My window to the world

Free Wi-Fi with your coffee

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Oct-2007 21:14

I found out other day that you can get one hour (or 60 MB) of free Wi-Fi when you purchase anything at some Esquires Coffee Houses around New Zealand.

The wireless Internet access is being provided by Tomizone. You just have to buy something at Esquires and ask for your One Hour Pass card with an access code. Connect to the Tomizone hotspot, enter the code and off you go...

Not all stores have this deal but to find out which ones you will be able to get your daily coffee with Wi-Fi, check the Esquires Store Locator and look for the Free Wi-Fi:

No, I don't know what are the penguins on those maps...

Reporting New Zealand spam

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Oct-2007 10:05

One morning (or any time of the day really), your junk e-mail folder (if you are lucky like me) or inbox (if you get all the spam there) shows a message that is clearly unsolicited, promoting a pyramid scheme, with a New Zealand address and phone number.

$100 DAILY  $500 DAILY?  $1000 DAILY?  LOTS MORE?

Well, NOW you can. The uniqueness of our daily and monthly Cash Flow System allows anyone to generate HUGE SUMS OF MONEY on a routine basis.

Not only that, as soon as you start receiving a specified amount of money ( by using our remarkable CASH FLOW SYSTEM ), the Club will introduce you to eye-popping investment practices that can make you very wealthy in a hurry!  Right this minute there are average folks with average intelligence gaining upwards of 100-200 PERCENT PROFITS within 5 to 45 days using these unique, but safe and formulated, investment methods.  Annualized profits of over 1000 PERCENT are commonplace.  And, very soon, you can be making these kinds of profits!

To get a great deal and a preferred status on the NZ Millionaires Club Membership, Call the authorized promoter of the club for New Zealand NOW on 021 [number removed]

[Address removed]
Mount Wellington
New Zealand

What a load of rubish. The first thing is that you are tempted to call the number and tell the person to go sell bananas. But this will not go anywhere, and you might even get problems later, if they get your phone number from the caller id, and so on.

But you can do better than this. The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs is the entity enforcing the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007.

What you have to do is to visit the New Zealand DIA Anti-Spam website and report the e-mail received.

Now this is only effective if the spam is originated in New Zealand or offering a New Zealand-base service or product.

Also make sure you know it is really "unsolicited". If you subscribe to an e-mail newsletter and after a few months don't want to receive it anymore this is not unsolicited. You can simply unsubscribe from the newsletter. By law all newsletters will have to present a way to remove your e-mail address from the mailing list.

If you are a business, the Department hosted a series of practical seminars nationwide in August and September 2007 (PowerPoint link), to ensure businesses know what the new requirements are under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act. Check the PowerPoint presentation or consult with your law firm.

TelstraClear broadband service measured

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Oct-2007 20:50

Do you remember TelstraClear sending out a release entitled "TelstraClear's DSL service stars as New Zealand's top broadband performer"?

There was a good discussion on Geekzone forums about the methodology used, and the location of these tests - all in the Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch CBD - impacting on results, making those not the "average kiwi broadband experience".

However, as explained by Antonios, Epitiro, the company performing the tests, requested a broadband connection like any other business would do, and got what they asked for. So no harm done, right?

But this survey was showing the business experience, not the average household broadband. Just today I received an e-mail from Epitiro, explaining some changes in the way they collect information, including a small client users can download to monitor their broadband connections, providing the company with real life information about the state of broadband in this country.

An excerpt from this e-mail:

• As from last week, we have added email round-trip time to our suite of tests. This adds an important extra dimension to the results we publish;

• We will shortly be adding P2P traffic measurement too. This will allow us to see which ISPs are shaping P2P traffic. Those results will be fascinating;

• By the end of 2007, we will have added eight more sites in the major cities, including sites in Hamilton and Dunedin for the first time;

• By the end of 2007, we will have launched a major campaign to encourage consumers to download our new measurement agent onto their PCs. This will provide us with a complete national coverage, with potentially thousands of measurement points nationwide. We'll be the first country in the world to have such a comprehensive system.

• This means that we will be able to measure the smaller ISPs, and provide regional performance breakdowns;

• With that service in place, we will also be able to track the performance of LLU v non-LLU exchanges.

Now this is going to be interesting! Measuring the P2P traffic and even e-mail?

Last week a friend sent me an e-mail from his Xtra account to my own hosted Exchange Server. He sent the e-mail at 4pm, and we met at 5:30pm. Even though he was just across the city, I only received the e-mail after our meeting - about 90 minutes to get the e-mail across!

Let's see these results...

Windows Live Messenger ad: which telco is this?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Oct-2007 19:10

You have to watch to the end of the ad (in Spanish) to find out which mobile operator is promoting Windows Live Messenger:
Note that they are all using Symbian devices, not Windows Mobile...

The Apple iPhone coming through Orcon to New Zealand?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Oct-2007 08:15

Is it possible that New Zealand ISP Orcon is working to bring the Apple iPhone to the country? There are rumours going around about this possibility.

Back in May 2007 Orcon signed a wholesale agreement with Vodafone New Zealand to launch a GSM mobile service. Originally promised for October, this launch has been delayed.

The original agreement established Orcon as a wholesale operator, meaning they would be offering an Orcon branded set of products delivered over the existing Vodafone network infrastructure.

Then the Apple iPhone rumours started. I first heard on the streets. Then now I am reading in one of the Geekzone discussions:

So someone suggested something to me yesterday re an official iPhone release in NZ, and putting the various pieces of info together... it almost seems obvious who's going to officially bring the iPhone to NZ. Anyone care to speculate?

And in a subsequent reply:

It may explain TradeMe's hostile position towards iPhone listings (Orcon have "close" ties with them)

Maybe Vodafone's EDGE slip up wasn't really a slip up, but a sign of things to come?

Could explain Kordia's interest in mesh wifi.

Could explain Oron's (sic) delay in launching their cell operation.

Would be an excellent product to launch a cell operation with. Plenty of priceless free media exposure and hype.

If it's true, it'd be a cunning move I think.

The "Vodafone EDGE slip up" is a reference to a page on Vodafone New Zealand's website that incorrectly listed "EDGE" as part of their service sets. After the page was posted on Fossie's blog Vodafone quickly fixed it (almost too quickly, something like withing 30 minutes) and posted in our forums an explanation.

Officially Vodafone New Zealand only runs a GPRS/WCDMA/HSDPA network here, but I have seen occasions that my Palm Treo 750v showed an "E" signal (although it could be a bug in the software?).

The Kordia reference is to its new Kordia Metropolitan Wi-Fi service launched this month, with plans to cover the central locations in New Zealand's main cities.

And don't forget, Kordia bought Orcon a few months ago.

Why wouldn't Vodafone New Zealand launch the iPhone themselves? Perhaps because the Vodafone Group has passed this, leaving the iPhone for T-Mobile Germany, O2 UK, Orange? And because the Vodafone Music Store is the top on-line music store in the country, and wouldn't want to hurt its offering with Apple iTunes Music Store?

Does it make sense at all?

What Windows Live is not

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Oct-2007 09:35

Today I was reading Presentation Zen, and found a link to an old post comparing Bill Gates and Steve Jobs keynote style. It's worth a read if you are involved in public speaking. The whole blog is worth it actually, including the new Learning from Bill Gates and Steve Jobs post.

Now back to my subject, there I found this picture:

Windows Live
Internet-based personal services to bring together your digital world

Going to I found this definition:

Windows Live brings your online world together and helps you manage your social network.

Sounds good. But why the only services listed there are Search, Mail, Spaces, OneCare, Favorites (sic), MSN? Where are all the other Live services? Why aren't all these new exciting services listed?

Where are the links to Live LocalMaps, Skydrive, Messenger and dozens of other services? Since you're "bringing together", can't your guys just create an updated page with all the services linked from there? Or is it too hard even for Microsoft to keep track of what's being developed?

On another note, why Microsoft insists that browsers using English (New Zealand) shouldn't see the services that English (Australia) or English (US) see? Even when I try to post a feedback on a service I am using I get an error message saying that English (New Zealand) is not a supported language. How is the English (New Zealand) different from English (Australia) or English (United Kingdom) (sheep jokes aside)?

Microsoft, you should make sure Windows Live is bringing together digital content, not splicing it. You should stop doing this artficial "locale"-based language market separation thing that is not real.

Don't take me wrong, I use Live services - check for example (free e-mail accounts for anyone!) - but it is hard to find things and is even harder to explain to your parents what Live does.

On New Zealand DST changes again: Apple and Debian

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Oct-2007 08:56

My previous post about the New Zealand DST changes got thousands of reads, because it explains an issue that affects corporate and consumers in general. I congratulated Microsoft and Telecom New Zealand for being proactive.

After the post I found out in the comments that Vodafone New Zealand sent out a letter (yes, snail mail!) to RIM BlackBerry users explaining that DST was coming and things should be changed on their servers. Vodafone sent a letter one week before the DST change came into effect! This is not time enough for Sysadmins to prepare patches, apply, work things out. How poor is that?

Vodafone put up a page with some information, and at least they are clear that changing the clock on the BackBerry itself will not change the appointments - this needs a change on the BES.

Again, if you think just changing the time on the device is fine, read my previous blog post. The DST problem affects not only appointments created in the new DST but it affects appointments you create during the new DST that fall outside the standard DST.

Then we have Apple who has not released a patch at all. A discussion in the Geekzone Forums asked "Where is the Apple update?"... It's nowhere. Apple just recommended users to manually set the clock. This is not good enough because it only fixes the system clock. What about appointments and application running on the basis of the system timezone? Are we sure it works ok? The only thing you find is a lousy page with instructions on how to change the time on Mac OS X.

Now I read this on Slashdot::

"Although a tzdata release that includes New Zealand's recent DST changes (2007f) has been out for some time, Debian are refusing to push the update from testing into the current stable distribution, codenamed Etch, on the basis that 'it's not a security bug.' This means that unless New Zealand sysadmins install the package manually, pull the package from testing, or alter the timezone to 'GMT-13' manually, all systems running Debian Etch in New Zealand currently have the incorrect time, as DST went into effect this morning. As one of the last comments in the bug report says, 'even Microsoft are not this silly.' The final comment (at this writing), from madcoder, says 'The package sits in volatile for months. Please take your troll elsewhere.'"

Clearly, if I were a corporate IT admin, CTO, CIO I would just stay away from those vendors who refuse to make their systems work or help sysadmins.

Patent system is crashing: IBM wants to patent outsourcing

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Sep-2007 09:22

A story forming on Slashdot tells us that IBM is trying to patent outsourcing to other countries:

The USPTO is considering IBM's patent application for Outsourcing of Services, a 'method for identifying human-resource work content to outsource offshore of an organization' to 'countries where cheaper labor prices and/or cheaper materials are available.' Then there's Big Blue's Electronic Marketplace for Identifying, Assessing, Reserving and Engaging Knowledge-Workers for an Assignment Using Trade-Off Analysis, which provides a handy-dandy IBM calculator that drives home the point that you'll pay less for IGS India workers, whether onshore or offshore. And with its System and Method of Using Speech Recognition at Call Centers to Improve Their Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction, IBM describes how to operate in 'low cost foreign countries' with 'support people not having good English language skills, or having an accent that makes it difficult to understand them' by exploiting technology developed for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as other accent reduction techniques."

The problem is that some underpaid officer will look at this and most likely stamp "approved". I don't think they are paid to think about "obvious" or "prior art".

What else is next for companies to try and patent?

My first experience with broadband that's a joke in New Zealand hotels

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Sep-2007 19:52

A few weeks ago I attended the Wellington Karajoz Great Blend, organised by Russell Brown of Public Address fame. The guest speaker was Mr Brown, a Singaporean blogger and podcaster who was insulted that his Wellington hotel limited his broadband access at 50 MB/day.

I've never come across this in New Zealand hotels ... until today.

I am here at SkyCity Grand Auckland, a five star hotel at $245 a night that charges $35/day for in-room broadband - with a 50 MB limit!

Everything over 50 MB is charged at $0.10 per megabyte.

This is a joke. I have stayed in hotels around the world and have never found such a limit...

I started my laptop, connected to my Exchange Server, downloaded my RSS feeds and I am already clocking 20 MB - in about 15 minutes.

How can anyone do business at 50 MB a day?

Ponoko starts at TechCrunch40

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Sep-2007 11:50

This is really good news for a New Zealand company: Ponoko has launched today during the TechCrunch40 event.

It's a really cool concept, and Dave ten Have explained a bit to me during the Kiwi Foo Camp back in February 2007. We actually ended up sharing a motel room on that unconference (this is probably my only claim to fame now that he's a big startup).

Ponoko is the first personal manufacturing platform. Using their website, people can invent and design new products, then have them made to order, or sell their designs to others.

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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