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Did anyone see a massive RIM BlackBerry failure?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Apr-2007 21:20

I just found out a story from WNBC, Massive System Failure Affecting Blackberry Users. Apparently BlackBerry users in the Western hemisphere were not able to use their device for e-mail:

NewsChannel4 has learned of a massive system failure affecting all blackberry users in the western hemisphere.
The RIM Company, which stands for Research In Motion, developed blackberry technology and said its infrastructure failed around 8 p.m. Tuesday and has been down ever since.

E-mails are not being pushed to portable blackberry devices.

Officials with RIM said they are trying to reset the system and told NewsChannel4 that they are concerned that the backlog of data, which will rush through when it comes back on line, could cause a bigger problem.

17 April 8pm (EDT) would be 18 April 12 noon in (NZ). I wonder if this affected New Zealand or Australia. I will be contacting Vodafone New Zealand (or they can comment here) to find out more.

Interesting development for on-line security: pictorial secure sign on technology

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Apr-2007 10:16

This is an interesting development for security: a pictorial-based one-time password system, developed by Vidoop. The company describes the system this way:

Without requiring any additional hardware, the Vidoop login system provides the user with a method of receiving a one-time access code at the last moment, just in time for login.

The innovative system draws the user’s eye to the secret based on a personal selection made during the enrollment process. Instead of a password, each user chooses from a number of “categories,” like “airplanes,” “cars” or “keys.” At time of login, Vidoop displays an array of images including an airplane, a car, or a key, and several other unrelated images. Without knowledge of the secret, the display appears completely random to other observers.

The user spots the secret categories known only to him and notices a series of digits that act as the one-time access code. Since other observers do not know the user’s categories, they do not know which of the displayed access codes to use as the key. Only the user can interpret the one-time access code from the display.

What's more interesting is the company's beta site,, which provides integration with OpenID. The company also hosts a video showing how the solution works.

Google Presentations

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Apr-2007 08:10

This is very different from everything we've seen before: Google is announcing in advance they are working on Presentations, a natural follow-up to the Google documents and spreadsheet offerings on-line, currently complemented by Google Calendar (pictured) and Google Mail (GMAIL).

The technology is being developed by Tonic Systems, a company based in San Francisco and Melbourne, recently acquired by Google.

And to think that "Microsoft Office Live" is not the Microsoft Office package being offered on-line. What a bad branding decision. In the meantime Google is eating the pourridge from the edges.

What 3G was supposed to be (part III) or Intel new Ultra Mobile PC vision

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Apr-2007 09:00

You might remember a couple of posts here (Part I and Part II) in this blog with marketing movies used by mobile and infrastructure manufacturers (Nokia, Ericsson, British Telecom) from around 2000 and 2001, when those companies were trying to sell the idea of an ultra mobile future, based on 3G mobile data technologies, PDAs and smartphones. You should see those movies to compare with Intel's vision of the ultra mobile future below. Intel seems to be set to bring this future to us, well, in the future. According to Josh Bancroft at TinyScreenfuls, Intel will show its idea of a 2nd generation of Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) devices during the IDF in Beijing, next week. This is what Intel thinks the ultra mobile future could be:
What is really interesting is that this movie doesn't show anything more than what mobile manufacturers were proposing several years ago. Just the technology now has evolved to a point where this could be closer. But not too close. Remember when the first UMPC waves came out on the Internet, and people were promised US$500 devices with great battery life? We wound up getting US$2000 devices with poor battery life instead... By the way, if you watch my other posts (in special Part II) you will see the scenario is almost exactly the same.

Trade Me eight years

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Apr-2007 10:05

Last night my wife and I had the opportunity to attend the Trade Me 8th Anniversary party. The event was held at the Paramount Cinemas here in Wellington, and we were all treated to drinks, finger food, good music and a movie (including free jaffas).

The movie was the New Zealand made Black Sheep, a tale of horror and comedy, about some genetically modified sheep spreading terror in a New Zealand farm. Strange? You bet. But with some good New Zealand humour in that...

We had the chance to quickly chat with Trade Me's Rowan Simpson, who introduced us to Wayne Campbell, Managing Director of VIANET International, the company working with Trade Me to help the auction website enter the tourism space. Wayne and his business partner Vaughan explained a lot of the Trade Me deal, but nothing that isn't publicly available yet.

It is going to be interesting... Trade Me dominates the New Zealand Internet with almost 60% of the entire Internet traffic in this country, and they have virtually no competitors in auction, online car sales and now entering the online tourism space, the top area of interest for kiwis buying goods and services on-line.

When companies don't participate in conversations, or why Vodafone is locked out of Geekzone today

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Apr-2007 12:36

If you are inside Vodafone New Zealand's network today you will notice your access to Geekzone has been blocked.

So, how it happens that a large mobile operator such as Vodafone is locked out of the largest technology website in New Zealand?

Easy... Trolls. It seems some people inside that organisation don't understand criticism, and instead of engaging in a conversation decide that using a computer to anonymously post a comment calling someone "retard" is fine.

No, it's not fine. It's the corporate image that's hurt. You think you are anonymous, but now the entire organisation has an image problem.

Vodafone New Zealand has two ways of fixing things... One is bad, another is good:

1.Teach people inside the organisation to respect other people's opinions, and that what you say in public reflect on peoples' perception of the company, or

2.Tell everyone inside the company to never access Geekzone again, hurting the company's image even more, as one that's not interested in engaging with customers.

It sure shows that some people inside the organisation couldn't be smart enough to think of the consequences of trolling?

People love branding, but every one inside an organisation is part of the branding. And this is not the first time the Vodafone proxy server was blocked. The first time it was a surprise and I didn't know it was the company's main Internet access. But this time it wasn't a surprise.

UPDATE: Access has now been restored.

Xbox 360 Autumn Update: chat device, IM and more.

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

I've just got hold of a couple of pictures of the new Xbox 360 chat device and the Windows Live Messenger on Xbox 360. It looks really nice from here, even though I am not a keen console gamer (I prefer the PC-based games).

The cool stuff about this new feature is that gamers will be able to connect to other Windows Live Messenger users, regardless of those friends being connected from other Xbox 360 console, a PC or a Windows Mobile device. The chat feature allows up to six people to be added to a conversation.

The service will be available from 7 May 2007, with the Xbox Autumn Update (hey it's Autumn in the south). Users with Gold and Silve membership will be able to access the service, and it include video, voice and text chat.

After receiving the pictures I asked for the official press release, and I found out more features coming soon:

• A richer Achievement notification pop-up will showcase the name of the unlocked Achievement and the gamerscore value without needing to leave the game to check the Achievements list.
• Enhanced family settings features for Xbox LIVE communications enable different defaults for video chat and voice chat.
• A new Xbox LIVE Marketplace blade lets Xbox LIVE members access the content they seek from one place on Xbox LIVE.
• Updates to Xbox LIVE Arcade allow owners to quickly see which Xbox LIVE Arcade games their friends are playing and join in the fun. Xbox LIVE members can also compare progress of leaderboard scores and Achievements directly with all friends on their friends list. Expanded ‘Tell a Friend’ capabilities make it easier than ever to boast about Achievements and high scores.
• A new option in Auto Downloads provides faster access to the entire collection of free, trial-version Xbox LIVE Arcade games.
• New progressive download controls provide easy access to optimal viewing options by letting people fast-forward, rewind, pause and resume as their video is downloaded from Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
• Extension of the background download functionality will allow owners to set their Xbox 360 console to turn off automatically after downloads are complete.

The chat device should be in the stores soon.

Norton 360 giveaway

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Apr-2007 14:34

If you are interested in a free copy of Symantec's new Norton 360, head on to Geekzone and enter the competition.

We have three copies of Symantec Norton 360 to give away - and you can install each copy in up to three PCs - complete security for all your Windows-based computers at home.

New Zealand cheapest mobile data in the world?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Apr-2007 11:48

If you look at the following chart found through this post it looks like:

The original post talks about the costs of mobile data in Canada, and who to contact about this. I am just posting the image here because it shows how we compare with other countries.

It is an interesting chart, and the author lists links to the mobile operators to support these prices. I just hope Vodafone and Telecom don't come together saying "See, we offer great prices", instead of "See, we can do better"...

Note that this chart lists Vodafone New Zealand only, but Telecom New Zealand offers similar data plan.

Testing the Sony Ericsson M600i

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Apr-2007 19:10

You might remember a few months ago I posted about the last Symbian UIQ device leaving this home (due to a fall). That Sony Ericsson P800 did a great job, but it was a bit tired, and the software obsolete.

Thanks to a Geekzone reader working at First Mobile, I managed to get in contact with Sony Ericsson New Zealand and I have just received a Sony Ericsson M600i for testing.

I plan to have it running for a month, in parallel with my usual Windows Mobile devices. So far the experience has been good. The Symbian UIQ has been updated lots, but still not that different from the old Sony Ericsson P800 so still easy to use. I do think it's a bit confusing though, but not that much.

The keypad is easy to use after a couple of hours working through it, and having a free copy of DataViz RoadSync with the handset doesn't hurt either.

With DataViz RoadSync it's possible to enable Direct Push ActiveSync on this handset, and it synchronising over the air with my Exchange mailbox (e-mail, calendar, contacts), including push e-mail.

Installing my self-signed certificate was a breeze, unlike the Windows Mobile Smartphone experience, where devices are so locked down that it's impossible to install a self-signed certificate without hacking the device or a firmware update.

The e-mail client only shows a limited set of folders though. It may not be enough for my needs (I have rules on the server moving messages automatically) but I am sure the other users here at home won't complain.

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.

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