My window to the world

Telecom New Zealand releases GSM data roaming prices: where is the competition?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jan-2008 08:56

Here we go again ranting on the mobile operators... If you don't know yet (but should) Telecom New Zealand is in the path of migrating its CDMA EVDO Rev A network to a mix of WCDMA and HSDPA.

The new network is being deployed from this year, but CDMA EVDO Rev A (wich has been just been completed last month) will stay around for another five years.

Telecom has announced the prices for data roaming on overseas GSM/3G networks. And it is not pretty.

You see, prices are pretty much similar to Vodafone's own prices - an absurd amount of money. Let's take for example if you go to Australia:

Telecom New Zealand: NZ$8/MB, Vodafone New Zealand: NZ$10/MB (on Vodafone Australia) or NZ$30/MB (non-Vodafone networks).

That's expensive. It's NZ$8 per megabyte (and up to NZ$30 per megabye if using a Vodafone account on non-Vodafone networks)!

In most hotel rooms you can get a full day of broadband for AU$29.95. Or you can get onto Telstra WiFi Hotspots for AU$27.50 a day. Or you can ask the office you are visiting if they have an open network for visitors.

Of course, since the only Telecom "worldmode" (GSM and CDMA) device is a phone you might not end up using much - unless they have plans to have loan WCDMA data cards for you to use while on those overseas networks.

Overall it's great to have an option now in terms of data roaming. The bad thing is that I would like to see prices 1/10th of these.

Bt the most important thing to realise is his is a direct and high cost of doing New Zealand business overseas!

Oh, and Vodafone's excuse is that prices are set based on what overseas networks charge us. But do they want me to believe Digicel (Aruba) charges the same as T-Mobile (USA) or Telia (Denmark)?

Vodafone updates: what a mess

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jan-2008 08:42

I am still reinstalling the applications in my laptop, after the Big Meltdown last week. Last night I was reinstalling the cellular data connection software.

I use two providers for mobile data: Telecom New Zealand (CDMA EVDO Rev A) and Vodafone New Zealand (HSDPA).

Telecom provides me a much better experience in New Zealand with better CDMA EVDO coverage than Vodafone's HSDPA service. And sometimes much faster too. Vodafone, on the other hand, provides me with data cards that I can actually use while overseas.

Mind you I don't use Vodafone data roaming overseas anymore, because it costs NZ$30 per megabyte when I am in the US. So I just use their data cards with some overseas SIM card. But I digress. I actually use Vodafone here in New Zealand when I can't get onto the Telecom network for some reason - and their coverage not always coincide so it's good to have both options.

Last night I downloaded the latest software for the Telecom hardware I have here (the Sierra Wireless AirCard 595 PCMCIA and the Sierra Wireless 595U USB). I installed the software and had both devices working in less than five minutes.

I proceeded with the Vodafone software. I have a Novatel Merlin XU870 Express Card and the Huwaei E220 (vodem). The Vodafone New Zealand website lists the VMC 9.1 as the latest supporting these. I downloaded it, the slowest possible connection to their servers and installed. It took about 90 minutes to get both devices working.

Then I found out the VMC 9.1 software causes some problems, such as disabling the built-in WiFi while connected and the solution is VMC 9.2 - which is supposedly available in the Vodafone Business website (a corporate site, not the Vodafone New Zealand site).

Good luck trying to find the software though. If you browse the site by OS, the Windows Vista page says the latest version is VMC 9.1 (which I already have) and actually says the Merlin XU870 is not supported (when I know it is). If you browse by hardware, the Merlin XU870 page says the latest is the VMC 6.0 released in 2005 (way before the Merlin XU870 HSDPA was even released?).

But I can't find th VMC 9.2.

Is it really hard for Vodafone to actually make things easy for their users? I guess after the ten days roaming fiasco between Vodafone Australia and Vodafone New Zealand we can expect anything.

To the point: uncov

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Jan-2008 11:10

One of the best commentaries on web 2.0 technologies and people, with very heavy wording, uncov goes to the point (most of the times).

Also worth checking are the pictures and captions for each post - an example posted here.

The blog is no fail. You can read a Wired Q&A with the author Ted Dziuba.


Windows Home Server crash, Windows Vista crash, bad Maxtor drive, worst Western Digital drive

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jan-2008 10:28

What a start of the year... Well, first perhaps I should say that we had a nice holiday in Napier, the Art Deco city in New Zealand. And I hope you all had a good break too.

But technology failed me, horriby.

First the Maxtor OneTouch 1TB drive died - again. I bought the original Maxtor OneTouch 1TB drive in April 2006. Through December 2007 it was replaced twice because of failures. This time it is out of warranty and I am not ever going back to a Maxtor now. Three units failures in less than two years?

Because of this my Windows Home Server died. I had the Duplication option set but it seems the Maxtor crash was too much and I had to reinstall Windows Home Server from scratch. Which was a bit of pain because it didn't like the first HDD already partitioned. The solution was to get a Windows Server install DVD and use it to delete the partitions and start the install again.

To replace the Maxtor I bought a WD MyBook 750GB. What a bad decision. I should have searched first. This drive goes to sleep when there is no activity and the only way to mount it back is by unplugging it and plugging again. This is not good for a home server. There are lots of reports of this problem and Western Digital seems not to respond support requests.

The end result? Windows Home Server noticed the drive "unplugged" and couldn't remove it without a reboot.

Now I am using this drive as a backup only. I can't return it because I don't have the original box any more and I found the problem after a few days only because the drive was always up while Windows Home Server copied things.

The solution will be to go back to the shop and buy a Seagate Agent. Those drives are perfect. I have a 160GB for my laptop, plus a 500GB and 320GB on my Windows Home Server and they work ok.

As for Windows Vista on my laptop, I scheduled a boot time CHKDSK and Windows Vista wouldn't start up.

I spent Saturday evening reinstalling Windows Vista, Office and the other basic tools I need. Since my Windows Home Server died just before the trip I didn't have all the files available for restore, but luckily I use Carbonite for on-line backup and I am restoring the files from the storage on the cloud.

Also while installing Windows Vista I decided to go for 32 bit this time. I was getting sick and tired of not having 64 bit drivers or having to download different versions of programs - even Microsoft doesn't generate 64 bit applications - there's no Office 64 bit and Windows Home Server doesn't currently have a 64 bit connector.

So this is how I spent the last three days of my holidays...

Australian government officialy nanny-state: Internet filtering

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jan-2008 07:11

Another quick post due to the holidays. The Australian government decided that they know better than the people who elected them, and it is making Internet filtering mandatory in Australia.

I agree with Zoli's comments:

"The Land of Oz is already in 2008.  Too bad they ring in the new year with a controversy over government  censorship. Good intentions aside, letting Big Brother grow on people is never a good idea.  Governments can not, and should not take over the family’s responsibility.  It’s a slippery road… governments by their very nature tend to expand: porn filtering today, political views tomorrow - we know where it leads

If you are a parent, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, YOU (and not the government) have the joy and responsibility of bringing the children to a safe and better world."

A dubious filter today can be turned into a political tool tomorrow. It's dangerous. Don't let this monster come in sneakily.

Have a good 2008.

Puzzle time: what do these have in common?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Dec-2007 13:42

I will give a copy of Windows Live OneCare security software for anyone who posts here a comment explaining what is the relationship between "motherforker" and "J Edgar Hoover" and what happened to motherforker after the 1970s.

I will close comments here about the 5th January 2008... Let's see if any old timers will know this.

The Netscape browser is dead

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Dec-2007 10:26

Another short post during the holiday break: AOL has announced end of development for the Netscape browser, and plans to stop shipping security patches for its current version as of 1st February 2008.

I remember using Netscape since its first version on a Windows 3.1 environment, with Trumpet Winsock.

For nostalgic people AOL suggests downloading the Mozilla Firefox and add the Netscape theme.

Amazon sells 17 Nintendo Wii systems per second

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Dec-2007 10:13

Impressive: Amazon sold Nintendo Wii systems at a rate of 17 per second before Christmas. This and more statistics in their press release.

More on the OpenXML discussion: the CompTIA view on future-proofing IT and standards

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Dec-2007 12:07

The last time I wrote about the OpenXML votes in New Zealand my blog attracted some good comments - mostly from the open source community.

Just after my blog post I met the NZOSS President Don Christie during a event here in Wellington, and he told me I was in the wrong side of the fence on this one. But we agreed that we have to find a side and stick with it anyway...

Since then Standards New Zealand decided to cast NO to the OpenXML standard, but Standards New Zealand has created an advisory group to meet for five days in Geneva to discuss concerns raised during the voting. The participants in this group are Internet NZ, NZ Open Source Society (technical),  NZ Open Source Society (strategist), IBM NZ, Microsoft NZ, Microsoft NZ partner, Archives New Zealand, State Services Commission and the NZ Computer Society.

Now I have received a copy of a document written by CompTIA's Michael Mudd, and I am reproducing the document here because it pretty much reflects my way of thinking on this matter.

The CompTIA is a global trade association representing the business interests of the information technology industry. For more than 25 years CompTIA has provided research, networking and partnering opportunities to its 20,000 plus members in 102 countries. The association is involved in developing standards and best practices, and influencing the political, economic and educational arenas that impact IT worldwide.

Future-proofing IT Policy – is it possible, or desirable?
By Michael Mudd

I imagine you’re enjoying this article on your Kenbak-2000 personal computer, or secretly wishing you were the richest man in the world, John Blankenbaker. This easily could have been the case if in 1971 the Kenbak-1, subsequently considered by the Computer History Museum as the world’s first ‘personal computer (PC),’ had been recognized as the sole standard for the future development of the PC.

Think; no 1977 Trinity (Apple II, TRS-80, and Commodore PET) or IBM 5150 in 1981, which arguably set the scene for the entire PC era, making household names of previously niche players such as Intel and Microsoft. Thankfully, while certain patents were awarded to the Kenbak-1, we can thank IT industry policy-makers of the time for seeing how much more innovation and invention was left in the PC industry. Even more importantly the market needed more time to reward the companies who were delivering systems that could best meet their needs. This ability to create an environment where innovation flourished, while intellectual property was still credited and protected means that today nearly two billion PCs have been sold, versus the 40 Kenbak-1 PCs that made it off the production line.

The ability to allow continuous market-driven innovation, rather than creating standards and policies based on an early view of what the world of tomorrow might look like is central to business success – it means that you’re not deciphering this article from Morse code, or driving to work in a Model-T Ford.

Why is Innovation Important - Open Innovation versus Closed Innovation
The advent of the Internet has fundamentally changed the way the businesses define business models and harness innovation. Henry Chesbrough in his book “Open Innovation, the New Imperative for Creating Profit from Technology” refers to the time before and after the Internet, as ‘Closed Innovation’ and ‘Open Innovation,’ respectively.

Before the wide adoption of the Internet, innovation used to be a closed process, undertaken with a silo-mentality. Business leaders used to think that to profit from research and development that, like John Blankenbaker, they had to be first to market. They would have to directly hire people to make discoveries, develop and market the discoveries themselves and then use tools such as patents to control this intellectual property so that competitors could not share in the spoils.

Chesbrough notes that today’s Internet-powered competitive business landscape makes closed innovation increasing hard to achieve. Incredibly fluid employee availability and mobility, the proliferation of small market-driven technology businesses (e.g. today small businesses accounted for over 99 per cent of all businesses), outsourcing, off shoring and the proliferation of new market-driven sources of innovation means that with great product choice and faster innovation cycles that customers increasingly want product interoperability, rather than a rigid, pre-defined single-standard.

Document Standards – Why Should Businesses Care?
There is an interoperability versus single-standard debate raging at the moment, which has a direct impact on business – should the Open Document Format (ODF) be the sole standard for business documents, or should Office Open XML (OOXML) also be allowed a choice for businesses and document users?

Data formats have been around as long as computing. They reflect the varying capabilities and functions of different computing systems and have evolved as those computing systems have evolved. Punch cards were once commonplace, but you wouldn’t think to use them today. In the decades since their use, a wide range of formats (TXT, PDF, HTML, and DOC, to name a few) have become popular because they meet specific user needs and tap into new computing capabilities.

Two years ago Microsoft submitted Office Open XML to Ecma International, an international association founded in 1961 and dedicated to the standardization of information, to go through the process to make it an open standard. A growing list of companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Novell, Xandros, Linspire, TurboLinux, Corel and Dataviz recognized the desire of users of their software to work with multiple formats and are giving those users the tools they need to do so. However, despite industry belief that customers would be happy to choose, there is a chance in March next year that some national body members of the ISO may not approve OOXML as a document standard. In a preliminary vote last September, 51 national bodes voted yes, but under the consensus system of the ISO this was insufficient.

We should expect the creation of new formats in the future as technology evolves (e.g. Uniform Office Format, or UOF, under development in China, also a group of former ODF supporters have broken away from the ODF standard and are now promoting another document format standard called CDF),  and as has always been the case, users should be able to choose the formats that work best for them, especially if they are fundamentally different formats that meet different needs in the marketplace, as is the case here.

OOXML sceptics argue that OOXML contains Microsoft-specific legacy formats which can cause interoperability problems, and will serve only to strengthen Microsoft's domination in the office productivity software market. OOXML is already being used in the 2007 Microsoft Office system, making it easier for people to use the software suite that creates the vast majority of the world’s business document to create and share documents, regardless of the platform or application.

Customers who want to work with multiple formats can do so now and into the future through the use of tools called ‘connectors.’ However, the simple fact is that OOXML should be agreed as an interoperable standard along with ODF (and whatever other standards meet the criteria) to allow the market to choose which one they will use to achieve what they need with their business documents.

Standards and policy – when the market decides, we all win!
Suppose Charles H. Duell, Director of the U.S. Patent Office had shut it down following his 1899 proclamation that ‘everything that can be invented, has been invented.” When people take a narrow view of what is achievable through technology, innovation is the inevitable collateral damage – especially dangerous at a time when the governments of Asia are looking to ICT as a major value-add to economic outputs and creating jobs.

I recently attended a meeting in Malaysia where there was a clear statement from the Honourable Dato Dr. Jamaludin Jarjis, Malaysia’s Minister of Schience, Technology and Innovation, that the country should adopt an open innovation model and that this should be market driven. CompTIA supports industry standards and strongly believes that standards such as OOXML are good for any countries in the region that want to pursue Open Innovation approaches. I’m not necessarily saying that the market would choose to use OOXML, but the market needs the opportunity to decide, otherwise we could be building an environment that stifles, rather than encourages innovation.

If Mr. Duell had done that in 1899, I might still be wearing a fashionable Victorian knee length frock coat and a top hat.

Michael Mudd, Director of Public Policy, Asia-Pacific, CompTIA.
Mike Mudd is the Director of Public Policy for Asia Pacific and has responsibility for running CompTIA’s Public Policy initiatives for the region encompassing Japan to Australia and China and India. This region, home to half the worlds population is also amongst the most dynamic and challenging for the ICT industry in the 21st century.

I agree with its basis that a standard doesn't need to be a single unique entity, but it can be multiple agreed codes.

For full disclosure I must inform you that I found this document with the help of Microsoft New Zealand. Of course if the NZOSS or any other commenter wants to send me something similar I am happy to write about it too. Or just comment below.

Kiwi companies invited to participate in Technium Challenge

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Dec-2007 10:04

I just got an invitation to to Kiwi tech firms to participate in the Technium Challenge. The Challenge is an opportunity for any company looking to move into European markets. Earlier this year Rod Drury was all up because Xero won the Technium Challenge.

So here is the invitation in its original form:

You are invited to apply to the worldwide Technium Challenge organised by International Business Wales (IBW - and Technium UK.

The Technium Challenge ( is a unique business planning competition that helps winners expand overseas. It is targeted to smart Kiwi SME technology companies looking to launch into UK, European and other international markets.

Entering the Technium Challenge will give you the opportunity to take your next step on the global stage.  If you’re ready to accelerate your plans to set up a UK sales and marketing office or work with UK partners and distributors to deliver your offerings to more customers, begin with the Technium Challenge.

Winners will receive a host of benefits including:

- free UK office space for a year within a Technium Innovation centre and an intense international arrival support package;
- on-going guidance and support for developing an international business plan;
- the New Zealand finalist will be taken on a Learning Journey to Wales where they will be introduced to like-minded companies, advanced business networks and leading researchers in their field.

Application is simple. You are invited to submit an executive summary of your Company’s business plan to Rhodri Jones (IBW) – the closing date for entries is 5 p.m. Friday 28 March 2008.

Applicants who qualify will receive help in developing an international business plan, which will need to be submitted to the judging panel by Friday 4 April. You will then briefly present your business plan to New Zealand judges Rod Oram (leading Business Commentator) and Chris Jones (CEO, Mobilis Networks and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year) in April.

The New Zealand finalist will then make their way to Cardiff in May for their ‘Learning Journey to Wales’ and to compete against other country finalists in the final leg of the competition.

So, are you ready for the challenge?

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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