My window to the world

The Vodafone free broadband plan...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Aug-2007 21:19

It appears this coming Sunday Vodafone New Zealand and its ISP IHUG will announce a new "broadband" plan.

The way I heard the story (and so far it's a rumour) it's an entry level offer, where customers sign for a plan paying a NZ$40 monthly phone line rental, and if you use NZ$20 or more in toll calls then you will have 1 GB (gigabyte) "free" for that month.

Now, I have to question if there will be enough "broadband" for everyone, or we would see another "Xtra unleashed" fiasco.

If I recall correctly (damn, I've sent this month's Unlimited magazine to the "archives" already) Russell Stanners, Vodafone New Zealand CEO, commented on an interview that he agrees IHUG's previous owners didn't invest much in infrastructure. Please correct me if you have the magazine handy to verify this.

Would this be the reason why IHUG's sending out e-mails to customers on its "unlimited" plan informing that "unlimited" now is actually limited in terms of speed?

This is, according to some users in our forums, the e-mail:


We hope you're loving your broadband with ihug!

We've had lots of feedback about making our broadband 3 fair use policy easier to understand...

And that's just what we've done, so we wanted to give you a quick update (as per our terms and conditions)!

Gone are the days of rolling averages and slower speeds if you ever use more than 500 MB in a day - our new broadband 3 policy is much simpler.

How does the new fair use policy work?

From September 3rd, 2007 you'll be able to do more online each day without being slowed down!

That's because we've increased the fair use policy to 2GB a day (in other words, 2 full length movies or around 400 songs). If you do happen to download more than 2GB on a day, you'll simply surf at 64kbps for a day - no more confusing calculations to make!

Our new fair use policy also makes sure a few 'enthusiastic' people don't spoil things for everyone else by using unreasonable amounts of data - so if someone uses more than 20GB a month, their speed will be reduced to 64kbps for the rest of that month. (If you happen to be one of the few that use more than this each month, broadband 3 probably isn't the best plan for you - click here to check out our other plans with up to 60GB of data!)

Click here to find out more about the new fair use policy.

We hope this makes your broadband 3 plan easier to manage so you can enjoy your time online without any hassles!


So if you download 2GB in a single day, then your speed is limited to 64 Kbps the next day and if you use 20 GB in a month you can still enjoy yor unlimited allowance, but throttled to a 64 Kbps connection for the rest of that month.

Perhaps these limitations will allow for a bit more bandwidth for the 1GB/month users?





GPU Gems 3 is out!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Aug-2007 19:53

Hubert Nguyen, a friend of mine who works at NVIDIA, told me his latest book GPU Gems 3 has just been released:



This third volume of the best-selling GPU Gems series provides a snapshot of today’s latest Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) programming techniques. The programmability of modern GPUs allows developers to not only distinguish themselves from one another but also to use this awesome processing power for non-graphics applications, such as physics simulation, financial analysis, and even virus detection—particularly with the CUDA architecture. Graphics remains the leading application for GPUs, and readers will find that the latest algorithms create ultra-realistic characters, better lighting, and post-rendering compositing effects.

Major topics include

  • Geometry
  • Light and Shadows
  • Rendering
  • Image Effects
  • Physics Simulation
  • GPU Computing

About the author: Hubert Nguyen, Manager of Developer Education at NVIDIA, is a graphics engineer who worked in the NVIDIA Demo Team before moving to his current position. His work is featured on the covers of GPU Gems (Addison-Wesley, 2004) and GPU Gems 2 (Addison-Wesley, 2006).

.




Pill pusher spammer gets 30 years in federal prison

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Aug-2007 14:46

Just minutes after I wrote about a stupid idiot New Zealand guy who thinks spamming forums is ok and he's "disappointed" we deleted his posts, I read Spyware Sucks reporting of a U.S. spammer who got sentenced to 30 years in a PMITA federal prison:


Notorious spammer Christopher "Rizler" Smith was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a federal judge on Wednesday.

US District Judge Michael Davis called Smith a "drug kingpin" before throwing the book at him. Smith was convicted on charges of conspiracy, illegal distribution of drugs, money laundering and operating a continuing criminal enterprise."

"Under the spam companies Burnsville Internet and Xpress Pharmacy Direct, Smith allegedly sent more than one billion emails through America Online. The FBI claims he made approximately $18m


The original story is on The Register.

As someone noted on the comment in my previous post, spammers keep doing it because people buy from them.

And as noted by Spyware Sucks's Sandi, this is $18 million in a year, from a single spammer! How many people read spam and actually buy the crap this people sell? No surprise then that a lot of people also get sucked into other scams.

People, don't buy from spammers. What they sell won't enlarge anything, make you stronger, and you are not approved for a cheap home loan either. And no one left money in your name, and no dead African President left money for hist PA to distribute to you. Get a life people!



Forum spammers: begone

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Aug-2007 13:55

Last week someone registered on Geekzone just to post a reply in our Geekzone forums, shamelessly plugging his own on-line store selling some under quality goodies.

Of course the post was deleted and the user blocked.

Today I've got an e-mail from said user asking why his IP was blocked. I replied that spamming is not allowed and it won't be unlocked.

He then replied with this "sorry, I didn't know answering someone's question was spam. I am disappointed".

It is spam when you reply with loads of links to your own business. If you want advertising, we are happy to offer you an option, charging for the space used.

He was disappointed?

I am disappointed. Actually I shouldn't be, because how many people think the Internet is a "free for all" land?

A lot of people think that everything on the Internet should be free - free content, free links to their businesses.

How wrong they are.

They seem to forget there are costs involved in running a web site, producing content, keeping an infrastructure.

What a bunch of clowns.




Fake Steve Jobs busted: end of the fun blogging times?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Aug-2007 10:37

This is really sad. One of the most read, influential bloggers in the Silicon Valley, Fake Steve Jobs was exposed by a New York Times reporter, not a fellow blogger:



Well it had to happen. Honestly I can't believe it's taken this long. But as you may have heard, I've been busted by a newspaper reporter. My cover has been blown. Guy named Brad Stone, who works for the New York Times. Have you heard of him? Well, tip of the hat to you, Brad Stone. You did the sleuthing. You put the pieces of the puzzle together. You went through my trash, hacked into my computer, and put listening devices in my home. Now you've ruined the mystery of Fake Steve, robbing thousands of people around the world of their sense of childlike wonder. Hope you feel good about yourself, you mangina. 


But FSJ, I mean Forbes's Senior Editor Daniel Lyons, says he will be back, now with the Forbes behind it:


Apple faithful, here in our darkest hour I know what you're thinking: What's next for FSJ? Well, I'm taking a few days off to sit in a lake and do some yoga and meditation and non-thinking. Then I'm coming back next week, badder than ever, with a new sponsor -- my homeboys at Forbes.com. Turns out they've been reading FSJ and liking it too. Who knew?



Daniel Lyons, according to the New Yor Times, is preparing to publish a book about... Steve Jobs:


Mr. Lyons writes and edits technology articles for Forbes and is the author of two works of fiction, most recently a 1998 novel, “Dog Days.” In October, Da Capo Press will publish his satirical novel written in the voice of the Fake Steve character, “Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs, a Parody."

Unlike the off-the-cuff ramblings on his blog, “Options” is a well-plotted satire that imagines Apple’s chief executive grappling with his real-life stock option backdating troubles and getting help, and bad advice, from friends like Larry Ellison, Bono and Al Gore.



Who knew indeed?



Mobile Number Portability...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Aug-2007 11:22

I agree with Taniwha... Why do the New Zealand mobile operators offer their new plans with contract (12 and 24 month contracts) only?

To lock you in? How bad of them. They not only lock you in, but lock you out.

I am really, really trying to port my Vodafone New Zealand number over to Telecom New Zealand. I have been a Vodafone New Zealand customer for almost ten years now, and I don't have a contract, so I am free to move to another operator.

But there's no way to move to another operator on their new plans without signing up for at least a 12 month contract. And I am on account, which means a good amount of money every month for those operators.

It means Telecom New Zealand is not getting my business, as much as I want to leave the Vodafone New Zealand ranks.

It is the same if you are on Telecom New Zealand and want to move to Vodafone New Zealand, as Taniwha found out.

How dumb of them.





Joost RSS feeds?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Jul-2007 09:24

Look at the number of channels on Joost... It's just hard to go through all channels and find content you are interested on.

Enters OnTheToob. The site provides a current list of providers and programs, plus Joost RSS feeds with new content and channels.

Worth adding to your RSS feed reader.



Laptops can be jealous, according to Nokia

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jul-2007 11:56

If you go around with a Nokia N95, beware of rabid laptops. Jealous computers are not unheard of, according to Nokia (and some of the videos are quite funny actually):



Keeping your PCs in sync is not easy

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Jul-2007 11:01

Today I had yet another bad experience while trying to keep multiple PCs in sync...

I have a laptop and a UMPC here, plus a server. My idea is to have the UMCP always up-to-date (it's always on) with the latest changes I do on my laptop, so I could just grab it and go...

And before the UMPC arrived here the idea was to have an automated backup to the server.

So it was really a two way sync until now: the laptop is the master, and the server only receives updates (since I don't use it for work). Files are stored on a 1TB external drive on the server, which is automatically synchronised to a second drive on the same machine.

This has worked ok so far, but I didn't manage to get it to be "automatic", always requiring a manual kick start. With the UMPC I wanted to establish a two-way sync with the laptop, because I could work on the (more) mobile device. But it failed miserably so far.

The bad experience? BeInSync deleted files. Lots of them. Files that were present in both the laptop and the UMPC, but the software decided to delete them. I am not happy of course.

Here's what I tried and what failed:

Memeo AutoSync: it works great if you are synchronising drives and folders in the same machine and it does it automatically (that's what I am using on the server to sync the 1TB drive to the other external drive).

However I've noticed some deletes not happening on the destination andI wouldn't recommend using it on a mapped drive: every time I tried it will work for a while, but it will come with "Drive not available", even if I can happily open Windows Explorer and browse the drive. Most of the times the "Restart Service" option doesn't restart the scanning, and when it does it simply uses so much resources rescaning everything that I just gave up on this software.

Foldershare: it works ok, but limits a set to 10,000 files. I have way more than this in My Documents. It will do the synchronisation automatically, but the file limit is a kller.

Microsoft Office Groove 2007: great collaboration tool. Shame the Folder Synchronisation doesn't work on 64 bit operating systems. Did the folks at Microsoft realise there are lots of people running Windows Vista 64 bit now?

BeInSync: this was a great promise that failed to deliver, It provides synchronisation between folders, folder sharing to friends, web access. And it does it automatically.

It would be great if it wasn't for a few things: it seems to "forget" to do things and then you have a big backlog. It is really slow between PCs even on the same LAN. It's sometimes non-responsive. And it deleted a lot of my files which were not deleted in any of the sides of the sync, which is why I am now restoring a backup. It messed up so much that I can't just copy a few files back, but have to restore the entire thing.

Laplink PCSync: it's a good promise, tried it once and it worked ok. Best thing is the client-server configuration, so you can synchronise things over a private network, even while away from home or office. However it must be run on a logged session, which means leaving your computer logged in all the time - a pain.

GoodSync: another good one, but alas it will only work in manual mode and requires quite a lot of interaction.

The next two are not synchronisation solutions, but help:

HandyBackup: This is a backup software that also has a synchronisation option, which works really well, but again it's manual or on schedule, not "hot synchronisation".

It's really a good software and I use it on the Geekzone server to backup files every night, after the database backup runs.

Carbonite: this is an on-line backup tool. It works well and it's a "hot backup", it claims unlimited (fair use) storage on the cloud, but it won't backup all your files. First it won't backup files larger than 2GB (I have a couple of virtual machines I want copied off site but can't) and won't backup any .exe files (what about all the installers for the programs I buy on-line? I need a copy of those!)

But Carbonite won't synchronise devices - it's only a backup solution. But it's Carbonite who was here to allow me to restore files I've changed in the last two days since my last full backup to the server.

Windows Home Server: great software, it can automatically backup (not synchronise) your PC to the server, keeping everything tidy and central. But Microsoft failed to deliver a 64 bit client and it may not have one until v2 comes out sometime in the future.

So, really, it's hard to find a decent solution for this problem...






I am writing an Unofficial Tech Ed Blog

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Jul-2007 17:19

Just a heads up that I will be attending the Microsoft Tech Ed New Zealand 2007 in Auckland, and I am writing the Unofficial Tech Ed Blog.

I will be keeping the blog up-to-date, posting with the latest information on this event (the largest tech event in New Zealand), and having some guest bloggers posting their impressions as well.

I have setup a special SMS auto-reply using the 842.co.nz service, that will provide you with the latest information on this event, updated twice a week until the event, when I will try and update throughout the day.

If you are attending the event and want to write as a guest blogger (before and during the event), or if your company is showing or sponsoring sessions, or if you are presenting a session, please let me know, and I will try to get as much information as possible to post in that blog.

If you are a Microsoft MVP attending the sessions, please let me know.



freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
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 freitasm@geekzone.co.nz. 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.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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