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Events in the next couple of weeks: Microsoft Unified Communications launch, Intel Hapertown launch

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Nov-2007 11:18

Next week (15 November) I will be in Sydney (Australia) for Intel’s 45nm Harpertown (video) launch. People present there will participate on a round table to get a more technical insight into the whole 45nm process, line up, etc. Tom Kilroy, head of Intel’s Digital Enterprise will be over from the US to answer questions as well as Graham Tucker who is Intel’s senior technical manager for Australia.

The week after I will be in Auckland (21 November) attending the Microsoft Unified Communications launch event I posted about a couple of weeks ago.

I will have the opportunity to participate on a very early breakfast for the media where we will have a chance to meet and learn from Kim Akers (General Manager, Unified Communications, Microsoft Corporation) Kirsten Gilbertson (Microsoft ICA Leader, Nortel Asia) and Michael Przytula (Senior Solution Architect, Hewlett-Packard, Asia Pacific & Japan).

Thanks to Intel and Microsoft for the invitations.

Intel Ark launches

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Nov-2007 11:09

I just got this tip on my e-mail and I haven't heard of it before, so here it goes: Intel is launching a website with a load of information that may be very useful for system integrators, enthusiasts, and IT professionals in general. You can visit the new service on Intel ARK (Automated Relational Knowledgebase).

You just browse the information presented there or search via keywords including the brand name, processor number, MM#, order code, SPEC code, code name, CPU Frequency, CPU Cache, or CPU FSB. Some AJAX coding behind the scenes so you have some nice visual effects too.

Information retrieved includes shipping status, price and more. For chipsets for example you get information on valid processors, max memory, bandwidth, packaging, etc.

Interesting tool, constantly updated directly from Intel's own databases.

Slingshot employees on Geekzone

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Nov-2007 14:31

It appears Slingshot employees (or people claiming to be) decided to show up on Geekzone for the first time... And they don't accept criticism:

I would have to agree with bites on this one.. that article did indeed contain VERY little evidence.. If anything it would appear you are bad mouthing most of WXC's major compition is some sort of half arse attempt to help them get ahead?

Also the two people have very close IP addresses, both belonging to Slingshot. I am pretty sure these guys don't represent the company's views. But if they do, I pity the poor users...

Slingshot and Woosh woes... Xtra nominated worst ISP in New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Nov-2007 20:30

Interesting that Xtra received a mention in the latest Consumer survey (subscription required) as the worst ISP in the country.

Xtra had some problems, no doubt. The Go Large fiasco for example. To refresh your memory, Xtra promised "unleashed" broadband and one specific plan ("Go Large") was supposed to allow "unlimited" downloads with reduced speeds at certain times of the day.

What people found out is that the slow speeds were common at any time, and the service was unusable.

Telecom put it right though, by offering a refund to affected users.

Then the "bubble", the e-mail migration from Xtra servers to Yahoo! servers based in Australia, which caused (and still causes) headaches to users trying to get to their emails, or simply receive e-mails from friends.

Once again Telecom put it right, by offering an automatic compensation, plus an one million dollars donation to charities in New Zealand.

Now I read around the Geekzone forums that two ISPs are in similar trouble. The difference is that Telecom put it right, but the other ISPs don't see to be moving to make it right.

First is Woosh (see discussions 1, 2, and 3 in our Woosh forum). The ISP offered an "unlimited" plan but it sees the 1,000 users still in this plan are using more than Woosh predicted. So instead of a fix, Woosh moved all those users to a reduced speed pool, 24/7, providing speeds that are just below dial-up speeds, while charging the same as before.

But for the first time I am also seeing something I haven't come across much before: people that actually vote with their feet, close their accounts and move to another ISP - in this particular case it seems like a mass migration to Xnet. Xnet is wel known to Geekzone users, because their technical people are active in our forums and provide a great service (I use their VoIP service VFX over my TelstraClear cable modem connection).

Then there's Slingshot, which seems to provide less service than promised (and a discussion in our Broadband forum). In short, it seems that users who are restricted to dial-up speeds on Slingshot as part of contract, also have restrictions on services. Once you use your quote for the month you can access websites and e-mail but that is it. You can't connect to other Internet services such as IRC, Instant Messaging and so on.

The problem is that this restriction is not listed in their site, so when users ask why some services are not working, Slingshot help desk people tell them to "buy more data blocks", which will "unleash" the speeds - and unblock the services.

The discussion is going on, and a self-claimed Slingshot employee says this is not the case, most likely a CSR with wrong information at hand. So let's see how it ends.

Really, is there any limits in what users have to accept? And was Xtra "worst New Zealand ISP" deserved after all?

By the way, here's the list (best to worst):

Kiwi Online

The fear of technology: is it illegal to use laptops in cafes?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Nov-2007 17:18

Last weekend I had all Geekzone moderators in town for a weekend involving dinner, brunch, drinks (I hear a couple of them got back to the hotel at 6am) and of course some brainstorming session on what Geekzone will be in 2008.

Because of this full on weekend I couldn't commit to attend the SuperHappyDevHouse Mini, the sequel to the SHDH Pilot that started it all here in New Zealand.

But I did have time to briefly stop at the Southern Cross and meet Brenda and other developers who were happily coding, sharing knowledge and drinking coffee...

The event this time was smaller than the pilot, with about 20 developers working in a reserved area, with wireless access to the Internet (I counted two Windows laptops and all others were Mac OS - plus one Linux laptop).

The funniest comment from that event came from Brenda:

There was a family seated nearby giving us strange looks -- the adult ensuring the kids didnt' look at us for fear of something.

Eventually one of family walked over to the bar cashier, pointed at us, and said "Isn't that illegal?"

Not sure what he thought we were doing.

And this is in the country where we are pushing hard to have broadband to everyone, bringing down monopolies, unbundling the local loop and more...


UPDATE: If you are interested in joining SuperHappyDevHouse, it is now happening on the first Sunday of every month. Visit the SuperHappyDevHouse Aotearoa website to find out where is the next one.

Is Okta Mobile a reference to Aotearoa?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Nov-2007 13:43

I was talking to a friend about the new Telecom New Zealand brand, Okta Mobile, and she pointed out an interesting relationship between "Okta" and "Aotearoa":

Aotearoa: "The land of the long white cloud", widely known and accepted Māori name for New Zealand.

Okta: In meteorology, an okta is a unit of measurement used to describe cloud cover.

I haven't heard anything during the launch about this relationship, but could it be intentional?

Thank to Brenda for the tip...

UPDATE: And Telecom New Zealand tells me this is not intentional... A coincidence?

Geekzone group on Facebook

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Nov-2007 08:55

I have just created a Geekzone group on Facebook. Open membership so feel free to join - and while you join you should add me as friend as well.

What's going on at Woosh? We will (hopefully) find out today

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Oct-2007 10:28

Over the last month (October 2007) I have been reading lots of complaints in the Geekzone forums about Woosh services.

Originally a "wireless" ISP providing users with Internet access through WCDMA TDD-based technology, they moved into the wireline DSL broadband some time ago, when they bought Quicksilver Internet, an established, but small, ISP.

Anyway, back to the problem on hand, it seems Woosh have been providing less than stellar services for their users on unlimited plans. This seems to be affecting people on an old plan providing unlimited traffic.

It sounds like the old "unleashed" problem we saw happening at Xtra that generated so many discussions, and at the end a publick apology from Telecom New zealand. To refresh your memory, the Xtra plan had no caps, but they were heavily shaping traffic. Unfortunately their implementation was so wrong that they were actually slowing down any and all traffic on those "unleashed" plans.

Some of the Woosh users now are thinking the ISP started doing the same, but only for the "unlimited" plans.

Today I received an e-mail from Woosh's Retention Manager Tracy Facer, and we arranged a conference call for 4pm... Stay tunned as we find out more on what's going on.

As soon as I have their comments I will update this post and post a reply in the ongoing discussion.

UPDATE: I have posted the results of our conference call in the discussion.

No free wi-fi for your customers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Oct-2007 08:38

Of course this is a different situation from what we see in New Zealand, where spaces are not as constrained as in the U.S. (except for Auckland), and those strip mals are not common here, but it's interesting to see lease and let contracts with "technology" clauses, as pointed out by James Kendrick:

I found it strange that they don't offer WiFi so in a recent email exchange with the owner I asked why they don't offer WiFi of any kind.  His answer really surprised me as it would never occur to me that such a situation could exist.  He admitted that providing free WiFi for customers is now very cheap and something that he'd like to do but he can't.  See, his shop is in a very small local strip center with limited parking and his landlord prohibits the offering of WiFi of any kind as it encourages patrons to stay longer than usual and tie up parking spaces.  It's actually in his lease that he can't offer WiFi as it is important to have rapid turnover for the parking spaces for the center.  This totally surprised me and made me realize that it's tough to be a small businessman in such a competitive field so next time you visit such a shop don't jump on the owner, they may not have a choice to forego the WiFi.

Now, we don't have free wi-fi in New Zealand cafes (we actually have free wi-fi at Esquires Coffee Houses courtesy of Tomizone), but in the main business areas it's common to find commercial wi-fi hotspots. However I never thought landlords had so much control on what people can offer in terms of technology.

I agree though with one of the comments on JK's blog about people staying too long when free wi-fi is available. It makes it harder for other patrons to actually enjoy a coffee because someone is hogging a table to download music while paying for a glass of soda...

What do you think? IS free wi-fi something you would like to see in cafes?

Interviewed at TUANZ

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Oct-2007 18:30

If you want to find out more about Geekzone and myself, check the TUANZ blog for an interview where I answer some questions about community and corporate blogging. Worth the read (even though I am biased).

TUANZ is the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand.

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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