My window to the world

New Zealand Broadband: priority is Australia

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Jun-2007 12:07

Well said by Peter:

While multi-billion dollar proposals are on the table across the Tasman for the construction of a national fibre-to-the-node network, with our own Telecom joining the G9 proposal for an A$3.6 billion ($NZ4.1 billion) build-out, moves are also afoot to improve Australia's international capacity.

But as Juha at Geekzone points out, Telstra's planned 9000km fibre link between Australia and the US, which is to be built by French equipment maker Alcatel, won't link up New Zealand.

So here we have our largest telco chipping in to fibre Australia while its creaking infrastructure back home struggles to serve up broadband for our existing needs and our second-ranked telco TelstraClear is bypassing a fantastic opportunity to improve international bandwidth capacity for the country.

Telstra seemed like the ideal contender when it came to the prospect of a second cable crossing the Tasman. Now that looks like it is out of the question, are there any other players who would see a business case for laying a new cable?

Unlikely. It's yet another sign, the ditching of its Tauranga mobile network being the other, that Telstra isn't fully committed to the New Zealand market.

GPUGems 3

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Jun-2007 12:21

A friend of mine, Hubert Nguyen, has just pinged on Messenger to let me know about his latest work, GPUGems 3 - and it looks cool:

We are pleased to unveil the cover of the upcoming “GPU Gems 3” book. This image has been rendered in NVIDIA’s “Human Head” demo, which features Doug Jones, who recently starred as the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

The book will be in full color, hard cover, and will contain 41 chapters, including “Advanced Skin Rendering”, which explains how to render ultra-realistic characters. GPU Gems 3 will be released at SIGGRAPH 2007 but can already be pre-ordered.

According to Hubert, "... the book basically contains 41 GPU-related techniques - there's some rendering stuff, image processing, general purpose computing, physics."

More on New Zealand Daylight Saving Time changes

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jun-2007 17:05

I wrote about the New Zealand Daylight Saving Time changes before, and today the Department of Internal Affairs sent out this press release:

The Department of Internal Affairs has written to key IT providers reminding them about this year's change to daylight saving.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Rick Barker, announced in April that the period of daylight saving was being extended to 27 weeks.  From this year, daylight saving will start on the last Sunday in September and end on the first Sunday in April the following year.  Accordingly, the next period of daylight saving will start on Sunday 30 September 2007 (when 2:00am becomes 3:00am) and end on Sunday 6 April 2008 (when 3:00am becomes 2:00am). 

The only change is to the length of the period of daylight saving (daylight time).  Daylight time is still one hour in advance of New Zealand standard time, and in the Chatham Islands, daylight time is still one hour and 45 minutes in advance of New Zealand standard time. 

Deputy Secretary Keith Manch says IT providers will want to test their systems with the required changes before daylight saving commences on 30 September. 

"We will follow up with a reminder to the regulators of the key sectors affected by the change to daylight saving, such as health and banking, recommending that they contact their IT providers about changes to programmes and any testing needs they have," Keith Manch said.

So go on, please read my previous post about this issue. If you work in New Zealand, or your IT organisation is based here, or you have some IT infrastructure in this country you should be aware of this.

Netscape is alive with a new version

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jun-2007 11:42

Who would have thought that Netscape Navigator is still alive? The browser that started it all is available in a new version, incorporating social features such as sharing and voting for webpages, friends links and RSS feed support.

Want to have an insight on Netscape? Just read this bit about Netscape Navigator on Wikipedia:

Netscape Navigator, also known as Netscape, was a proprietary web browser that was popular during the 1990s. Once the flagship product of Netscape Communications Corporation and the dominant browser in usage share, its user base had almost completely evaporated by 2002, partly due to the inclusion of Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser with the Windows operating system, but also due to lack of significant innovation after the late 1990s.

Netscape wasn't the first browser, being inspired on Mosaic browser. But it was the one that made the world wide web popular.

Popular during the 90s! Back by popular demand? I don't think so. I remember using Netscape Navigator 1.0 (screenshot) on my Windows 3.11 for Workgroups install, back in 1995.

You can download old versions of Netscape as well on their archives, but only back to version 4.0.

My linkblog

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Jun-2007 14:40

I have now create a page for my linkblog. I will share interesting posts I find through my RSS feeds, but I don't have the time to post a complete comment - so I will simply tag it and share with you.

I will be "feeding" it while working through my feeds (which is probably half of my work day). So bookmark it and keep coming back.

There's no RSS feed for that yet, since it's a single page listing all those interesting articles. I will create a feed for that later.

Enjoy the reading!

Orange thinks that 30 MB of mobile data is unlimited

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Jun-2007 10:54

This is an early April's Fool joke, or what? Mobile operator Orange UK launched a new "flat rate" data package for "seasoned surfers who demand great value for all their mobile browsing". The flat rate costs only £8 (NZ$ 24).

Sounds too good to be true? It is. They fail to say this "flat rate" is limited to 30 MB/month!

That's right, 30 MB. This is  what Jean-Pascal Van Overbeke, Vice President Mobile & Convergence for Orange, says:

“Our new pricing structure makes it easy for our customers to understand exactly what they are getting and for how long when they access the mobile internet. Customers can get access to the web on the move, without the fear of being caught out by any hidden charges.”

What's more intreresting is that nowhere in the press release they say anything about the 30 MB limit, instead that's what it was distributed:

From June, five new bundles, starting from just £1, mean both Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go customers can browse safe in the knowledge they will know exactly how much they will pay. 

A joke? Customers know how much they pay for sure, but had no idea how much they were getting for their money.

True, nowhere they say "unlimited". But nowhere they place a limit. The way things are worded it sounded as it was unlimited. That's all.

No wonder people are already complaining. T-Mobile UK offers 1 GB/month for £7.50. Yes, 1 gigabyte for less than what Orange charges for 30 megabytes.

Welcome FTTH, Lithuania

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Jun-2007 18:27

Let's see these numbers before jumping into the news:

Lithuania: ex-URSS satellite republic, obtained its indepedence of a communist state in 1990, population 3.6 million, GPD US$57 billion, per capita US$ 15,100.

Slovenia: independence from Youguslavia in 1991, population 2 million, GDP US$ 44 billion, per capita US$ 25,500.

New Zealand: independent since 1907, population 4.1 million, GDP US$ 102 billion, per capita US$ 25,500.

What do Lithuania and Slovenia have that we don't have in New Zealand? FTTH. According to a post I found on GigaOM, TEO LT is jumping the (non-) existent copper and going directly to fiber:

Countries with little copper legacy are doing their best to bypass the centuries old access methodology and going straight to fiber, stringing it right to their citizens’ doorsteps. This is especially true in the case of smaller nations – like Slovenia and now Lithuania, one of the former Soviet republics.

This is from the TEO LT press release:

“The Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Project is one of the most important network modernisation projects of TEO. Over three years, we will invest more than LTL 100 million in the new optical access network. This strategic solution will enable us to meet the fast-growing customer needs for fast Internet access not only today, but also for many years to come“, - says Arūnas Šikšta, General Manager of TEO LT, AB.

The fiber-optic network, which is being installed by TEO, is a novelty both in Lithuania and in the majority of European countries. Usually, optical fibers are installed up to a multi-family apartment house’s inlet box, from which copper cables are installed to residential apartments. Due to their physical characteristics, such copper cables limit the speed of data communication. TEO will install optical fibers up to the user’s apartment (computer) – that will allow increasing the speed of services provided to the customer up to 1 Gbps.

Another advantage of the fiber-optic network is that, by using it, data can be both uploaded and downloaded at the same speed. It also ensures minimum delay, which is particularly important when using Internet chat applications, organizing video conferences or playing online network games.

TEO plans that the residents of the 5 biggest cities of Lithuania will be the first to use the advantages provided by the fiber-optic network, and in Vilnius the provision of fiber-optic Internet services will be launched already in June.

The LTL 100 million is equivalent to US$ 40 million, and they will roll out a network capable of 1 Gbps to home.

In the case of Slovenia, Telekom Slovenije, has launched a fiber to the home project that will get 50,000 Slovenian homes fiber-based broadband access by end of 2007.

I know the New Zealand terrain is very different from those other countries, but FTTH needs to start somewhere, and our population is concentrated in large citiies (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Palmerston North). Why not FTTH in these places first?

I know the Wellington City Council is out seeking comments on a broadband strategy plan. But isn't it late?

While this is happening overseas, New Zealand still fights the monopoly in copper. As I wrote before, I don't believe local loop unbundling is the solution. Why share old technology, instead of providing incentives for network providers to invest in deploying new technologies?

The way it is going to be implemented here, I can see all those providers trying to use the old copper, without investing a cent in new technologies, waiting for the incumbent Telecom New Zealand to come with their own solution, and then try to get the government to force Telecom to share their network.

Where's the incentive to investments?

Apple unveils iPhone ads and confirms 29 June launch

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Jun-2007 14:20

Apple has posted iPhone ads on its website. The ads also confirm 29th June 2007 as the launch date, for AT&T customers:

FeedDemon 2.5 + NGES = Google Reader

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Jun-2007 14:05

Old readers know I love NewsGator Enterprise Server (lots of posts here before about it). And I use FeedDemon 2.0 which makes for a slick combination - plus the mobile version that works really well in Internet Explorer Mobile and the Microsoft Exchange integration.

I've just read about FeedDemon 2.5 being released and downloaded the update. It looks great, and there are a couple of features I want to use, mainly the prefetch for offline reading and the Newsbin sharing, which now synchronises with NGES.

This is the theory. In practice it didn't work at all. I installed FeedDemon 2.5, it recognised my NGES host, and even created the Newsbin on the server. But that's all. None of my feeds (more than 600) synchronise either way, making it a futile exercise.

I tried installing on my Vista 32 bit machine, with the same result. Tried with a clean install, with the same result.

Now comes the thing: I've posted a request for help in the NewsGator Support Forum, but it appears there isn't a NewsGator Support person looking after the forum, so I have no answers for this problem, except for the few comments from the community. And the developer, Nick Bradbury, asks in his blog for all technical questions to be posted in the forums. Catch 22...

The idea I have for the Newsbin sharing is appealing for me: I read lots of stuff, and I would use FeedBurner to create a feed from my Newsbin and some applications to post this in a "link blog".

If this doesn't work then I will probably be moving all my feeds to Google Reader. Google Reader now uses Google Gears, a new framework that allows software to work offline.

UPDATE: As promised here in the comments I was contacted by NewsGator, and yes I need NGES 2.0 to use the new FeedDemon 2.5 features. I have downloaded NGES 2.0, but there was a problem installing the update, so the server is currently down. I've submitted screenshots to support - something related to date - perhaps date format (UK versus US)?

UPDATE: The date problem was related to the license file - US and NZ (UK) date formats. I also need to upgrade the Microsoft SQL database, so I will do this soon. Looking good now...

UPDATE: All sorted now. Installed Microsoft SQL Server 2005 SP1, got a new license file with correct date, and everything installed fine. FeedDemon 2.5 works fine with NGES 2.0 now. Installation took less than 10 minutes overall (not counting the Microsoft SQL Server 2005 update).

: Not so fast... FeedDemon 2.5 is playing up and won't synchronise with NGES 2.0. I've submited this to NGES support again, and in the meantime I am back to FeedDemon 2.0...


Mindjet MindManager 7 is out: mindmaps made easy

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Jun-2007 16:13

The guys at Mindjet have just released Mindjet MindManager 7. I was previously involved in the beta testing for Mindjet MindManager 5 and 6, mainly because I was using a tablet PC, and this is one of the first tools you want to install on a laptop or tablet PC (the other one is Microsoft OneNote).

Back to MindManager 7: I have just installed it and the first (nice) surprise was the user interface: Mindjet is the first company I see that fully implemented a Microsoft Office Ribbon-like user interface (officially named Microsoft Office Fluent User Interface). Check the screenshots below:

What else is in store with MindManager 7? MindManager Pro 7 includes integration capabilities with Microsoft Office products, new map styles and galleries for faster formatting, and enhanced ScreenTips. MindManager 7 Mac offers a new way to select topics with rules, which can be saved and applied as filters; printing enhancements that allow users to print large maps across multiple pages and add headers and footers and borders to printed maps; enhanced import and export capabilities including OPML, HTML, Text Outline and more.

I've used MindManager in its previous versions in many projects and personal tasks - great tool to organise things, clear ideas, brainstorm, etc.

UPDATE: Below is a screen shot with the ribbon clollapsed. You can do this by double-clicking on any menu option in the menu bar:

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!

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 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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