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Geekzone planned outage

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jan-2008 20:29

Geekzone will be down to allow us to have an additional HDD and a CD/DVD drive replacement installed. This means all forums, blogs, and the news section.

The service will be unavailable Tuesday, 29 January 2008 from 11am for 30 minutes. Check this link for other timezones.

The new HDD will allow us to create a mirror and increase the site availability in case of a drive failure.

Internet peering and local content cost

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jan-2008 12:28

I was going through the InternetNZ mailing list today and noticed a couple of comments submited to the Internet Peering report from December 2007.

This is the Executive Summary from this report:

2. Executive Summary
2.1. Findings and Investigations

2.1.1. In March 2007, InternetNZ formed an external group (the Group) to investigate industry solutions around issues of Internet peering and local data interconnection, and hereby presents its findings.

2.1.2. Differences in what is meant by the word “peering” and emotive responses flowing from historical events can be overcome by defining as far as possible what peering means, or by referring instead to local data interconnection where possible.

2.1.3. The cost of transit appears to be high within New Zealand relative to that in comparable countries around the world. This would appear to be a significant driver of dissatisfaction around issues of interconnection, and many such issues might evaporate if the cost of transit were to reduce substantially.

2.1.4. The availability of complete and reliable traffic statistics for the Internet both within New Zealand and in and out of New Zealand appears to be impossible to obtain. Many sources have partial information, but these partial sources are often misleading and are responsible for creating much misinformation about what is actually happening in the Internet.

2.1.5. Take-up and delivery of rich media content is hampered on two levels. From the content provider’s perspective high national transit cost leads to hosting of content offshore and from a consumer’s perspective, lack of differentiation between national and international traffic charges limits the volume of rich content that consumers can access at reasonable cost.

2.1.6. There is no recognition that local traffic is cheaper to deliver than national traffic or international traffic. This may change if a local data interconnect proposal that Telecom is proposing to the market is successful. Success for that proposal would lead to a different peering model that would enable New Zealand consumers to react positively to the emergence of rich media content, and which we would expect would be supported by telecommunications firms and ISPs.

Now read one of the items in the comments submitted from Vodafone:

5. Consumer Pricing Strategies
The report suggests consumer pricing strategies that differentiate between national and international traffic might encourage a greater take-up of New Zealand-sourced content. Do you agree?

No. ISPs have done this in the past and it made no discernable difference. The cost of international content is approximately double that of national and that is not enough difference to lead to a real change in behaviour. This challenge is firmly in the hands of producers of local content.

And this is what TelstraClear has to say:

It is not clear how the creation of separatep ricing for local and intemational traffic would benefit end users, or how it could be effectively implemented.

Back to some comments from Vodafone:

2. Cost of Transit
International benchmarking suggests the cost of transit is relatively high in New Zealand. Do you agree? Specifically, is there a market failure or evidence of SMP (significant market power) with regard to the cost of transit? Should government conduct an investigation regarding the price of transit? And finally should Government regulate the price of transit?

Yes the cost is high, primarily due to lack of competition. Much of whatever competition that exists is regionally localised. However, we do not see a need to regulate price and do not see the need for an investigation unless it is done with a solution in mind, such as public investment into areas where competition is lacking.

3. The state of networking - lack of reliable data
The report highlights the difficulty in having any informed debate about the state
of networking in relation to local, national and international data interconnection in New Zealand, without access to reliable Internet traffic data and statistics.

Do you support the need for an initiative that would collect and make available on an aggregated basis, New Zealand Internet traffic flows and volumes? If so who should collect that data? Specifically; the Telecommunication Carrier’s Forum, Commerce Commission, Ministry of Economic Development, InternetNZ, or other?

Vodafone/Ihug does not see this as a high priority. If such information was collected it should be kept confidential with only high level aggregate data made public. We don’t have a strong preference for which organisation would do this but note the Commerce Commission has responsibility under the Telecommunications Act for reporting on the performance of the telecommunications market. Any such information flow could perhaps be facilitated by the TCF Information Reporting working party.

The peering report is 84 pages long, so I suggest you have a read and draw your own conclusions.

Linux is actually Windows - preposterous otherwise

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jan-2008 07:33

This is just too funny... Someone posted this on ZDNET:

Are you saying that this linux can run on a computer without windows underneath it, at all ? As in, without a boot disk, without any drivers, and without any services ?

That sounds preposterous to me.

If it were true (and I doubt it), then companies would be selling computers without a windows. This clearly is not happening, so there must be some error in your calculations. I hope you realise that windows is more than just Office ? Its a whole system that runs the computer from start to finish, and that is a very difficult thing to acheive. A lot of people dont realise this.

Microsoft just spent $9 billion and many years to create Vista, so it does not sound reasonable that some new alternative could just snap into existence overnight like that. It would take billions of dollars and a massive effort to achieve. IBM tried, and spent a huge amount of money developing OS/2 but could never keep up with Windows. Apple tried to create their own system for years, but finally gave up recently and moved to Intel and Microsoft.

Its just not possible that a freeware like the Linux could be extended to the point where it runs the entire computer fron start to finish, without using some of the more critical parts of windows. Not possible.

The original actually is here, where you can find other "gems" of knowledge:

Hey, I’m new here. A while ago I tried to talk to a bunch of people on another board and they were telling me Linux is not a Windows program. I’m here to prove them wrong.

Linux will have to find a way to work under Vista from here on, since it wont be able to rely on XP being readily available anymore.

Linux may seem like a good alternative to Office, but all that is happening in linux is that the windows interface is cleverly hidden away. It still needs the drivers and software services in order to run, and in most cases - that happens WITHOUT a valid windows licence.

This is just plain piracy.

Another probable reason for the failure to install is because your machine was running too fast - linux works best on machines around the 1GHz mark, and would be very unstable running on a 3GHz machine.

If this is linkbait, he succeeded brilliantly. Otherwise I would say someone forgot to take the meds...

TelstraClear 25 Mbps service delayed - no surprise there

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jan-2008 08:30

Just over a month ago I asked in my blog where was the 25 Mbps upgrade TCL promised for December 2007.

Not to my surprise we did not get any official comment neither on the blog itself or in the Geekzone forums where there's a TelstraClear account which they could use to let people know things.

Today I found out on Stuff that the upgrade is not coming until mid 2008 for Wellington:

TelstraClear expects to offer 25 megabit per second broadband connections to customers of its Wellington cable network by mid-year.

The lightning-fast 25Mbps plans should be available in Christchurch next month, says spokesman Chris Mirams.

TelstraClear had originally promised the faster broadband plans last year. Mr Mirams says the upgrade was held up by the availability of equipment that has only recently become available, and which arrived in New Zealand shortly after Christmas.

InternetNZ paper on Liability of ISPs for Third Party Content

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Jan-2008 10:57

Yesterday, during my weekly coffee meetings in town, I had the opportunity to meet a fellow Geekzoner and two friends from the InternetNZ, Richard Wood and Campbell Gardiner.

By coincidence, today I received in the mail the InternetNZ Business Plan 2008 - 2009 and a booklet "Liability of Internet Service Providers for Third Party Content", by Dr Judith Bayer, InternetNZ Senior Research Fellow in Cyberlaw:

Dr Bayer's research considers ISP liability within a variety of different fields of the New Zealand law, including defamation, copyright, hate speech and related freedom of expression issues. She draws on overseas experience of ISP liability schemes and evaluates thepros and cons of those schemes.

It is a 109 page paper with (sometimes) dense information - IANAL but it is easy to read and understand the implications of current and propose laws in New Zealand.

I would like to see a similar paper describing the content creator's side of this scenario, in special the implications for on-line publications such as newspapers, blogs, portals and forums.

Laptop bags and backpacks discounts at Skooba Design

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Jan-2008 09:38

We received a Skooba Design backpack during the Mobius Conference and they are really cool (and I am looking at one of their laptop bags now), so it's worth posting the offer I received today in the email from their online store.

Through the end of Febuary 2008 you can get 25% discount off any oder of US$ 50 or more at Skooba Design - even discounted items - using the code TECHREADER. And if you are in the continental US you get free UPS shipping.

Windows Home Server will not be on MSDN

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Jan-2008 08:48

If you have a MSDN subscription and have been waiting to test Micosoft Windows Home Server or even use it as a development platform for new Add-in, forget it for now.

The MSDN team has announced the decision of not making Windows Home Server available on MSDN.


Acer laptops with Ubuntu Linux available now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jan-2008 22:43

I think this is a temporary offer only, and I don't have many more details than what is in the product page, but it looks like Acer is making a limited laptop series available now with Ubuntu Linux pre-loaded.

You just have to go to a Dick Smith store and look for product code XC5822. The picture here is the same as the one on the site, but I am told it's not exactly the same as the model being offered.

They are some late 2004 Acer Aspire 4315-100508Ci models, based on an Intel Celeron M 540 1.86GHz Processor, 512MB DDR2 RAM, 80GB 5400 RPM SATA HDD, 14.1" Widescreen Display, DVD+CDRW Combo Drive, Intel Media Accelerator X3100 Graphics Card and wireless LAN.

The laptops are running Ubuntu 7.10.

What's more interesting is the price: NZ$699, making it a great value when compared to the ASUS Eee PC, which has only a 4 GB flash memory for storage and costs the same.

This should be a good introduction to Linux machines if you don't feel inclined to install this system on your own hardware.

Some recommended Windows Home Server Add-ins

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Jan-2008 13:01

After rebuilding my Windows Home Server (because of the HDD crash) I decided to invest some more into "Add-ins". Those are programs specially designed to run on a Windows Home Server machine, which is a bit different from the standard consumer-grade OS.

If you don't know yet, Windows Home Server is based on server code, making it a more robust platform. But not all software will run on it, so some special versions are needed. Also, add-ins can plug into the Windows Home Server console for easier remote management.

The first program I installed was Avast for Windows Home Server. One of the cool features is the complete integration withthe console, plus remote management of any Avast installed on PCs connected to this server. You can initiate a scan, schedule scans, start a program or virus definition updates and check the event logs.

Then I installed Whiist, so that I could add links to the Windows Home Server pages. But not only that, it will automatically create photo sites, including thumbnails, with nothing but a few clicks.

Next I installed Diskeeper 2008 for Windows Home Server. This new version also integrates into the console and is specially designed for Windows Home Server, which uses some special redirectors for file storage.

The most interesting add-in is Webguide (pictured). This is such a cool program that Microsoft entered into an agreement with the developers so that it could be free for Windows Home Server users. Go and download yours!

Webguide has some tricks though. If you are running the Power Pack 1 beta you will need to change a web.config file before installation. If you want to stream music from your server, make sure to load the local library using Windows Media Player. And if you want to stream DVDs then you will need a MPEG2 decoder and an AC3 decoder.

I have installed Cyberlink PowerDVD 7 on this server, so that I could use its MPEG2 decoder. And you can download a free AC3 decoder from here.

If you have an ISO file for your DVDs then you will need Daemon Tools. Just be aware when installing it to not install the advertising part of the software. Read each disclaimer before clicking ACCEPT!

Of course if you are playing DVDs over the network you will need the drive set to the appropriate region encoding - but you know this, right?

Rabbit ears for your LCD

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jan-2008 16:55

Yes, we have a cable modem service with 10 Mbps "tubes" here at home (although they promised 25 MBps for end of 2007 but this is now past and nothing happened). We run a Windows Home Server box, Windows Server 2003 for e-mail, Windows Vista laptop, Apple iMac, a couple of Windows Mobile Pocket PC. We have gigabit switches, wireless router, and terabytes of storage.

But we don't have IPTV in this country. And now that we had to move the Sony LCD from the wall because of some renovations we can't watch TV or cable anymore.

Even a service such as Sling Media would help - just plug their box to the cable modem adapter and get the output over wi-fi on the other side of the house.

But not in this country.

I understand we can have this functionality if we add a specific video card to a PC and configure the right software, hack a couple of XML files and things would be up and running.

But I don't want thing that require an electronic engineer to get working. I want simple things. A box that transmits wirelessly to my media centre or connects to my wireless network directly for streaking. We want consumer grade stuff.

We need TV tonight. The father-in-law is coming for dinner, and I am sure he will want to watch TV news at 6pm - Sir Ed died today, the news, the news!

The solution? Go out and buy rabbit ears for $20. Not even all those gigabytes of RAM, terabytes of storage, computing power and bandwidth can help if our providers don't come to sense and offer some decent modern entertainment service.

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!

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 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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