My window to the world

Seybold's tell it like it is

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-May-2007 21:08

Andrew Seybold blog's tagline is "Tell it like it is", and this is what he's to say about his recent trip to New Zealand, when I had the opportunity to chat with him about some of the local capabilities:

There are two wireless operators in New Zealand: New Zealand Telecom and Vodafone NZ. Telecom runs a CDMA network with EV-DO Rev A, and Vodafone runs a GSM/UMTS network. The government is thinking about taking some of their spectrum away and re-auctioning it to encourage more competition, but I’m not sure that a country with a population of 4 million can sustain more wide-area voice and data networks. It is also getting ready to auction spectrum in the 2.3-GHz band, and while that spectrum is not being tied to a specific technology, the interest, as you might surmise, is mainly from companies that would like to roll out WiMAX. The usual misleading information about the capabilities of WiMAX preceded me to New Zealand and, of course, I had a few words to say about its true capabilities.

As I mentioned, the big discussion is how to get broadband to everyone in New Zealand, no small feat. They understand that simply building a network or combination of networks is not enough and that they have to educate the population about broadband access and why it is important to all of them

How true...

Live Search for RIM BlackBerry

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-May-2007 09:38

A quick note to our readers using RIM BlackBerry devices (and other J2ME mobile phones): you can now download a beta version of Live Search for mobile compatible with RIM BlackBerry devices!

The main page for Live Search for mobile contains information about the software, what it does and more. Originally developed for Windows Mobile devices, you can now use it with J2ME clients - which means almost any mobile phone these days.

Even if you don't have a compatible handset, it is still possible to search by sending a SMS (only in the U.S. though).

With the client on your handset you can get maps, traffic information, local information and search. Go check it out.

IT and New Zealand Daylight Savings update

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-May-2007 10:48

Prepare your IT department folks, we don't have much time now - and ask your friendly OS supplier to update their OS. New Zealand is changing its Daylight Saving Time period from 2007.

Like the U.S. did this year with its Energy Policy Act of 2005, New Zealand is also changing the DST, according to the Department of Internal Affairs:

New Zealanders will have three weeks more daylight saving from 30 September this year following the decision by the Labour-led Government to extend the period to 27 weeks, Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker announced today.

Clocks will go forward an hour a week earlier than usual - on the last Sunday in September- and back an hour on the first Sunday in April, instead of the third Sunday in March. This is the first change in daylight saving since 1990.

“The earlier start will also avoid clashing with the start of the fourth school term, which has caused disruptions for schools and families in the past. However more broadly over the longer term we will also be monitoring the effects on other parts of the economy, such as the energy sector, to see if there are long term sustainable benefits.

“Part of this ongoing monitoring will include the Department of Internal Affairs actively engaging in research that identifies potential positive and sustainable impacts experienced by other territories that have extended their daylight saving regimes,” said Rick Barker.

Rick Barker directed the Department of Internal Affairs to review daylight saving following public debate generated by Nelson City Councillor Mark Holmes in March 2006. Mr Holmes and United Future leader Peter Dunne recently presented a petition to Parliament on this issue.

“The Department of Internal Affairs will now work with computer companies and industries to update operating systems incorporating the time changes before the start of daylight saving,” Rick Barker said.

Daylight saving for 2007-08 will start at 2am on 30 September 2007 and end at 3am on 6 April 2008.

Now, "include the Department of Internal Affairs actively engaging in research that identifies potential positive and sustainable impacts experienced by other territories that have extended their daylight saving regimes" should really include reading the conclusions that extending the U.S. DST did not provide any benefit in terms of energy savings (Ars Technica, Reuters):

As it turns out, the US Department of Energy (and almost everyone else except members of Congress) was correct when they predicted that there would be little energy savings. This echoed concerns voiced after a similar experiment was attempted in Australia. Critics pointed out a basic fact: the gains in the morning will be offset by the losses at night, and vice-versa, at both ends of the switch. That appears to be exactly what happened.

Reuters spoke with Jason Cuevas, spokesman for Southern Co. power, who said it plainly: "We haven't seen any measurable impact." New Jersey's Public Service Enterprise Group said the same thing: "no impact" on their business.

There's an economical impact though, and this comes from all those technology-based businesses and tools that need to have their processes, computers, instruments adapted with all the potential for trouble.

For example, is anyone from Microsoft on the ball working on this update for all their operating systems? Remember, as I posted before, ANZ still uses Windows 2000 Professional.

And what about people using Windows Mobile devices? They never got the New Zealand DST right anyway, and I received e-mails from people at Telecom who had CxO level people missing flights because the timezone on their Pocket PCs were not changing on time with their Exchange Servers (and no this is not a Telecom problem, it happens with any Windows Mobile when synchronising with Exchange Servers during the first and last week of New Zealand DST).

This problem was reported to Microsoft many times, but I've never seem a fix - impossible they said. But when the U.S. changed their DST a fix came for them. Very convenient, right?

Do you run Java applications in your infrastructure? Check out Sun's explanation on how Java applications can be affected byt DST:

The United States has planned a change to its DST observance beginning in 2007. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandates that DST will start on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November. In 2007, the start and stop dates will be March 11 and November 4, respectively. These dates are different from previous DST start and stop dates. In 2006, the dates were the first Sunday in April (April 2, 2006) and the last Sunday in October (October 29, 2006).

Some countries are still evaluating whether they will adopt the new rules for themselves. You should anticipate more changes in DST and time zone rules for countries that typically align with U.S. DST rules.

The Java Runtime Environment (JRE) stores rules about DST observance all around the globe. Older JREs will have outdated rules that will be superseded by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. As a result, applications running on an older JRE may report incorrect time from March 11, 2007 through April 2, 2007 and from October 29, 2007 through November 4, 2007.

So, did the New Zealand government take in consideration the monumental task IT departments have ahead of them now? Analysing, coding, testing, deploying, testing DST changes?

What sectors would be impacted? Tourism, telecommunications, broadcasting, distribution channels. Anything with a computer.

Let's just hope people have already started working on this, because September 2007 is just around the corner from now.

How much (in GB) is your monthly bandwidth usage?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-May-2007 13:36

If you are here in New Zealand check this discussion that Tony Hughes, one of our Geekzone moderators, started:

What's your usage figures lookin' like?

The thread is just a list of how much bandwidth people consume - and I've seen extreme cases such as 600 MB/month through 60 GB/month (my own is about 46 GB month).

So, why don't you join the discussion and post your numbers there?

Internet access for travellers in New Zealand's South Island

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-May-2007 12:53

Interesting post by Jon Udell:

Notwithstanding my rationalization the other day, you’ll certainly want to bring your camera. You might reasonably opt to leave your laptop home, though, because Internet access from hotels here is a comedy of errors. The most absurd moment came last night when I checked into a hotel in Christchurch. I bought an access card for the WiFi service for $10, scratched it to reveal the access code, and…it smudged completely! I could not believe it! This card has only one purpose in life — to reveal a string of hex digits — and it cannot even manage to do that. Incredible!

Right, this is another example that shows that all the talk about our broadband infrastructure is still in early stages. We talk about fiber to the premises and mesh wi-fi, but it seems people forget about business needs. What about wireless access at airports (fair enough, the Wellington airport now offers free wi-fi in the main area)? What about the Auckland airport, our gateway to the world?

And what about hotels? I've been to some hotels here in New Zealand and Internet access seems to be last thing they think off. My parents-in-law spent a week in Queenstown in a posh place, and they only had access to dial-up - incredibly stupid idea, seeing that people visiting New Zealand coming from overseas will not have dial-up accounts in this country.

About Jon's trip to Wellington (before going to the South Island), he was attending the GOVIS conference, a very exclusive forum for companies or individuals that:

- [They] are part of the New Zealand Defence Force
- [They] are the New Zealand Police Force
- [They] are the New Zealand Parliamentary Service
- [They] are the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service
- [They] are the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau
- [They] are the Reserve Bank of New Zealand
- [They] are the Office of the Clerk
- [They] are the Parliamentary Counsel Office
- [They] are an Office of Parliament

If you want to know what Jon talked about during his keynote at GOVIS, check his post "Shared Navigation of online bureaucracies":

In my talk on Friday at the GOVIS (government information systems) conference in Wellington, I wasn’t the only one to suggest that web 2.0 attitudes will change the relationship between governments and citizens. That notion now seems to be pretty firmly established, and the question is not whether citizens will collaborate with their governments, but rather how.

Among other developments, I think we’ll soon see a refreshing new approach to the consumption of government services. A couple of weeks ago at Berkeley’s school of information I met Anna Kartavenko, one of Bob Glushko’s graduate students, She’s working on ways to make the byzantine California regulatory apparatus more accessible. If you’re starting a business in that state, it’s really hard to figure out which licenses you need to apply for, as well as how (and in what order) to apply for them.

I didn't even know this thing existed... Jon Udell now works for Microsoft. Gotta go and subscribe to his feed now.

The perils of search engines in the wrong hands

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-May-2007 15:42

Last weekend I was talking to friends about the risk of search engines releasing information - any information - about your searches on-line, and unintended consequences, such as insurance companies changing the premium on your life insurance based on knowing that you have searched for information on a known disease.

This was an interesting discussion because it was timely. What if a person searching on you is not qualified to assess the value or quality of the information retrieved?

Andrew Feldmar, a Vancouver psychotherapist, was on his way to pick up a friend at the Seattle airport last summer when he ran into a little trouble at the border.

A guard typed Mr. Feldmar’s name into an Internet search engine, which revealed that he had written about using LSD in the 1960s in an interdisciplinary journal. Mr. Feldmar was turned back and is no longer welcome in the United States, where he has been active professionally and where both of his children live.

Mr. Feldmar, 66, has a distinguished résumé, no criminal record and a candid manner.

This is not the first time I read about border guards searching people's names on Google and deciding to turn the visitor away based on those results. But what if someone has been the victim of a Google Bomb?

Things to remember: keyboards don't like coffee

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-May-2007 11:19

I've been using computers for longer than 25 years now... And this is the first time it happened: coffee spill!

Note to self: keyboards don't like coffee spills.

Off to get a replacement for my Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000. And I am really tempted to get a Logitech slim keyboard.

Life in prison for Attempted Copyright Infringement?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-May-2007 10:12

As would say "After solving all problems", the guys froms the lobby groups (MPAA, RIAA) and the U.S. Attorney General, seem to have lost the plot, according to CNET:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is pressing the U.S. Congress to enact a sweeping intellectual-property bill that would increase criminal penalties for copyright infringement, including "attempts" to commit piracy.

"To meet the global challenges of IP crime, our criminal laws must be kept updated," Gonzales said during a speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington on Monday.

The Bush administration is throwing its support behind a proposal called the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007, which is likely to receive the enthusiastic support of the movie and music industries, and would represent the most dramatic rewrite of copyright law since a 2005 measure dealing with prerelease piracy.

Here's our podcast on the topic.

The IPPA would, for instance:

* Criminalize "attempting" to infringe copyright. Federal law currently punishes not-for-profit copyright infringement with between 1 and 10 years in prison, but there has to be actual infringement that takes place. The IPPA would eliminate that requirement. (The Justice Department's summary of the legislation says: "It is a general tenet of the criminal law that those who attempt to commit a crime but do not complete it are as morally culpable as those who succeed in doing so.")

* Create a new crime of life imprisonment for using pirated software. Anyone using counterfeit products who "recklessly causes or attempts to cause death" can be imprisoned for life. During a conference call, Justice Department officials gave the example of a hospital using pirated software instead of paying for it.

* Permit more wiretaps for piracy investigations. Wiretaps would be authorized for investigations of Americans who are "attempting" to infringe copyrights.

* Add penalties for "intended" copyright crimes. Certain copyright crimes currently require someone to commit the "distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period of at least 10 copies" valued at more than $2,500. The IPPA would insert a new prohibition: actions that were "intended to consist of" distribution.


I will stop here... It's too much bull stuff coming out of there. I mean, they have other pressing issues at the moment, such as a whole war going on, unemployement, internal medical aid and more. And they propose life for copyright infringement? Wholy... The values are distorted somehow somewhere...

China launches Nigerian satellite

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-May-2007 22:59

According to the BBC, China has launched a Nigerian satellite, to provide broadcasting and broadband services to African nations.

How many more 419 scam e-mails will be landing in your inbox from now on?

A killer application for mobile: aangel

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-May-2007 22:35

I first saw and used Aangel in May 2004. You can read my brief review with a couple of screenshots, published back then.

In short it's a service that allows you to call a number from your mobile phone, dictate a task, reminder, contact details or appointment and have the information sent to your mobile as a SMS - and the SMS can also come as a vcal or vcard attachment so it's automatically entered on your phone's database. You also receive an e-mail with a wave file and your recording, for the records.

Just now I read that Jott has received some funding. Jott seems to be very similar to aangel, except that it doesn't seem to send the SMS, but it allows jotted messages to be sent to yourself, or to a group.

Aangel is just another example of mobile services that are developed outside the U.S. but are not known outside their original market.

I first noticed Jott on Scobble's "Killer app for cell phones: Jott" post.

By the way, I hear Aangel is in negotiations with Telecom New Zealand. They currently offer the service only to Vodafone customers, but they may extend access to the service to Telecom users as well. Stay tuned.

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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