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The OLPC at 2007 International CES

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jan-2007 19:45

While visiting the Marvell Technology Group's stand at the 2007 International CES I had the opportunity to see and briefly use the OLPC (One Laptop per Child), Nicholas Negroponte's brainchild. The OLPC was made famous when the developers made an objective of creating a US$100 laptop for children, mainly in third world countries.

The following from the Wikipedia entry on OLPC:

The rugged and low-power computers will contain flash memory instead of a hard drive and will use Linux as their operating system. Mobile ad-hoc networking will be used to allow many machines Internet access from one connection.

The laptops will be sold to governments and issued to children by schools on a basis of one laptop per child. Pricing is currently expected to start at around US$135-140 and the goal is to reach the US$100 mark in 2008. One thousand working prototypes were delivered in late 2006 and full-scale production is expected to start in mid-2007.

Marvell (famous for acquiring the XScale technology from Intel in 2006) is responsible for a couple of items in the bill of materials for this laptop, including the wireless networking components.

The device is interesting, but I am not sure about the "rugged" part of its description. It did feel fast enough for browsing the Internet and loaded and rendered Geekzone without any problems. The chiclet keyboard seemed responsive, but I am not sure how comfortable fast typing would be on that.

Alas I couldn't use it for more than a couple of minutes, and even so I am told things can still change since this was an engineering sample only. Check some of the pictures:

Pimp my ride 2007 CES Style (Part 3)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jan-2007 14:54

This is a collection of all cars around the 2007 International CES in Las Vegas. Because of the number of pictures I've separated this entry in four posts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Pimp my ride 2007 CES Style (Part 2)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jan-2007 14:53

This is a collection of all cars around the 2007 International CES in Las Vegas. Because of the number of pictures I've separated this entry in four posts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Pimp my ride 2007 CES Style (Part 1)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jan-2007 14:51

This is a collection of all cars around the 2007 International CES in Las Vegas. Because of the number of pictures I've separated this entry in four posts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Communications: plan A, plan B, plan C

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Jan-2007 15:06

I made it to Los Angeles (LAX) on my way to Las Vegas to attend the Microsoft Windows Vista Lab and the 2007 CES. And the new laptop Acer Ferrari 5000 made it too. You see, DHL managed to deliver the box just 90 minutes before I left to the airport.

I got here and start trying my "communications plan". But so far the only thing working is the T-Mobile WiFi Hotspot... Keep reading:

- The Vodafone Treo 750v: disappointment. I turned the radio on, and it showed I am roaming on Cingular. I can send and receive SMS, but that's it. I can't place or receive phone calls! If I try I receive a "Network Busy" message on the Phone application. I noticed a girl sitting next to me during the terminal change and asked her if she was using Cingular (what a line, right?). She was, so I thought it could be only a problem when calling overseas... So I changed the SIM to the i-mate Jasjar I brought as Plan B and it worked. It seems the Vodafone Treo 750v is not "roaming friendly". I am going to follow up this with Vodafone New Zealand.

- The Merlin XU870: disappointment. Even though there's a post on Geekzone with precise instructions on how to install the Vodafone VMC software on Windows Vista, I found another problem: the laptop is running Windows Vista RTM 64 bit, and those instructions won't work, so...

- Boingo Hotspot: I have an account with Boing and would prefer to use it over T-Mobile Hotspot, but for some reason Boingo won't log me in through Internet Explorer on Windows Vista. I am going to download Firefox soon...

- Plan Z was to use the Vodafone Treo 750v with the Cingular SIM card over Bluetooth, but seeing the Vodafone Treo 750v is not "roaming friendly", I might have to resort to using WiFi at the hotel and conference...

UPDATE: I arrived at the hotel at midnight, after a five hour delay in Los Angeles due to a delayed airplane. Then United Airlines misplaced my suitcase and promised to deliver at the hotel sometime during the evening. Now to the communications Plan D, which actually works!

I found out that the Palm Treo 750v will work while roaming if I manually set the UMTS network to 1900MHZ/850MHz. It seems the Auto setting is not working for some reason.

Next, as promised, the Cingular SIM card was waiting for me here. I inserted it into the Palm Treo 750v and it automatically loaded the appropriate APN configuration and I had no problems connecting to Cingular's network. So instead of using the Merlin XU870 HSDPA card (which won't work on Windows Vista 64 bit) I decided to keep the i-mate Jasjar for my voice communications and use the Palm Treo 750v as a Bluetooth modem. It all works perfectly this way.

Internet access during CES

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Jan-2007 11:49

Answering my previous request for a better solution than using Vodafone New Zealand's data roaming through their partner networks in the U.S. and their (Vodafone's) absurd price of NZ$30/MB, Cingular came to the rescue and I will have mobile Internet access during my stay in Las Vegas to attend the 2007 International CES through their cellular services. Thanks, Cingular!

Today I got an e-mail from DHL with a tracking number so I should have a Cingular SIM card ready for use when I get to Las Vegas.

I'd also like to thank Rocky S., who contacted me asking if I had already sorted my mobile Internet access for my stay in Las Vegas, offering his Verizon EVDO card as a loaner if I still had a need for that. Thanks Rocky, as explained before I now have this sorted, but it was very kind of you.

Also as a part of my full disclosure, I am flying to Las Vegas as a guest of Microsoft, part of their Windows Vista Lab, a series of activities that will take our group throuhg a more in depth view of Microsoft Windows Vista.

One thing SkypeIn can't do: block telemarketers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Jan-2007 08:22

We all know SkypeIn is an interesting and useful feature. SkypeIn allows consumers to have a dedicated phone number in different cities, even countries, and receive phone calls made to their numbers directly on their Skype software client or handsets - like the Dualphone I have around here that don't even need a computer.

For me I have two SkypeIn phone numbers, one in San Francisco (CA) and another one in Melbourne (Australia).

Now, these work great and only a couple of people know my number in San Francisco - only people that needed to contact me for a conference call or two.

Skype should actually offer these numbers here in New Zealand as well.

But I digress. Last night we got a phone call at 3:45am. Some telemarketer, with a foreign accent, not American, not New Zealander, was calling my SkypeIn phone number for a survey.

For a damn survey at 3:45am.

Right. So I think I should join the United States Do Not Call Registry. I don't even live there, but I will have to. The problem you see, is that there's no geographical or time zone limitation when you have a SkypeIn number. For those inconsiderate telemarketing companies, they think it's fair game, being a U.S. number and being day over there.

How did they get hold of this phone number? Was it a random dialing exercise? "Let's just call all numbers in the SFO area, it's daytime there after all..."

If you want to register your SkypeIn number in this list then visit their official website for the United States Do Not Call Registry.

Of course another problem is that SkypeIn numbers are assigned by Skype, and their terms of service says that they may even take or change the number at their will, depending on how much you use it.

What if when you buy a SkypeIn number you get a "gift", a number that have been already sent to hundreds of telemarketing companies? What a pain that would be.

We need something like a "flag" that will tell telemarketing companies to not call Skype numbers. Something that uniquely identify a number as a virtual number, therefore let those people know that they may be disturbing someone in the middle of the night, on the other side of the world.

And no, logging off Skype during the night is not an option. I don't unplug my phone from the landline every evening before going to bed. Why should I log off of Skype?

Home made Xbox 360 racing simulator

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jan-2007 09:09

This one is an interesting video showing how it looks like to drive a home made Xbox 360 racing simulator. The setup was created by a fellow Geekzone reader (BestTimesNow). You can find more information on this thread. Once you sit and start driving the visual is really incredible:

Illegal movie downloads is bigger than legal alternatives

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Dec-2006 19:02

It's no surprise that illegal video downloads surpass legal alternatives 5 to 1. If the studios decided to stop with moves such as geographically limited licensing that allow online stores to sell movies only in certain regions, then the world outside the U.S. (yes, there's one!) could buy more of their movies:

Of course you can find movie download online stores that sell outside the U.S, if you are interested in a comprehensive collection of B movies. Or if you are interested in a selection of music clips. Nothing against CinemaNow or Digirama, I am pretty sure they would love to sell a bigger variety of videos, if allowed by the industry.

You can try searching for "online video purchase" or "online video download" and see if you can find a service where you can actually purchase video content.

The industry is wrong. The big guys are not making money because they are not selling their product. Instead they rather battle the consumer.

Maxtor OneTouch 1TB dead

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Dec-2006 08:20

My Maxtor OneTouch III G31W010 (1TB, 7200rpm, 16384KB cache, external, USB 2, Firewire 400/800) seems to be dead.

I bought this drive in April 2006, it died in December 2006. It doesn't look good.

The product is no longer available on Ascent, so I am trying to find out about warranty repair or replacement now...

This leads to the question: what do we use as a backup of a backup? I want some on-line backup tools, but alas Carbonite (aff link) doesn't work with Windows Vista (yet) and it won't do what I need in terms of multiple copies of same item, use as a drive, etc.

I was talking to NZDrive's Bruce during coffee other day and their solution is based on sFTP with a browser interface, very easy to use. It doesn't have a client application though (yet) and needs a bit of coding for a good backup script, but the advantage is their use of a standard sFTP solution.

Still, I need something to store about 700GB. This is about 3 copies of a few Virtual Machines, the Save State for a couple of servers, the Norton Ghost image for a couple of PCs, my last ten backups. Not cheap for online storage...

I can just store this on a second drive, but the option is not safe enough since I really want something outside this house!

UPDATE: Very fast replies from Ascent, the on-line retailer for tech products... Maxtor is no longer in business (Seagate bought the company a few months ago) and this will be replaced with another drive - not sure about specs for the new one yet. But very quick service so far.

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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