My window to the world

The 2008 Democratic National Convention gets a little help from New Zealand company

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Mar-2008 22:40

I have been holding this for a while, since I was told about it by SilverStripe's Sigurd Magnusson during the Kiwi Foo Camp - I was keen to write about it back then but he asked me to hold a bit.

Now it's official and I can tell: the Open Source content management system (CMS) SilverStripe, developed here in Wellington, was selected by the U.S. Democratic Party as the platform for its pre-election conference, the Democratic National Convention 2008.

Well done guys, congratulations on this win.

Broadband connections take over dialup in New Zealand. ISPs should wake up about now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Mar-2008 15:25

Today Statistics New Zealand released some interesting information, showing that for the first time broadband connections passed dialup in numbers in this country.

The number of broadband subscribers in the six months to September 2007 overtook the number of dial-up subscribers for the first time ever, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Broadband subscribers continued to increase – up 14.4 percent in the six months to September 2007, to reach 829,300. However, this growth rate has slowed from an increase of 28.6 percent in September 2006 and 18.5 percent in March 2007. Subscribers with dial-up connection fell 8.6 percent from March 2007, down to 675,800.

The number of broadband subscribers grew from 9 per 100 inhabitants to 19.6 per 100 inhabitants in the two years ended September 2007, while the number of dial-up subscribers per 100 inhabitants fell from 21.2 to 15.9. Of the additional 10.6 broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants, half switched from dial-up and the remaining half were new subscribers.

There was a 47 percent increase in the number of Internet service providers reporting that the cost of international bandwidth had been a barrier to growth in the past two years.

Good news. I understand those ISPs who complained of the cost of international bandwitdth as a barrier are right in some points.

But they also have to understand that broadband is not going back, and connections are only likely to go up in numbers. So there's not much they can do about it, except better capacity planning (currently lacking in almost every New Zealand ISP it seems) and apply more realistic prices to their plans.

In the last two years we've seen many examples of ISPs (Xtra, Woosh, Slingshot) who offered "unlimited" broadband plans, only to later realise people do take "unlimited" seriously. Some of these ISPs closed the plans to new customers, applied rate shapping technologies to limit the utilisation ("unlimited"?) or simply denied anything was happening, while constraining resources until users had to cancel their accounts.

It is time for ISPs to stop doing this and be realistic about the services people expect from them.

Samsung worldwide warranty is not...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Mar-2008 14:25

A friend of mine spent some hard earned cash buying a Samsung Q1 UMPC. He bought it in th U.S., with a standard worldwide warranty.

The only problem is that Samsung doesn't seem to understand "worldwide" more than some ISPs understand "unlimited".

The device has developed a (now) well known problem which causes the touchcreen to stop working around the edges. This is a manufacturing fault that requires replacing the LCD/touchscreen or the device.

So he contacted the support at Samsung New Zealand, who flatly rejected the request saying Samsung New Zealand can't service the worldwide warranty, suggesting he should send the unit to the U.S.

He visited the Samsung U.S. webiste, which apparently allows you to lodge worldwide warranty claims - except that its "worldwide" is only the 50 U.S. states.

He then contacted an Australian reseller, who can only service the units they sell themselves.

How is that for a "bait and switch", Samsung?

Another government mandated system update: IRD numbers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Mar-2008 12:02

If you live in New Zealand or your company works in New Zealand then you problaby have an IRD Number. This is the unique identifier for all things related to tax in this country.

Today I got some information from the IRD telling me about a change coming in May 2008: the department is going to start issuing nine-digit IRD numbers.

This means you need to make sure your systems can actually handle these new numbers. And May is just a couple of months away. This is the information:

Inland Revenue customers applying for a new IRD number this year may find that it has an extra digit.

The first nine-digit IRD number is expected to be issued in May. All current eight-digit numbers remain unchanged.

Colin MacDonald, Deputy Commissioner Business Development and Systems, said the extended number range is needed to cater for growth.

"Inland Revenue issues around 250,000 IRD numbers a year. No IRD number is ever re-used, and we need to extend the number range to keep up with population and business expansion,'' he said.

The first eight-digit IRD number in New Zealand was issued in 1975, and there are currently 12 million numbers in circulation.

All Inland Revenue forms have been updated to show nine boxes for the IRD and GST numbers.  If a customer with an eight-digit number needs to fill in a form with nine boxes, the first box should be left blank.

Inland Revenue has worked with software developers, payroll providers, and financial institutions to ensure their products can accommodate both eight and nine-digit numbers.

Small business owners in the process of choosing payroll software should check that it is nine-digit compliant before purchase. Many international 'off-the-shelf' payroll software products are already set up to accommodate longer numbers.

There is no change to GST invoicing requirements. Customers will still be required to display their GST number on the invoice, whether it is eight or nine-digits.

Computerworld Excellence Awards 2008 open

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Feb-2008 16:14

Are you involved in the New Zealand IT landscape? I just got a notification that the Computerworld Excellence Awards 2008 is now open for entries.

According to the e-mail, the Computerworld Excellence Awards is "calling for entries from ICT professionals who can demonstrate an outstanding application of technology".

The Computerworld Excellence Awards website lists these categories:

  • CIO of the Year
  • ICT Educator of the Year
  • Young ICT Talent
  • Excellence in the Use of ICT for Customer Service
  • Excellence in the Use of ICT in Government
  • Excellence in the Use of ICT in Health
  • Excellence in Infrastructure Innovation
  • Excellence in the Use of ICT in an SME
  • Best Mobile, Wireless or Telecommunication Solution
  • Best Sustainable ICT Project
  • Innovative Use of ICT
  • Most Successful Project Implementation
  • Overall Excellence in the Use of ICT

  • This year Computerworld has introduced some new awards, including for the ICT Educator of the Year, Excellence in Infrastructure Innovation and Best Sustainable ICT Project. I would like to see something for technology startups as well - although some could claim "Innovative Use of ICT" could fit the category.

    Three of these are individual awards (ICT Educator of the Year, Young ICT Talent and CIO of the Year) and the others are team awards.

    Final submissions due by Friday 11 April.

    VMWare on a roll

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Feb-2008 12:12

    VMWare is on a roll today... I just read press releases of VMWare software being distribued with HP and Dell servers, plus some EMC solutions for virtualised storage.

    VMware and HP today announced VMware's ultra-thin hypervisor software, VMware ESX 3i, is expected to be broadly integrated and available beginning March 31, 2008, on 10 models of HP ProLiant servers. The joint offering helps customers adopt virtualization with greater speed and simplicity. Virtualization helps companies share and pool technology resources to better optimize their datacenters, resulting in greater flexibility to meet business demands and business pressures to reduced costs.

    Dell will begin the process of putting VMware ESX 3i hypervisor across all virtualization-certified Dell PowerEdge servers starting in early April. Customers will be able to purchase with a single click, easing virtualization planning, deployments and management. More information is available at

    Leveraging its extensive applications expertise, EMC has defined optimized application and storage solution configurations, assured interoperability and fully documented complete deployment best practices for Microsoft SQL Server 2005, Microsoft Exchange 2007, Oracle 10g and 11g, and SAP environments to provide quick and simplified implementation in advanced VMware infrastructures. These application solutions have been tested and documented at broad workloads in VMware Infrastructure 3.5 environments to enable deployments that meet customer expectations for application-level performance, backup and recovery, remote replication, high availability and manageability. As a result, joint EMC and VMware customers can more rapidly achieve the cost-reduction and flexibility of VMware environments in less time and with less effort.

    When I attended the Symantec Vision event in Sydney (Australia) last year I asked one of the top Symantec executives there about Microsoft's virtualization solution - at the time only Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 was available and Windows Server 2008 with hypervisor was just a dream in the future - and why it wasn't represented at all during the event. The reply was short but conveyed a clear message: "Microsoft's virtualization is not ready for prime time".

    Meanwhile VMWare is rolling out more and more solutions - with more flexibility.

    Virtualization is a new area in computing, still. It may take a few years before more companies jump on this, but it will happen.

    ICONZ to launch speedy hosting service

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Feb-2008 10:20

    I am currently testing a service with our current colocation and hosting provider, ICONZ. This is not a consumer Internet access service, rather a hosting product.

    I am not going much into what kind of service it is (this will be a blog post of its own later this week) but today I ran a speedtest on the server we have there and got these results:

    It looks good so far.

    New Zealand at CeBIT Blog

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Feb-2008 09:29

    I was checking my RSS feeds today and came across the New Zealand at CeBIT 2008 blog.

    It's worth a read if you are interested to know what kiwi technology companies are doing overseas in terms of exhibits - you will find out it's very different from what we have seen in The Flight of Conchords...

    The blog links to a list of New Zealand companies participating in this year's expo, plus individual blog posts about the technology, how to reach other markets, etc.

    Adobe AIR launch: looking for applications?

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Feb-2008 09:08

    I am just back from visiting the Adobe AIR Marketplace, where you will find feature applications developed with the new Adobe AIR released yesterday to much noise.

    Good luck finding something that works today though.

    Most of the applications there will return an error during installation. They all seem to not like AIR 1.0 and work only with the AIR beta versions.

    I was interested in a couple of Twitter clients, the Google Analytics client, the Meebo client... But only the Google Analytics application would actually work - a very good and clean user interface and no it's not a Google product but a third party creation.

    It would be nice if Adobe had worked with these developers to at least have the featured applications updated by launch time.

    And how come the Adobe's own Adobe Media Player is not even listed in the marketplace? It was a cool application while in beta. And even its own software won't run on AIR 1.0.

    Actually it would be nicer if Adobe had a link to Adobe AIR on its frontpage with their other products too:

    I am not too pessimistic about Adobe AIR though. It's got the potential to be a winner, like Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash. Microsoft Silverlight may be getting behind now (was it ever ahead?)...

    Backup your stuff - this includes you Telecom New Zealand

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Feb-2008 19:23

    This is juicy - might be in the mainstream media sometime soon... A fault at Telecom's Pukekohe exchange caused 10,000 phones to stop working. This included interruption to emergency calls, etc.

    It appears this is one of the NEAX telephone exchanges still in use (for our North American readers it would be the "CO").

    Now comes the juicy bit of this story... The rumours are that Telecom restored a backup and things started falling down. People start receiving calls intended to someone else, and calls being charged to the wrong person.

    Why? It looks like the backup routine wasn't working and the data restored goes back to 2005.

    Any changes since then were lost and Telecom is reapplying transaction files (do they keep three years of transaction files?).

    I have e-mailed Telecom's press contact people to find out more about this rumour.

    Any good IT administrator knows to test backup and restore routines at regular intervals and to run restores to test the reliability of its procedures.

    What really happened there Telecom?

    UPDATE: Here is what happened according to the Telecom spokesperson:

    As reported, a complex software fault began causing problems for fixed line phone services in the Pukekohe area on Thursday evening.

    Rather than risk a recurrence of the suspected software fault, Telecom has used a software file from 2005 to restore service as quickly as possible to the greatest number of customers.

    While this meant that most customers in the area were returned to service on Friday afternoon, those customers whose details had changed since early 2005 would not have had their dial tone restored (so they could make outgoing calls) or they could be receiving calls intended for a different phone number.

    Telecom has been progressively cross-referencing data to restore full service for these customers over the weekend and this is expected to be completed by tomorrow (Monday). Telecom's priority has been to restore the ability to make outgoing calls for customers, followed by incoming calls.

    Services such as call minder and voice messaging will be restored once this work has been completed.

    Telecom is able to identify which phone lines have been misdirected as a result of this fault and, as per standard practice, customers will not be charged for any calls not made by them.

    If customers in the area have not already logged a fault with their service provider and are still experiencing problems on Monday they should contact their service provider.

    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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