14th April 2008.

What does Freeview|HD deliver in addition to the Freeview satellite offering?
Where the Freeview satellite service made bad reception a thing of the past by delivering crystal clear standard definition pictures, Freeview|HD will provide crystal clear digital pictures and sound on all channels with the added bonus of some of your favourite programmes broadcast in High Definition.

TVOne, TV2, and TV3 will broadcast in a high definition format. There will be no standard definition signal for these channels meaning no need to simulcast in SD and HD. TVOne and TV2 will broadcast in the 1280 * 720 progressive (720p) format, while TV3 will broadcast in the 1920 * 1080 interlace (1080i) format. Both provide stunning HD picture quality.

On day one not all programmes on these channels will be true HD (i.e. shot, edited, stored, and broadcast in HD). As such the balance of the schedules will be ‘up-converted’ (or up-scaled) from standard definition to the appropriate HD format.

What High Definition programming will there be?
As stated above the TVOne, TV2, and TV3 schedules will be ‘up-converted’ (or up-scaled) from standard definition to the appropriate HD format.

Initially, TV3 will offer about 12 hours a week in true HD.

TVNZ will broadcast this year’s Beijing Olympics in High Definition on TVOne.

We expect that each channel will look to increase the quantity of true HD programmes throughout 2008 and into 2009.
In addition, Freeview will provide an HD demonstration channel (channel 100) to showcase true HD from the Freeview|HD service launch.

What do I need?
Freeview does not sell digital receivers or carry out installations. It does, however, certify receivers to ensure quality and it also accredits retailers who wish to promote Freeview and sell compatible products.

Once you have an approved digital receiver you can access Freeview|HD from UHF aerial or for the Freeview satellite service a satellite dish.

What are your take-up projections?
Initial projections for the Freeview satellite service’s first year (at 30,000) were proven to be conservative as Kiwis’ quickly embraced the chance of receiving crystal clear digital quality pictures and sound for free. As stated above, within twelve months we are approaching 100,000 (or 6% of) NZ homes that have access to the Freeview satellite service.

With the launch of Freeview|HD we expect take-up of this service to be low initially and tracking upwards over time as the number of devices that contain a digital receiver increase and the channels accessible through Freeview grows.

Once again it is hard to predict how the take-up of Freeview|HD will unfold, but given the increasing number of homes with HD capable TV’s (approximately 300,000 homes) looking for the best digital quality experience, we are confident that we will see over 50,000 NZ homes with the Freeview|HD service by June 2009.

Why are you deploying two separate technologies (satellite and terrestrial)?
By having two platforms Freeview will provide 100% national coverage, different cost options, features and ultimately more choice for New Zealanders who wish to receive crystal clear television and radio services.

Both platforms have different strengths and merits and by combining the two we have been able to deliver a digital broadcasting service that uses the latest technology and places New Zealand right at the forefront of global broadcasting capability.

Most OECD countries have or are planning dual digital broadcast platforms to ensure ubiquitous access for its citizens. We are the first country to have a digital satellite and terrestrial, free-to-air, service available under one brand.

How long before Freeview’s broadcast infrastructure will need to be updated again?
The current analogue television network has been in service now for over 30 years. And whilst it is very hard to predict what the future will bring we have endeavoured to future proof the Freeview platforms as much as practically possible.

The Freeview|HD digital terrestrial platform’s HD capability, coupled with decisions by TVNZ (TVOne and TV2) and TV3 to broadcast on this platform in HD only, place New Zealand alongside the world’s leading HD platforms in terms of not just the technology deployed but also in providing our ‘most watched’ channels in HD.

Internationally, HD broadcasting has been led by pay-tv operators who have charged premium subscriptions for access to HD channels. Other than in the USA, Japan, and Australia, HD channels are almost exclusively pay-tv channels, not free-to-air.

What digital receiver products will Freeview provide?
Freeview does not manufacture or sell any digital reception hardware.

What we do is work with leading manufacturers and their NZ importer/distributor partners to produce technical specifications so that they are confident to make receivers for Freeview services.

To provide both manufacturers and consumer confidence in these products we do, however, provide a testing and certification service. As such Freeview has receivers rigorously tested to ensure that they are easy to install, automatically tune-in new channels when they launch, have the ability to access interactive TV content as it becomes available, work with the Freeview Guide (EPG), and as part of the warranty have technical support and service available throughout New Zealand. Overall certified products undergo and pass over 5,000 tests.

The digital satellite receiver and digital terrestrial receiver technical specifications are complete and available to any manufacturer, importer or distributor. Through 2008 we are likely to see the following products available from retailers:

• Digital Receivers – a stand alone digital receiver which connects to the satellite dish or UHF aerial and then to the television. A digital satellite receiver is different from a digital terrestrial receiver so it’s important to make sure it matches the chosen Freeview service.

• Integrated Digital Televisions (iDTV’s) – a TV with a built-in digital receiver. This means there’s no need to buy a separate digital receiver if you haven’t already purchased an HD Ready analogue TV. The iDTV must have the minimum requirements for displaying High Definition programmes.

• Gaming consoles – for example, PlayStation are developing an add-on digital receiver which will enable the PS3 to be used as a digital television recorder as well as a gaming console.

• PC cards / adaptors – turning your computer into a digital TV. For this you need to either install a digital TV PC card (this means getting inside the computer) or, if you have a modern PC with a fast USB-2 socket, you can plug in a digital TV USB adapter. You use the supplied software to tune in and watch FTA digital TV.

Next we will provide a Digital Television Recorder (DTR) specification. We are hoping to see Freeview approved DTRs in the market later in the year. They are essentially a smart digital receiver that records programmes to a hard drive. Programmes you want to record can be selected directly from the on-screen programme guide (EPG). Some have advanced features such as the ability to pause live TV, record multiple channels while simultaneously playing pre-recorded programmes, time shifting and series recording.

Which areas will be able to receive the new Freeview|HD service?
Freeview|HD is broadcast on a digital terrestrial network and received via a UHF aerial. It will be available in the Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, Hastings, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. That’s 75% of New Zealand homes.

Full coverage maps for each area are available at http://www.freeviewnz.tv/.

Outside of these areas, which equates to about 25% of homes, the Freeview satellite service provides free-to-air access to digital television.

How many channels does Freeview have and are there plans for any more in the next 12 months?
The number of channels that have joined the Freeview service currently sits at fifteen – thirteen television and two radio channels. We launched with five television and two radio channels on May 2nd 2007.

The currently available capacity of the satellite and terrestrial platforms is around twenty television channels. As such there is still room for more services and we are regularly approached by potential broadcasters looking to become part of the Freeview family.

Broadcasters can choose whether to broadcast their channels on satellite and/or terrestrial so the channel offering may differ between the two platforms. The Freeview|HD service will launch with the following channels: TV ONE, TV2, TV3, C4, MAORI TV, TVNZ6, TVNZ7, TVNZ SPORT EXTRA, PARLIAMENT TV, TV CENTRAL (Waikato & BoP only), RNZ NATIONAL, RNZ CONCERT.


UPDATE: I've posted more information about Freeview software and hardware.



More Linux servers defaced in 2007 than all Windows versions

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Mar-2008 09:05

According to Zone-H.org statistics, more Linux servers were defaced in 2007 than Windows machines - all versions of Windows.

And this comes from Slashdot, believe it or not.


"Zone-H have recently posted the statistical breakdown of the collected website defacements from the last few years. Surprisingly, in 2007 more Linux servers suffered a successful attack than all versions of Windows, combined. Similarly, more Apache installations were successfully attacked than all IIS versions combined.



Unbundling has begun: Orcon and Vodafone

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Mar-2008 12:23

And so it has... New Zealand ISP Orcon has announced its "unbundled" service called Orcon+, which means their equipment is installed on Telecom New Zealand's premises and their service is provided over the existing copper network that already touches your home (unless you are like me and have a cable modem service coupled with a Voice over IP phone line which means no POTS line here).

This also means that you no longer need a Telecom landline contract just to support your Internet connection via DSL.

Two of the Orcon@home+ plans tie ADSL2+ connection with up to 24 Mbps downloads (the catch is that you must be at most 3 Km from the local exchange) with some advanced telephony services, of course provided over their IP network.

You can have additional unlimited calls to up to 15 international destinations, for an additional NZ$10 per country.

With all those new speeds you would think that the company would offer a better starter allowance - the top plan comes with 25GB of traffic included - but additional data allowance can be purchased

Of course there's a (long) discussion on Geekzone about this new Orcon LLU service. Duncan Blair, Orcon Product Group Manager, managed to answer lots of questions our users posted so it is worth reading the thread.

A couple of things that occur to me though: their press release says additional data is $1 / GB. But you can sign up fort $40/ 50GB which is cheaper. But does it means I have to sign up for this cheaper data before I use it, and if not then it will not available after?

The next comment is regarding number portability. Apparently you can keep your current Telecom phone number when moving to this service if you are staying in the same address. But you cannot keep the number if moving - so very different from number portability and probably dependent on which exchanges their equipment was deployed.

The service is currently available in some areas around Auckland (Ponsonby, Mt Albert, Browns Bay, Ellerslie, and Glenfield), with others coming later during the year. Only Auckland listed though...

Not to be outdone, Vodafone New Zealand also issued a press release yesterday telling everyone they too are installing equipments on Telecom's exchanges. Currently they are targeting fifteen exchanges, with five already completed. Vodafone will be providing services that include VoIP, ADSL2+ and VDSL. They even promise up to 50 Mbps download speeds - if you are within 1 km from the exchange.

Vodafone says by the end of the year they will completed installation in all 42 exchanges around Auckland, plus other 20 exchanges in other centres around the country. They say this will be the biggest unbundled network around here.

In the meantime I hear Telecom New Zealand is working on its own VoIP service - but no public information for launch date is available yet - and the same from TelstraClear, although I also hear TelstraClear's plan is to offer VoIP services to business customers only.


UPDATE: Duncan has answered my questions about number portability and data caps.



Xtra users be prepared for more e-mail troubles

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Mar-2008 09:31

If you are a Telecom New Zealand's Xtra customer and suffered through the Yahoo!Xtra Bubble migration, it might be good to brace yourself - again.

The word in our Geekzone forums is that Xtra is changing how it handles e-mail, again. And this page confirms those changes from 18 March.

Hoiw does this change affect you? If you are using Xtra for your e-mails and always send e-mails from an address that ends on @xtra.co.nz then nothing changes.

If you are using Xtra to send e-mails with address that end in something different thn @xtra.co.nz then keep reading.

Whenever someone sends an e-mail, a SMTP server is used to relay the message to other servers for distribution.

In most cases, ISPs allow access to their SMTP servers to users on their own network, or to authenticated users if coming for other networks.

But SMTP servers do not require the "FROM" field in the message to be exactly the user's e-mail address.

This means that once a user successfully authenticate with the SMTP server it is possible to send e-mails as someone else. And this can be a problem. People can just authenticate to a SMTP server and impersonate someone else. Or use it for spam purposes.

To eliminate ths problem Xtra has decided (or was it Yahoo! who decided this?) that a "validation" is required to confirm that the e-mail address you are using to send a message is actually yours.



It's simple to do it, just follow these instructions.

Even though it's simple to do it, I can imagine a lot of people will be caught on this. I just hope their help desk this time is preared to provide people with the correct answers.



Who needs security - or is mobitv burying their heads in the sand?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Mar-2008 09:45

It looks like mobitv didn't see this one coming - or did they just bury their heads in the sand?

The service streams live TV to mobile devices (no need to visit the site if you are not in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru or Dominican Replublic) and being the provider of such a service you would think they have a secure platform for content delivery.

Or not... Someone posted on HowardForums detailed instructions on to access the service and a direct link to a single file that allows acess to the entire service. The file in question (qtv.mobitv.com/sprintTVlive.mcd) seems now to have been removed, but until this whole thing started it was available to anyone to access it - no authentication, no encryption, nothing.

Basically the trick was to download the file, and using your browser open the local version to then have access to many of the live TV streams offered by Sprint to their customers.

The folks at mobitv didn't like that someone posted detailed instructions on HowardForums about this and sent out a notice. They actually contacted the hosting provider to have the HowardForums taken down.

What's wrong here? First, I agree detailed instructions on how to go around getting free services is a bit too much.

But on the other hand mobitv created a content delivery platfotm that would not guarantee access to members only, apparently lacking authentication, encryption and possibly more.

C'mon guys, sharpen up. If you create a service, make it right. Don't plan on putting the locks after the doors are wide open. You should have done this before. You have your system fixed, Be sure to create better system next time.

As for HowardForums, leave the forum alone. For what I read it's wasn't even posted there first, because the poster says this was found in another Sprint forum somewhere else on the Internet.



Should telcos store your SMS for a (possible) investigation?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Mar-2008 09:34

The New Zealand government is proposing a change in laws that would see telcos being required to store SMS that go through their networks, to facilitate police investigations if needed.

This is wrong, very wrong, and David Farrar says it why:


It is one thing to have a law which requires telcos to record the content of text messages *after they receive a search warrant targetted at a particular individual. But this is about having the telcos store every single text message we send or receive, so it can then be accessed.

The precedent this would set is that ISPs should also keep a copy of every e-mail message you ever send or receive, in case the Police should ever want it.  And then how about also requiring them to keep track of every website you have ever visited.

Telcos and ISPs should co-operate with the Police *after* a warrant has been served requiring interception or recording of data which a Judge/JP has authorised as necessary for a criminal investigation. But that is very different to having them forced to store personal communications on every NZer, so that law enforcement authorities can access them at some later date if they wish. Why not also have the teclso [sic] record every voice call, just in case they are also needed?


The New Zealand government should not propose this, and this should not be allowed.



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!

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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.

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