My window to the world

Kiwi Foo Camp (a.k.a. Baa Camp)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Nov-2006 09:39

Interesting times ahead. It looks like people are being invited around to participate in the local version of O'Reilly's FOO Camp (FOO as in Friends Of O'Reilly). Like the original FOO Camp, the Kiwi Foo Camp (a.k.a. Baa Camp) is an invitation only event, in an unconference style.

I'm not sure how this is going to work yet, but if it's anything like the U.S. version don't feel bad if you don't get an invitation this time around. According to the Foo organisers over there, each year they invite a different mix of people they know, people they'd like to know, and other crazy stuff.

Having said that, I am looking for someone willing to share accomodation - I've booked into the Walton Park Motor Lodge and the rooms seem to accomodate two, so if you are keen, contact me (after you have received your invitation and confirmed presence).

Blogs are conversations. Really?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Nov-2006 13:26

Some people think blogs are conversations. But what happens when the conversation is broken? Mike Arrington's TechCrunch had a post about Microsoft's social site for IT professionals ( and I think he broke the conversation at some point.

While I agree with Michael that aggreg8 is not ready for prime time, I have to disagree with a small, but interesting incident.

On this post's first version Michael compared with The Hive (, saying that the hive was a social site for developers, and the domain was for sale, linking to the (wrong) domain.

I posted a comment to his blog entry pointing out that The Hive is not for developers, but for Microsoft Community sites owners, and is not the same as I asked for some fact checking before posting.

What happened? His post was changed, and my comment removed. Why my comment was removed? Because I asked for some fact checking before posts are done? C'mon. Helping accuracy shouldn't be rewarded with this.

Oh well, one less feed on my aggregator.

Citywide/Metro wireless networks: RoamAD

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Nov-2006 14:56

Just off the phone with RoamAD CEO Martyn Levy. First time talking to him, and it was very interesting. RoamAD supplies a wireless networking platform for converged wireless networks including citywide Wi-Fi networks, public safety networks, highway Wi-Fi corridors, surveillance / CCTV networks as well as general use networks.

The company is based in Auckland (here in New Zealand) but most of their business is conducted overseas, where they have supplied infrastructure and services to a number of businesses and city councils around the world - check their business case studies for some interesting reading (Perth and Arizona Highway are in there), as well some of their wins.

Martyn talked me through some of their capabilities, resources and a couple of projects. We also had a quick discussion about how airports could implement a wireless business model that actually benefits their own interests and those of travellers (hello Auckland International Airport!).

Very good chat for a first contact, I am looking forward to visiting them next time I am up in Auckland.

Convergence Oceania 2007 wrap-up

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Nov-2006 20:41

This year's Convergence Oceania (Auckland) was quite an interesting event. For the first time I walked around the show floor knowing more people than having to actually introduce myself. This was great - after three years attending the event (three times in Wellington and twice in Auckland) it means I am actually getting to a new networking level.

The event is organised by the Wireless and Broadband Forum New Zealand, and brings together the ICT industry, government entities and enterprise users on a single day with sessions, forums and a showcase of technologies.

During the day I had the opportunity to meet and greet people, introduce myself, introduce people I know to other people I know and create conditions for some businesses, plus lots of interesting talks with industry players.

Unlike previous years, this time the coffee cart wasn't sponsored by Vodafone New Zealand, but Willian Cass' aangel did a great service making sure everyone was full of caffeine.

The Telecom New Zealand stand was interesting, and I had a chance to play with their upcoming Telecom New Zealand Palm Treo 700wx, and compare it with my Vodafone Palm Treo 750v, both running Microsoft Windows Mobile OS. I noticed the CDMA version comes with a stub antenna, it uses a different grey coating (compared with the rubberised blue coat on the Treo 750v) and just a tad bigger buttons. I was promised one of these new handsets pretty soon for a review.

Nutshell's Ian Miller stopped by while I was comparing the Palm Treo models, and I ended up with one of their cases for these new models. Nutshell makes some very nice leather cases for PDAs and smartphones in general - but it's almost unknown here in New Zealand, even though he's based in Auckland.

I met Nick Robertshawe (Telecom d>zone), who arranged the Telecom sponsorship for our Geekzone 2006 event a few months back, and talked about the next event, what we're planning, etc. I also had a chance to introduce him to the guys at, which has released one of the first .mobi domains in New Zealand,

I also had the chance to meet some Geekzone Forum visitors from within the Telecom ranks, but I can't say who is who, sorry.

Walking around I met Pat Kelly from APT, who showed me a couple of interesting devices - including an AnyData ADU-610WK HSDPA USB modem (which, unlike the vodem, can reach a maximum speed of 7.2 Mbps) and the Hantel WLL-HTT800F, a CDMA fixed line solution.

Steve Simms, from Tomizone was there, and I had a chance to explore a bit of this service. He was just back from the U.S. where Tomizone was being introduced. It basically allows users to share their broadband connection wirelessly, and charge for this. The router uses a special firmware, and the billing system is provided by Tomizone. You can have friends in a white list, who will be able to use the service for free, while everyone else will have access to the broadband connection for a fee. It sounds great if you live in a dense area and can put a wireless AP by the window, but it makes much more sense for someone who owns a food court or a cafe and don't have access to other brand services.

Mike Peachey from TradeQuotient showed me their mobile dispatch application, working on a browser and on compatible J2ME-enabled mobile phones. Tradespeople can receive service orders on their mobile, acknolwedge, start the clock and charge, all from the their handsets, with full support from the backend database. Very cool.

Leigh-Mardon had an interesting security application, the Cellular Authentication Token (CAT), enabling OTP (one time passwords) on mobile devices, including J2ME, Symbian and Windows Mobile clients.

For VoIP lovers, IT Net World was therem and James Baker showed me their Swix solution for hosted IP telephony based on Windows Server. The platform is vendor independent, and different licence types, for small/medium and large organisations. The whole thing integrates with the active directory and seemed very slick, including call handling, rerouting, voice-mail and many other PBX-like features.

Also there was Barry Williams, representing Renaissance and their products in New Zealand, including a new Asus Tablet PC, US Robotics Skype Phone, and a few other wireless products. It was through him that I found out that Palm is bringing the Treo 750v and Treo 700wx directly to the market with the operators (Vodafone New Zealand and Telecom New Zealand), with Renaissance disitrbuting the other Palm handhelds, and possibly in the near future the new Palm Treo 680.

I spent quite some time talking to InternetNZ's Communications and Research Officer, Richard Woods, who joined the organisation after having worked as a tech reporter for years. We discussed the current state of technology coverage in the MSM and blogs, and lots more. I ended up joining the Internet Society of New Zealand.

As I said before, Vodafone New Zealand wasn't there, but Dion Knill (Vodafone Head of Business Terminals) showed up to attend some sessions and we had a quick chat.

To complete the day, I got a ride back to the airport in the same cab as the InternetNZ crew, and scored an entry to the Air New Zealand Koru Lounge, courtesy of David Farrar, whom I met for the first time, albeit briefly.

It was a very full on day (flying in and out the same day) but worth the visit.

I've joined the Internet Society of New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Nov-2006 20:35

During the Convergence Oceania 2007 (more on this later) I had a chat with folks at the InternetNZ (Internet Society of New Zealand) and decided to join.

This is the basics:

InternetNZ, the Internet Society of New Zealand is a non-profit, non-governmental society formed to support and encourage the coordinated and cooperative growth of the Internet in New Zealand. Its individual and organisational members share a vision of an open and accessible network that benefits the wider community. The membership works with a variety of technologies to foster the development of the Internet and related aspects of a maturing information society in New Zealand.

  • To promote easily available access to the Internet for New Zealanders including fibre to every home.
  • To develop, maintain and disseminate standards for the Internet and its associated technologies and applications.
  • To develop effective administrative processes for the operation of the Internet in New Zealand.
  • To promote education and conduct research related to the Internet.
  • To represent the common interests of the wider NZ Internet community.
  • To support continued competitive provision of access to the Internet.

  • Let's see how this goes.

    MIX07 announced

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Nov-2006 11:15

    If you (like me) missed Mix 06, or attended the event and want to get ready for MIX07...

    Mix 07

    MIX is Microsoft’s premiere conference for web developers, designers and business professionals. MIX07 will explore the next generation web technologies that help businesses unlock new revenue opportunities and lower development costs. MIX is a forum for discussing ways to bring technologies such as ASP.NET AJAX (“Atlas”), Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere (WPF/E), Media Center Edition, Internet Explorer, and the Expression suite, together in a way that enables developers and designers to deliver rich web experiences that drive business results.

    MIX will cost $1195 USD, but if you register before March 15th you will get a special discounted price of $995.

    MIX07 will be held on 30 April - 2 May 2007. I missed it last year because it was just the week we were expecting our first baby. Let's see if I can make it this time.

    Windows Live Barcode II: mobile readers

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Nov-2006 00:35

    Since my previous post about Windows Live Barcode raised much interest, here are some related links: is a QR code generator, similar to Windows Live Barcode, and is a QR code reader . has some information on QR codes and a mobile application. is a J2ME-based QR code reader for mobile phones. has a Pocket PC QR code reader - actually many, and all the ones I tried didn't work on my HTC Apache and Treo 750v.

    I am still looking for a good Windows Mobile application.

    Web technologies podcast, Geekzone coffee group

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Nov-2006 23:24

    If you are interested in web technologies you might want to listen to this week's The Microsoft Developer Show #13 - The Future of Web Development podcast, hosted by fellow MVP Nick Randolph.

    In this podcast you will hear Microsoft New Zealand's Darryl Burling talking about web 2.0, ASP .Net Ajax, WPF and more. He also comments on the Geekzone coffee group I run here in Wellington, meeting at Astoria every Wednesday 1:30pm.

    Windows Live Barcode services: create your QR code

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Nov-2006 19:01

    I just found out about another Microsoft Windows Live service (yes, still no directory of these services anywhere): Windows Live Barcode. With this site you can create a QR code with your busines card information, or from a free text.

    Windows Live Barcode

    The QR code is a bi-dimensional bar code capable of storing up to 7089 characters. QR Code carries information both horizontally and vertically, capable of encoding the same amount of data of a standard bar code in approximately one-tenth the space of a traditional bar code. It looks like this one:

    An example of business application for this code, as shown in the demo, is having the business card information encoded and printed on the top of the card or on its back. Using a mobile application you can take a picture of this code, and automatically scan it for the information, adding to your contacts database.

    Interesting that the demo shows a Windows Mobile application - but there's nowhere to download such a thing - yet. I would like to have one of those. And I would print QR codes on my business cards, for sure. How geek is that?

    By the way, be the first to post below the correct contents of the QR Code in this page and I will have an Amazon gift voucher for you.

    Microsoft Zune stuff

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Nov-2006 10:28

    Microsoft is pushing the Zune out of the door this week. If you don't know what I am talking about, don't worry, you will soon be inundated with information about Zune, but here is some interesting tidbits...

    The Zune is a media player device with 30GB (gigabytes) of storage space, 3" colour display and with wireless networking capabilities. The Zune Website is now live, and you will find lots of information there.

    With the device comes a new on-line music store, where you will be able to purchase your songs, with DRM of course.
    Microsoft Zune

    But even with DRM, there's an interesting twist: using the wireless capabilities you can "beam" any music from your device to a friend's device. Create your own mini-community! Share your media! Let the media be free!

    There are limits though: a friend can only play a shared song 3 times in 3 days, after which he must buy the song to continue using it. Fair enough.

    And a fineprint caught my attention today: "Recipients cannot re-send music that they have received via the sharing feature." This can't be right. How can they expect a viral thing to happen if the "virus DNA" can only be transferred once?

    Anyway, you can have your own content there too. the Zune software can import audio files in unprotected .WMA, MP3, AAC; photos in JPEG; and videos in .WMV, MPEG-4, H.264. So all is not lost, yet.

    As usual, Microsoft (and other consumer electronics companies) started thinking of U.S. only. The Zune won't be available elsewhere for a while, and unlike Apple iTunes store, the Zune store does not seem to be available outside the U.S. for a while. Reports come in that Microsoft UK have no idea of who their music store partner is going to be, so things will be slow outside the North American market.

    Also, MSN Music is closing doors this 14th November, being replaced by the Zune store:

    Beginning November 14th, 2006, MSN Music will no longer offer music downloads through the MSN Music store. The "Buy" buttons that you are used to seeing on the MSN Music album and artist pages will change to links that connect you to Zune and Real Rhapsody. See below for information regarding how this change will impact your MSN Music account.

    And the recently launched Urge (a partnership between Microsoft and MTV) doesn't seem to be getting any exposure either.

    So, what happens with the Windows Mobile Portable Media Center (PMC) now? The supporting MSN Music store is gone. You will have to supply your own content or rely on third party suppliers. If they don't migrate to Zune as well.

    Communities are being built around the new device. Check Zune Thoughts and the virtual Zune User Group for detailed content and discussions.

    Still, would I consider a Zune? Hmmm. Yes. The geek in me is asking for one. To replace my aging PMC. Will it be a rival for the Apple ipod? Only time will tell.

    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:

    Find more about Business Transformation | Enterprise Content Management | Customer Relationship Management

    Social networks presence

    View Mauricio Freitas's profile on LinkedIn

    My Blog by tags...

    State of Browsers...
    Viral Marketing...
    Web Performance Optimization...
    Windows Phone...

    Other recent posts in my blog

    Google crawling Geekzone HTTPS...
    Geekzone gone full HTTPS...
    Microsoft Ignite New Zealand, ...
    If the headlines indicate the ...
    Geekzone data analytics with P...
    State of browsers Geekzone Mar...
    2Cheap Cars discussion...
    Now with more fibre...
    Unlimited is not unlimited: Vo...
    How bad is Vodafone cable at t...

    New posts on Geekzone