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Thanks NBR for the laugh (on BlackBerry, RIM and its execs)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Dec-2011 11:20

Seriously having a laugh at the coincidence today on NBR's technology RSS feed:

(1) Drunken BlackBerry execs chewed through restraints

(2) 'Best BlackBerry ever' gains local release

The first story refers to a couple of drunken RIM executives who were fired a couple of weeks ago from the Canadian company after creating a stir during a long haul flight. The second story is about the local launch of a new BlackBerry smartphone.

Separate the stories are unrelated. But when listed in a sequence like that, I thought it hilarious...

Government to subsidise Igloo set top boxes?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Dec-2011 09:15

If reports are true, the New Zealand government have plans to subsidise Igloo set top boxes when the old analogue TV signals are turned off next year.

According to the New Zealand Herald:

The move is aimed at easing the transition to digital transmission, but would fit with Government policies that promote pay TV and undermine Freeview and the free-to-air TV sector.

Igloo is a digital receiver with a pay-per-view option. It will receive all open free-to-air channels, plus you can pay a monthly fee to receive additional channels, supplied by Sky. You will also be able to pay to watch specific movies or events. It is 51% owned by Sky Television.

If the New Zealand government wanted to give subsidies to help the transition between analogue to digital TV next year it should go to Freeview, our free-to-air broadcast platform, not to a private platform owned by a company that already dominates the satellite TV market in this country.

The TelstraClear unmetered weekend, and asking you for ideas

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Dec-2011 09:51

TelstraClear "unleashed" an unmetered weekend. And what a weekend it has been (still Sunday morning here). If you are not in New Zealand you should know most ISP plans are "metered", i.e. customers have a usage allowance measured in GB, with overage charges after that.

TelstraClear is the country's second largest ISP and boldly announced all data traffic from Friday 2nd Dec 2011 6pm through Sunday 4th Dec 2011 would be "unmetered", meaning this traffic would not be counted towards the customers' usage.

Obviously people would take advantage of this, by either uploading their digital content to online storage and backup, downloading as much content as possible for later viewing, or watching as much as possible YouTube, or using video calls like crazy - it's almost Christmas after all.

There's a long discussion on Geekzone on "how was your TelstraClear performance during free data weekend" and comments on NBR here.

Here's an interesting comment on Geekzone:

I must confess that I'm a bit confused as to why people are painting TelstraClear as callous, outrageous, moronic, illegal gits for actually TRYING to do, for once, what people have been clamouring for - "all you can eat" broadband.

Be careful what you wish for. 

I decided to post my reply to this comment in this blog post as well, to make it more visible outside the forum. And I agree with the gist of that comment.

This is because ISPs can't provision resources based on a constant peak demand, because what happens with all those resources during non-peak times? Who's paying for that? The costs would be enormous, which would of course be reflected on prices to consumers.

This "experiment" weekend by TelstraClear is not even a valid model showing how much resources the second largest ISP would need, because people are actually using a lot more than they would normally, just because this is an unusual event.

In effect what we are seeing here is the most demanding usage the network would be required to service. But not necessarily the demand an all you can eat plan would require in "normal" sense.

What are your views? Do you think unlimited plans are a good idea? Or do you think metered plans are better? What would you suggest to limit the impact of the Tragedy of Commons for example, where a few use all the available limited resources that should be shared by a larger group?

But TelstraClear redeems...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Dec-2011 22:59

Sorry folks if my previous post was a bit harsh. Trying to get things done here, taking advantage of an exceptional offer of free data. Then things die after only 30 minutes.

But thanks to some dedicated people, who joined in the hunt for a fault, we now know this is  a hardware fault, even one that was not seem before (thanks to us here using a new technology).

Those people worked after hours to find what is wrong, and for this I am thankful. You know who you are. Have a good weekend folks.

Unbelievable TelstraClear...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Dec-2011 19:41

A couple of weeks ago I was battling with some small outages on my Telstraclear cable service. The connection would drop for 20 to 30 minutes and come back, once every evening. Then one evening it was down and I decided to "rest". Next morning, almost 12 hours later, the connection was still down.

I tried swapping the router, direct connection from a PC to the modem, etc. Called their help desk and had someone reset my connection on the cable node. Note my connection is one of the very few 100 Mbps service in Wellington, so I thought it could be some configuration on the node, or the Cisco modem being one of the old DOCSIS3 version.

Fast forward to this weekend. TelstraClear made a big noise about their "unmetered broadband" weekend and I thought I'd take advantage of that - first to push my connection to the max, while the entire network is being used at its max.

Thirty minutes into a 60GB download (I'm copying a couple of virtual machines down as a backup) and an extra 10 GB upload to my Crashplan online backup, the connection died.

Again, before calling TesltraClear I tried all we know they were going to ask: swap router, plug a PC directly to the cable modem, etc. The modem won't come online.

Then I decided to call TelstraClear. Unbelievable. Their customer services is closed, and won't open until 9am, about 14 hours away. On the weekend they announced to everyone to push their network to the limits. For me, it's a fiasco.

All the good will they brought in when they announced a good reduction in broadband prices for this month is gone now. I can't work, cant do the things I wanted to do, and the LEDs in their frigging modem are blinking, without being able to connect.

UPDATE: We have now at least three people looking into this. After many remote resets and all, still no traffic. Everyone around seems happy, so it could be the hardware. If nothing works it looks like I will have to get a modem replacement.

Many thanks to those people working late at night trying to figure out what's going on.

UPDATE: It is now decided this is a hardware fault. So now we wait for a new box to arrive.

Again, thanks to those who joined a call late at night to figure this out, including those working from home.

The SKA Big Data infographic

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Nov-2011 14:34

I am told IBM has completed the software research project for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Global Telecospe. While we wait for a decision where the SKA is actually being built (contenders are Australia/New Zealand and South Africa), here's an infographic showing how big Big Data is when it comes to this project (click image for larger version):

SKA will be the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope. It has been estimated that the SKA will generate in excess of one Exabyte of raw data in a single day - more than the entire daily internet traffic. One of the central design challenges of the SKA project is how to process this huge volume of astronomical data and enable insights to be drawn from it.

Who is using Microsoft cloud services?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Nov-2011 09:28

New Zealand datacentres on Computerworld (and a quote from yours)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Nov-2011 10:48

A couple of months ago I was contacted by Computerworld to give some information about our use of a New Zealand-based datacentre. The story "The rise of the local datacentre" is now live on Computerworld.

Having a local datacentre provider is vital to Geekzone.

"Our analytics tell us that 55 percent of our traffic is from New Zealand and about 70 percent of this local traffic comes from Auckland," says Freitas. "Having servers in Wellington would add unnecessary hops to the majority of our readers, and having servers overseas would add to the international latency. Also, having local servers allows our local readers to reach the site even if their ISP's international links are down or overloaded."

"We looked at Intergen in Wellington, which is not the largest but has a nice infrastructure," he says. "But because of the Auckland numbers we decided to keep the services there."

Freitas believes in being closer to customers, mainly because of speed.

We're with Datacom in Auckland... Hit the link to read the whole article.

The Future of Trustworthy Computing with Brendon Lynch, Chief Privacy Officer, Microsoft Corp

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Nov-2011 10:37

Found this from Nathan's blog:

The internet of things, big data and virtually limitless inexpensive storage will transform the online environment. Huge volumes of data from new sources such as sensors, biometric devices and smartgrids will create significant opportunities in business, healthcare, government and countless other fields.

At the same time, the data deluge will also carry significant risks that must be managed if society is to realise its value. Brendon Lynch, the Chief Privacy Officer at Microsoft, will discuss these trends and their implications.

Brendon is responsible for all aspects of Microsoft's privacy programme, including privacy policy creation and implementation across the company, influencing the creation of privacy and data protection technologies for customers and overseeing communication and engagement with external stakeholders. Now based at Microsoft's global headquarters in Redmond, he is originally from the Waikato.

Dean's Distinguished Speaker Series:

Monday 5 December 2011 from 5.30pm
The University of Auckland Business School
Lecture Theatre OGGB3, Level 0
Owen G Glenn Building
12 Grafton Road, Auckland
Event details and registration

Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce
Breakfast Tuesday 6 December 2011 from 7.15am
Wellesley Boutique Hotel
2-8 Maginnity Street, Wellington
Event details and registration

Mobile browser users are a sorry group...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Nov-2011 10:00

I like reading some aggregators site ( for example) or RSS readers on my smartphone. The sites/readers link to some news sites that are getting very clever about mobile devices. But still dumb.

Here is the thing: if I want to read an article and your site automatically redirects to a mobile version, at least have the decency of sending my browser to the article I am trying to read, not your front page.

Here, this XKCD cartoon explains it really well:

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.

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