My window to the world

The downside of trusting third party to manage your services in the cloud

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Sep-2007 18:35

Microsoft and Google are big players in the hosted services area - with other good names in the space too, such as Zoho.

But what happens when things stop working?

Microsoft Windows Live Custom Domains is down. I can't get to it to administer domains. It's like the server simply doesn't exist. When I tried to find a support contact it was impossible. There's none. I visited Microsoft's website and clicked on Feedback. There's a huge list of Live services, but Windows Live Custom Domains is not there.

How can we get control of our domains back? A couple of redirects that use the Live Domains service are not working.

If a company relies on Live domains they would now be without access to this service for some time. And there's no contact point.

A friend pointed me to a URL where I could enter feedback to specific Windows Live Products. And this is what I got:

Your current language is English (New Zealand). Support for Windows Live Custom Domains is currently only available from the following list.

Seriously? hat is different in English (New Zealand) from English (Australia) or even English (United States)?

I am able to send feedback when I change my language to English (Australia), but then I get this:

Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. We appreciate your feedback and use it to help create better services and products. Unfortunately we cannot provide a personal response to your comments.

Hello!? Your service is down. We can't contact anyone, and if we do provide feedback you tell me you won't contact me back?

This kind of problem is what makes some companies walk, no, run away from hosted services. How can they trust a third party with their information, if the third party cannot be contacted in case of a fault?

We take some companies for granted, but we forget that in this age every service seems to be "beta". "Beta" doesn't mean "under expert testing" anymore. It means "we have a cool service but we can't guarantee it will work, because we keep tweaking it and breaking it".

UPDATE: The service is up, with a downtime of four hours, during which I couldn't contact anyone because I speak English (New Zealand).

The All Blacks demand iPhones

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Sep-2007 10:02

This is really good... The All Blacks demanding iPhone. In French.

AMD Quad-Core Opteron Conference Call

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Sep-2007 11:29

Early this morning (early in New Zealand, since the call was in the U.S Pacific timezone) I attended a conference call with AMD's Scott Carroll and John Fruehe. John is the marketing guy for Server and is directly involved with the AMD Quad-Core Opteron launch and marketing.

You can find a good review of this new processor at The Tech Report ("AMD's Quad-Core Opteron 2300 Processors"), but I'd like to share some of the slides I had access to and point to a few features that makes this a very interesting new platform for servers.

The first slide is just an overview of this new family of processors. The most interesting features are the AMD CoolCore Technology, for reducing energy consumption by turning off unused parts of the processor; the Independent Dynamic Core Technology, an enhancement to AMD PowerNow! technology, allowing each core to vary its clock frequency depending on the specific performance requirement of the applications it is supporting; and Dual Dynamic Power Management (DDPM), which provides an independent power supply to the cores and to the memory controller, allowing the cores and memory controllers to operate on different voltages, determined by usage. 

The Independent Dynamic Core Technology sound really promising. For comparison, on Intel processors all cores must run at the same speed, regardless of individual workload.

Also interesting is that AMD provides 512KB L2 cache for each core, and a shared 2MB L3 cache. They say this reduces possible bottleneck that could come from a single cache implementation.

AMD is heavily investing in virtualisation, and Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors come with Direct Connect Architecture, providing an integrated memory controller for reduced memory latency, and Rapid Virtualization Indexing, a new AMD innovation in AMD Virtualization technology designed to reduce the overhead associated with software virtualization. Rapid Virtualization Indexing takes functionality that was previously performed in software and accelerates it by performing those functions within the CPU.

The last slide is the introduction to Average CPU Power (ACP) metric, which represents processor power usage, including cores, integrated memory controller, and HyperTransport technology links, while running a suite of high utilization workloads to be more indicative of the power consumption that end-users can expect.

ACP is a useful metric for data center operators when estimating power budgets to size their datacenters.

Overall it was a good conference call, although lacking in the questions side - in my case I thought the presentation and slides provided a good coverage of new features and other information.

Mobile 2.0 Conference

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Sep-2007 19:24

The Mobile 2.0 Conference sounds cool. And it's even sponsored by Vodafone.

It's interesting seeing Vodafone sponsoring something in the U.S. where they are an almost unknown player, except for their (minority) participation on Verizon Wireless, one of the two main CDMA operators there...

Mac zealotry

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Sep-2007 19:05

I can empathyse with Rob May's "Viral Venom":

It raises a very interesting question for businesses. They all want word of mouth. Most companies would love to have the kind of dedicated customers that Apple has. But, what do you do when they love your product so much that they turn off other people. Seriously, I have very very negative feelings towards Macs right now. I went from thinking "I'll keep the Mac, and wait to give Vista a test drive before deciding what to buy down the road" to "I never want to give Apple another penny. I hope they go out of business so that these suckers can't get any more of their precious computers."

Several people commented on the rabid negativity in the comments. And it is likely some potential Mac purchasers were scared away by them. Regardless, it reflects very negatively on the Mac community. They come across like an unhelpful bunch that will mock you for not thinking like them. Which is odd, because the people I know personally that own Macs are always eager to give tips and help me navigate it.

As a business, you have to show how you are better than the competition. You want and appreciate when your customers are out there preaching for you, talking about the advantages of your product. But what do you do when an overzealous handful actually drive customers away? It's like sports - you want people to paint their faces and cheer for your team, but you don't want anyone fighting with the opponent's fans after the game because that reflects poorly on you.

I've experienced this before, and I really don't like the way some people call others names simply because of a technological choice.

And before you start, we have two iMacs here, as well as the Windows machines...

Halo 3 New Zealand launch

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Sep-2007 17:28

A birdie tells me something will happen in Auckland, 25 September from 6am through 10am:

A vast and mysterious alien object to land at QEII Square, Auckland.
All members of the Halo Army ordered to down weapons and bear witness. Recruits supporting this mission to be rewarded with the chance to win essential Halo 3 equipment. Latest intelligence suggests booty may include 40” Samsung LCD screens, cellular telephone equipment and a Halo 3 Xbox 360 console; however reports can neither be confirmed nor denied at this stage.

Is anyone going to the Auckland launch?

APNIC Annual Member Meeting 2008 in New Zaland

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Sep-2007 13:17

I just got an e-mail from the InternetNZ confirming it will be hosting a meeting of APNIC (Asia Pacific Network Information Centre) in August 2008.

The meeting will be held at the Christchurch Convention Centre from 26 – 29 August 2008.

A range of technical presentations, tutorials and special interest workshops focused on IP address allocation issues will be held. APNIC will also hold its annual member meeting at the same time.

Metro WiFi and Muni WiFi are different: RoamAD take

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Sep-2007 09:59

Just hot off my blog post about the Kordia Metro WiFi's website usability problems I got a phone call this morning from RoamAD CEO Martyn Levy. RoamAD is the company providing the infrastructure for the Kordia Metro WiFi service. They have also provided the same infrastructure to the Perth Metro WiFi service (PDF link).

It looks like he's jumping into a meeting with Kordia very soon and will bring some of my comments to it - regarding user experience on the site.

As for the service, it's still available in limited areas, but with an agressive roll out plan, with the aim to cover major New Zealand cities by 2010.

Martyn explained that the press release lists the service as available in Auckland and Taupo, while the Kordia website lists it in many more locations by saying that some of the locations (such as Wellington) are actually limited in scope and the site lists those for information only.

One important point Martyn made was about the business model used for this deployment. Kordia is entering the "Metro WiFi" service, which is a private (sort of, being a SOE) enterprise investing in a network infrastructure available where people congregate. So don't expect it to be your xDSL replacement anytime soon, but it will be available as a complement to the ubiquitous cellular data service.

The Metro WiFi model is very different from the Muni WiFi, where the second one is generally sponsored by towns and cities, with the intention of providing free (or cheap) Internet access to its citizens. This is the model some cities in the U.S. tried to implement, with the best known case being the San Francisco Muni Wifi, which has just lost its ISP, Earthlink:

Mayor Gavin Newsom's high-profile effort to blanket San Francisco with a free wireless Internet network died Wednesday when provider EarthLink backed out of a proposed contract with the city.

The contract, which was three years in the making, had run into snags with the Board of Supervisors, but ultimately it was undone when Atlanta-based EarthLink announced Tuesday that it no longer believed providing citywide Wi-Fi was economically viable for the company.

Martyn says this model is not sustainable and U.S. projects are in the wrong path.

To read a bit more about this check this RoamAD presentation. By the way, RoamAD is a New Zealand company.

Wouldn't you be sick of the mobile phone industry?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Sep-2007 08:03

This post on CrunchGear sums it up well:

I haven’t been privy to the private conversations of Steve Jobs, but listening to his keynote the other day, it’s difficult not to pick up on at least some antipathy the man seems to hold towards the entire mobile phone industry.

“Steve Jobs’ entire keynote was a series of middle fingers directed at AT&T and their carrier brethren,” says Sascha Segan, lead cell phone and PDA analyst at PC Magazine. “Notice that he dropped the iPhone’s price without mentioning AT&T; that he’s introducing the iPod Touch into Europe before the iPhone, which will depress iPhone sales there; and that he had a long chat with a Starbucks exec without once mentioning T-Mobile, who operate all of the Starbucks hotspots that he’ll be selling his music through. Never mind that the song he decided to demo on the iPod Touch was Beck’s ‘Cellphone’s Dead.’

Perhaps he is merely sharing the frustrations of millions of Americans fed up with carrier-locked phones, draconian contracts, poor customer service, and ludicrous fees, but it would appear that, a little more than two months after bringing Apple into the cell phone game, he is already sick of it.

Americans only? I doubt it. Mobile operators everywhere offer draconian contracts, poor customer service and ludicrous fees.

Kordia Metro WiFi

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Sep-2007 20:24

The state owned enterprise (read your tax dollars at work) Kordia launched a metropolitan Wi-Fi service in New Zealand called Kordia Metro WiFi.

While the press release says the service is avaialble in Auckland and Taupo only, their coverage maps lists Auckland, Wellington, Taupo, Hamilton, Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown... Who do we believe?

Then I tried to create an account. You enter the information requested (name, family name, email address, password, plan) and instead of having your account created you receive another page with errors - claiming you have not entered information (password hint, reason for using and where you are from) in fields that did not exist in the first form. Did anyone test their site before going live?

And when you finally create your account... Try loging in! You can't because your browser redirects to a 404 (not found).

C'mon folks, you succeeded in making it hard for users!

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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