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My 2007 International CES

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Dec-2006 09:56

On 5 January I will be flying from Wellington, through Auckland, Los Angeles to arrive in Las Vegas where I will be attending two big events: the Microsoft Windows Vista RTM Lab and the 2007 International CES (Consumer Electronics Show).

The Microsoft Windows Vista RTM Lab is a two days event, with some public and some NDA material, on the state of Microsoft Windows Vista, ahead of its public availability on 31 January 2007. Microsoft Featured Communities websites were invited to attend the event which will be held on the two days before the CES.

The Featured Communities websites are those who are linked from Microsoft's main site, from a variety of pages, engagin with end users. Geekzone is currently linked from the MSDN and the main Windows Mobile Communities page. You will find lots of resources on these community sites.

The event includes a group reception (ok, a party) on Saturday evening, and culminating with our attendance to Bill Gates keynote at the CES.

I have lots of meetings to attend during the CES, and some exciting products to see. I also have plans to be present at some parallel events such as Lunch at Piero's and ShowStoppers, plus a couple of receptions (ok, parties) put on by HP, Dell and the good folks at the Blog Business Summit.
Unfortunatelly I have to say "no" to requests to meet people at Pepcom Digital Experience. Even though I participated in last year's Digital Experience, this time they looked at my old business card from two years ago (from their files) and shrieked on the sight of a "Consultant" there... Oh well, their rules and we play by them.

Full disclosure: my trip is being sponsored by Microsoft as part of the Feature Communities programme seeing I am participating in the Windows Vista RTM Lab.

I am still looking for a sponsor for my 3G access while on the CES show floor - otherwise I won't be able to post on the spot because my data roaming bill would be astronomically high, thanks to Vodafone NZ's $30/MB rates.

TelstraClear: great marketing move

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Dec-2006 11:45

For a few months people have been discussing in our TelstraClear forum on Geekzone about network performance, mainly for those connected to the higher speed (10 Mbps) broadband plans.

We have received comments from TelstraClear pointing to a high contention rate, but also indicating this is known and being worked - mainly the replacement of some hardware to provide a lower number of users per point.

Just today I got this e-mail from TelstraClear:

Dear Customer,

Over the past year we have had staggering growth in broadband customer numbers on our Wellington InHome network. The rate of growth has exceeded even our most optimistic views of how popular our High Speed Internet services would become.

As a result of this growth, some Wellington and Kapiti customers on our 10 Mbps plans are receiving speeds that are lower than what we believe is acceptable.

We are working to implement new equipment that will address this issue, but this will not be resolved for all customers until late February.

To make up for this, we will automatically credit your account with $20 each month until the new equipment is installed. Until then you'll still get the same amount of traffic and your email won't be affected.

Thank you for your understanding - and thanks again for being a TelstraClear customer.

All the best for the holiday season.

The team at TelstraClear

As Juha suggested in the ongoing discussion, TelstraClear "gets the inaugural Geekzone Award for Best Public Relations Move".

Well done!

LG Chocolate coming to Telecom New Zealand?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Dec-2006 10:28

Yesterday a mysterious "save the date" e-mail made the rounds. With words such as "...taste of new mobile phone for 2007", and "Technology has never been so delicious and decadent." on a rectangular brown box that reminds me of a chocolate bar I could only think of one thing:

LG Chocolate
Seeing that LG Chocolate is a 1.9 GHz CDMA PCS, 800 MHz CDMA (digital dual-band), I think this handset will be available through Telecom New Zealand.

Sink your teeth into the luxury and innovation of the Chocolate by LG – now available in black, white, red, and green. With its minimalist-inspired style and silky-smooth slide design, the Chocolate offers a rich array of features that include V CAST Music, a glowing, touch-sensitive keypad, superlative music/video player, luxurious 1.3 megapixel camera/camcorder, Bluetooth capabilities, and a microSD memory port for extra storage. Chocolate. LG’s newest mobile treat.

Any ideas?

Beware of domain registrar scammers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Dec-2006 10:27

They are back, and they come with a hefty price tag. I am talking about domain registration scams, in which a company sends an official looking piece of paper (worth nothing) that resembles an invoice, asking an absurd amount of money for a domain you already have registered.

Ivan is blogging (and sent me an IM) on such a scam mail he received on his mailbox today. The paper came from a company "based" in New York, and they asked him to pay US$966 for a domain already registered on his name - and not registered with the scammers of course.

This mail came from Prague, but in the last couple of years New Zealand companies received similar letters from an Australian business trying to do the same.

Many companies fall for this scam because the accounts departments have no clue on how domain registration works, and simply pay the paper - which is not an official document at all!

Make sure your accounts department check with IT before paying any invoices related to domains, e-mail or Internet services. Let them know about this scam.

Trademe on Channel 9

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Dec-2006 18:44

Got something nice in the mail today, from Trademe.

I started then to look for some more stuff about their site and found that trademe's Rowan Simpson was a featured guest in one of ARCast episodes, on Microsoft's Channel 9. The show recording is from late September 2006.

I am just listening to it now, and after the usual introductions "Who are you", "Wow, New Zealand is cool", they go into the main talk of the show, in this case their migration to ASP .Net.

I am interested on their experience because this kind of migration is something we will be working on sometime soon here at Geekzone.

UPDATE: Added correct link.

Sierra Wireless AirCard 595 CDMA EVDO Rev A on Telecom New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Dec-2006 19:25

I just read this headline and summary from Sierra Wireless' RSS feed:

Telecom New Zealand launches Sierra Wireless AirCard® 595 PC card

Latest Sierra Wireless PC card modem supports deployment of EV-DO Revision A network, offering mobile data customers faster file uploads on the go

Sierra Wireless AirCard 595 CDMA EVDO Rev A

The specifications for this Sierra Wireless AirCard 595:

Faster wireless data speeds up to 1.8 Mbps upload and 3.1 Mbps on the download
Full CDMA technology support for CDMA EV-DO Rev A, EV-DO Rev 0 and CDMA 1x
New fixed design high performance antenna for highest speeds, extended coverage and reliability
Supported OS: Windows® Vista, XP, 2000, Mac OS X (coming end of Q4)
Interface: 32-Bit CardBus with NDIS & DUN support, NDIS provides ease of use and improved battery life

Although the RSS feed shows the headline, the press release is not on-line yet. So there you go, we have a scoop... Telecom New Zealand is planning to "turn the key" on its CDMA EV-DO Rev A service from 12 December 2006 and this card is in the lineup.

Bummer. Telecom New Zealand is undergoing some changes, people are moving positions, and I can't get things out them now. I couldn't get my hands on a Treo 700wx for review, did not get replies to other queries, and I had no access to any of their new CDMA EV-DO Rev A tests.

Completely the opposite of Vodafone New Zealand's current position and their relationship with us here at Geekzone. Interesting how things change in six months: sometime ago I was complaining the other way around.

Welcome the Acer Ferrari 5000

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Dec-2006 14:49

I got a date for this to arrive here now: 22 December, so I am told. This is when the Acer Ferrari 5000 arrives - and what a machine:

- AMD Turion 64 X2 (dual-core 64-bit) running at 2GHz, with 512KB L2 cache per core;
- 2GB RAM 667MHz DDR 2 memory configured in dual-channel mode;
- ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics processor with 256MB;
- 15.4" WSXGA or WXGA, 16 ms, widescreen;
- Bluetooth 2.0;
- carbon fiber casing;
- 802.11 a/b/g wireless LAN;
- 5-in-1 media card reader built-in;
- 1.3 megapixel digital camera built-in.

Review at the The Register.

This laptop will arrive with Windows Vista installed and ready to use, courtesy of AMD and Microsoft. I plan to replace my P4 HT 3GHz desktop and Toshiba M200 Tablet PC with this machine.

I will post about it later, when it gets here. Just before Xmas...

UPDATE: for people coming from Digg and Slashdot, read this...

Verizon roaming charges, Vodafone New Zealand roaming charges

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Dec-2006 21:44

Via Slashdot I've found this:

When the guy wanted to travel to Canada he asked Verizon Wireless how much was the cost of data roaming. The CSR quoted ".002 cents per KB", but when the bill came in the user found it is actually ".002 dollars per KB". There's a huge difference in those numbers, 100 times actually.

The whole discussion started because the CSRs (five of them) couldn't understand the difference between .002 cents and .002 dollars. The data roaming bill came as $72 when it should be $.72 if the cost was really what they said in first place.

Just so you know, the actual cost is .002 dollars per KB, and he's sticking to the quoted amount. But this is another story.

Back to New Zealand now.

Why I am posting this here? Because Verizon Wireless charges approximately US$2.05/MB for data roaming to its customers. This is about NZ$ 3.03/MB. Compare this with Vodafone New Zealand's NZ$30/MB!

It is hard to believe data roaming costs that much to Vodafone New Zealand. Everyone I asked at Vodafone tells me this is the cost charged to them by their network partners. It's interesting that $30/MB is the same price regardless of a user visiting the U.S., the UK, Israel or Mexico. It's like all networks charge the same...

You only get a break when using one of the Vodafone's own network or special partner, in which case the data roaming price goes down to NZ$10/MB. Still not cheap by anyone's book.

Vodafone data roaming

Even less to Stephanie Guigou, who paid NZ$2000 for 69MB while in Australia, plus other charges to a total of NZ$5000. Of course, she could have used Vodafone's own network there, but we all know not everyone knows how to configure software. Not everyone is a geek. People think it's simply "plug and play". And if it's working, why touch it? To their credit, Vodafone says that an error happened on the partner network, causing the excessive usage charging.

In my view, this cost is a burden for small companies. Take me as an example: while overseas for my visit to the 2007 CES I won't be able to work on Geekzone as much as I would like to, because of this cost. Sure this affects other small companies and entrepreneurs who must keep a close eye on expenses.

My advice is when overseas, look for a wi-fi hotspot, or use the hotel in-room broadband. I found that in the U.S. you can find free wi-fi hotspots in some cafes providing you buy a coffee. Or stop at Starbucks and use the T-Mobile Hotspot service. Or pay as low as US$1.00/hour of wi-fi usage at MacDonald's for example - just buy a coke, sit back and relax.

By the way, Vodafone PLC has 45% participation on Verizon Wireless.

BlackBerry Pearl on Vodafone New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Dec-2006 12:56

I am just back from the Vodafone offices where I was formally introduced to the BlackBerry Pearl. I will be getting one of these devices to test, but this time (unlike the time I had the BlackBerry 7230 around), I will use the Enterprise Server, instead of the Internet service option.

This is how it works: for a single licence you no longer have to buy the server software. Just download from the RIM site, install on your server and configure it to work with your Microsoft Exchange Server. If you have more than one user then you can purchase additional licences, with an one time fee for a block (something about $699 for 5 users I am told).

The Vodafone fees are $49 for 3MB, which should be ok for e-mail only. Also this is not a 3G device, so that should discourage anyone to browse web sites on it.

The unit seemed responsive, and with good nice screen. Let's see how it behaves with my Exchange Server for this test.

Palm Treo 680 in the house for review

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Dec-2006 22:44

Today was a good day in town. I usually go to the CBD on Wednesdays only for my weekly coffee at Astoria, but this Monday was an exception.

I had a lunch meeting with the managing principals of a large IT organisation, then walked to Astoria for a coffee before meeting with Vodafone to check their new flagship store in Wellington (more on this with pictures later). At Astoria, by chance, I met Tim Haines and Nathan Torkington. Tim is one of the guys organising the Ruby on Rails movement here in the region, and Nathan is the force behind the New Zealand Foo Camp (which I will be attending early 2007).

Before leaving the Geekzone Manor though I bumped into this square box left at my doorstep. It contained a Palm Treo 680 for review.

It's charging now, and I will pop a SIM card in it tomorrow - it will be great to compare with the Vodafone Treo 750v for a couple of weeks.

Palm Treo 680
The Palm Treo 680 is currently the "budget" handset in Palm's lineup. Unlike the Treo 750v, the Palm Treo 680 runs Palm OS and is a GSM/GPRS/EDGE handset (the Treo 750v is 3G/HSDPA). Also, the four colours available in the U.S. are not present here, so I got the grey one on the left.

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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