My window to the world

Paradise.net.nz changes spam blocking policy

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jul-2006 10:26

I've received an e-mail today from Paradise with this:

We would like to inform you of a change to our spam and anti virus protection policy.

As spam volumes continue to increase, the percentage of incoming email that is classified as spam is also increasing. To address this issue, paradise.net will be deleting spam automatically from your mailbox. 

From 29th of June, all email we classify as SPAM will be automatically deleted. This change will mean that you won't be using your mailbox quota as quickly. This change is made at paradise.net and you do not need to do anything.


"As spam volumes continues to increase, the percentage of incoming email that is classified as spam is also increasing" surely is meant to be "As email volumes continues to increase...".

But the thing that worries me is false positives. All those Trademe e-mails, and I've seen a few going into the spam folder, which is only available through their webmail interface, leaving a lot of people without knowing what's going on.

On the bright side, I've noticed that their filters are generally good, but there are always false positives - as a lot of false negatives, since spammers are getting smarter.

No, I don't know the answer, but simply deleting the e-mails without passing them on to the users might cause some problems, unless the filters are better.

Perhaps the solution is better policies, sender authentication (no, not charging for e-mails as AOL wants to do) or some sort of certificate. But not too overly complicated as those spam blocking services that ask you to visit a webpage to enter a code for each e-mail you send to a friend - I stopped authenticating ages ago, I don't need to waste my time with that.

And blocking smtp ports is not the solution either, as Xtra did a few months ago. There are good legitimate reasons why people use this, and ISPs shouldn't "break" the Internet protocols.






The NZ Maori Party views on telecommunications

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Jun-2006 11:35

If you live in New Zealand, or are interested in some telecommunications policy-making, you should read this pronouncement...

"What this means in effect is that the Bill is sending a strong public policy signal to Telecom and to Vodafone that they will be subject to a greater degree of government regulation."


"Hautaki, Saturn, Econet Wireless ltd, ACN, Kwiknet, netsurf, splurge, surfnet, slingshot, supra networks, actrix, raide internet, clear and Telstraclear, wave, ihug, woosh, xtra, paradise, wireless country….and that’s probably just a start."


Saturn? Econet?  "clear and Telstraclear"? xtra? He mixed old stuff, Telecom companies, stuff that is not even in the air yet..

"Why does it cost exactly the same in real terms to make a voice call from my office here in Parliament to my Wellington home- as it does to make a call to my home in Ngongotaha -that’s Rotorua for those who don’t know- and yet I am being charged extra, relative to the physical distance (and yet there is no electronic distance involved). The ability to be well-connected now means far more than the quality of your social networks, as perhaps it did in previous generations."


Because of the Government imposed Kiwi Share?

"People living in Pasifika families have the lowest levels of telephone and internet access in the home (88 and 16 percent respectively) followed closely by people living in Maori families (92 and 28 percent)."


Could that be because these segments are the ones in the lower income bracket?

"Sole parent families are half as likely as two parent families to have internet access (25% compared to 50 percent)."


Could it be because Internet is not the priority, and feeding the family is?

"This is particularly urgent for tangata whenua, as our Maori spectrum interests are associated with mobile. Until the mobile issues are sorted, tangata whenua access to the tele-communications industry and the three billion dollar mobile market is restricted."


Could it be because the spectrum is being "used" by Econet, with no outcome or service yet? If you don't know, Econet is planning to build a third cellular network in New Zealand. The company is owned by Zimbabwe-based Econet, and managed to get hold of some cheap 3G spectrum thanks to a deal with the Maori Spectrum Trust. The company also got a $5 million dollars grant from the government, but so far the new network has not been seen.

You can read more about Econet in this interesting article, from 2005 when the company's boss says "None of the other operators have built [third generation] networks yet but we're the ones who've been kicked around for not building one. We've almost been treated like criminals."

This has been building up since 2000. Six years is a long time to build a new network.


"They take infra-red photos of each other while I’m still searching for the on-off button."


Infrared photos? With a mobile phone?

"At least I’m one ahead of one of my co-leaders, who calls his new-age phone his raspberry."


Now, this is a good punch...

And a discussion is going on in our Geekzone Forums.




Day in Sydney (Australia), available for brunch

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Jun-2006 10:25

I was invited to join Intel for lunch in Sydney on 27 June, when company executives will show the Core microarchitecture roadmap to a select audience (hmmm, is that me?).

The discussion will highlight how Intel's Core microarchitecture translates into a complete overhaul of PC usage models and how these innovations will mean lower power and thermal burdens in server data centres and increased productivity across client and server platforms. 

My flight leaves Wellington at 6am (NZ time) and arrives in Sydney 7:45am (local time). Since the even is not due until 12pm, I will have a couple of spare hours available.

If you are in Sydney and want to meet for brunch please contact me and let's see if we can arrange something. I will be heading to The Rocks for lunch, so anything around that area or Darling Harbour should be ok.

If you have nice gadgets even better ;-)



Speaking at Unlimited Potential event 5 July 2006

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jun-2006 21:06

I will be one of the six speakers for the 6 x 6 part of the next UP (Unlimited Potential) event here in Wellington.

According to the flyer:
 
Unlimited Potential has invited inventors, suppliers and commentators to give us the skinny on what’s up, what’s breaking internationally and in our own back yard.  We also have some local and global vendors to showcase the latest gadgets, games and home media solutions.  You’ll have a great opportunity to view, experience and interact with their latest gadgets.

The 5th July is shaping up to be one whopping great big geeky networking fest and the Unlimited Potential committee is very excited to be bringing some awesome speakers and exhibitors who are passionate about their technology for your networking pleasure.

When: Wednesday 5th July, 2006
Time:  4.30 for 5.30 start
Where: Renoulf Foyer, Wellington Convention Centre


Other speakers on this event are:

Dr Kate McGrath from The McDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.  Kate will shed some light on what our academics have been up to in the Nanotechnology space around New Zealand.

Jay Templeton from Mabode, in association with Microsoft, is ready to wow us with the latest technologies for working and playing with Digital Media.  We also look forward to Mabode showing off some of the latest Digital Home technology in the exhibition area.

Dan Milward from Instinct Entertainment who create online and mobile phone games is going to talk about their work on teaching Chinese people how to familiarise themselves with English using gaming.  Helping people make connections they may not have in a traditional learning space.

Humphrey Wikeepa is the Manager of Software Development at Te Papa and will be talking about the technology challenges faced in creating Mobile Exhibition Guides using the likes of PDA’s and also discussion other options explored at the International Conference “Museums on the Web 2006” last month.

We are delighted to have David Oliver from The Apple Computer Division of Renaissance Limited back at an UP event to show and tell on what’s hot & new from Apple. The Apple event in June 2005 was a stand-out, so don’t miss the opportunity and they may even let you have a play with their new tools and gadgets.  Apple are also giving away an iPod Nano!

Dave Merral from Orb, in association with Telecom.  Orb brings the highest quality technology and telecommunication solutions from around the world and is providing some insight into the latest cool gadgets such as the plug and play Logitech video calling solution or the Bluetooth laser keyboards. 


Exhibitors include Mabode, Microsoft, JonnyNet, Parkside Publishers, Enhance Lighting, Centruflow, Orb, Telecom, NZ Wireless Café Net, Instinct Entertainment, Apple Computer Division of Renaissance Ltd, Vodafone and Canon

It looks interesting... You have to register to attend.




Air New Zealand conducting study - in the USA

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jun-2006 14:59

Interesting press release from Air New Zealand today...

I wonder why not conduct the same study with the local (New Zealand) market. After all I would guess the majority number of passengers are departing from good old New Zealand? And almost all flights from New Zealand are long haul flights (except to Eastern Australia and a few Pacific Islands).

And if the idea is to "make our flights a positive part of the entire vacation experience", may I suggest (of course my unasked for suggestions):

- Board on time: not five minutes before the departure time, which leads us to...
- Depart on-time: not five minutes late, not ten minutes late, but on time.
- Serve something better than water and a cookie in short flights, in special the ones departing early in the morning for people who will work the whole day in another city and then fly back. A nice breakfast would be good.
- Add a few inches to the space in the main cabin (see my comment below).

I have been flying Air New Zealand on long haul flghts and can't complain of the in-flight service. The people are nice and seem experienced. The few times I had to book flights over the phone (to use my Air New Zealand Air Dollars) the people on the other side of the line were really good and arranged everything well (better than some travel agents).

I've used the new Business Class a few times with their nice flat bed pictured below (not in bed mode of course), enjoyed the Premier Economy with a bit more space than Economy, and have used Economy.


I can't understand the Economy seats. The most unconfortable seats I've ever seen! C'mon, the flights are always 1/3 empty, so why not use the space for the better of everyone? This doesn't need a study and would increase the satisfaction of everyone on vacation...

By the way, the Air New Zealand website says Premier Economy offers AC power, but I couldn't find where to plug my laptop (it works fine on Business of course). So either this need to be fixed on the site, or on the seat.

This is the full press release:

Air New Zealand has teamed with a group of former NASA scientists at Alertness Solutions to conduct the most intensive study of travelers to date. Using methodology previously used to study only astronauts and pilots, the airline is breaking new ground in examining what they have termed the "Vacation Gap," the knowledge gap that exists regarding what happens to leisure travelers before, during and after their vacations.

The Vacation Gap study is a two-phase project. The results of the first phase, an in-depth national online survey, measure consumer perceptions of the vacation process and will compare it to the data from the second phase -- an intricate in-flight study of travelers. The findings from both phases will be used to examine a wide range of vacation and travel related questions, as well as guide the airline on future enhancements designed to maximize the vacation experience.

"By studying the Vacation Gap, Air New Zealand is continuing its efforts to make our flights a positive part of the entire vacation experience," said Gus Gilmore, vice president of Air New Zealand - The Americas. "Air New Zealand will use the results of our study to identify and explore new ways to accelerate the vacation mindset and extend it for travelers once they return. By the time we've completed this study, no one will know more than we do about the vacationer's mindset, inside and out."

The national online survey of 1,200 Americans was conducted in April and included 46 questions about work and stress, the vacation experience and the mental and emotional transitions people make between work/home and vacation modes. Among the findings, more than half (51 percent) would be willing to reduce benefits, daily breaks, pay or holiday time off to get more annual vacation time.

In addition, the survey has revealed an increasing paradox between America's stress levels and the genuine need for rest and vacation, and a significant gap between the desire for a vacation and actually taking one. Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed believe doctors should be able to write prescriptions for vacations and more than half feel that extended time off results in as much as a 25 percent increase in work productivity.

The second phase of Air New Zealand's Vacation Gap project uses scientific monitoring devices to measure brain, eye, muscle, and heart rate activity of 10 passengers flying from the U.S. to New Zealand in April and May. In addition to undergoing intensive in-flight monitoring, vacation travelers also collected data as they transitioned from home to vacation and back home again using a wrist actigraph to collect 24-hour activity levels and quantify sleep, a PDA to collect objective performance of travelers, a daily diary for reporting activities, mood, stress, relaxation and more.

Additional highlights from the consumer survey include:

The American Leisure Paradox

-- Respondents worked about nine to 10 hours a day, and almost half rated their stress levels as "moderate" to "extreme."

-- Other than time or money, 30 percent of respondents cited family commitments, 20 percent cited workload concerns and 11 percent cited guilt about leaving work as the biggest obstacles to taking vacations.


Transitioning to and from the Vacation Mindset

-- More than half (59 percent) feel like they're on vacation before they even arrive at the destination and 66 percent say they do not work while they are on vacation.

-- However, the survey suggests the vacation mindset fades quickly after Americans return. More than half (57 percent) begin to feel like they were never on vacation within the first three days back, returning to their normal stress levels and routines with exercise, sleep, work, diet and social activity.


The Benefits of Vacation

-- The majority of people surveyed acknowledged that vacations have both physiological and psychological health benefits. When asked what they thought would happen if they took two weeks off of work at a time, nearly 40 percent said they thought they would "return relaxed and refreshed."

-- Respondents also agreed that after a vacation, they feel more energized, happy and have a higher ability to communicate with others and concentrate, as well as see up to a 25 percent increase in happiness at work and productivity and decrease in stress.


Men vs. Women

-- During the planning process, the week before and day of departure and on the plane, men rated their levels of relaxation up to 16 percent higher than women.

-- Do women work harder than men? According to the survey, it would seem so. On average, women have taken three fewer days of vacation in the past year than men (female average = 25.0 days vs. male average = 27.9 days). Additionally, the majority of women rated their current stress levels as "moderate" (41 percent), while most men rated theirs as "normal" (36 percent).


Under 50 vs. Over 50

-- When responses were broken down by age, there was a significant difference of opinion on whether doctors should be able to write prescriptions for vacations, as well as their perceived benefits. Seventy-three percent of people under the age of 50 felt doctors should have the authority compared to only 59 percent of people over 50.


The results of "Phase 2" of the study are currently being analyzed and will be released this summer.





What's the problem with Stuff?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Jun-2006 06:41

What's the problem with Stuff, the on-line presence of Fairfax's Dominion Post, the Wellington based newspaper? Why don't they link to the source of information when it's available on-line and it is clearly not a press release?

According to online news groups, some small businesses have continued to pay several hundred dollars a month for full speed ADSL plans from Telecom because they were unaware it slashed the cost of business broadband in April – if customers moved to plans that capped download speeds at 3.5 megabits per second.

The price of business plans offering 512 kilobit per second upstream connection speeds and 10 gigabyte data caps was slashed from more than $900 per month to $71, excluding gst, but higher-priced full-speed plans that offer download speeds of up to 8 megabits per second have not yet been withdrawn.


This quote is taken from this article on Stuff (and from the newspaper).

I am pretty sure they are talking about this discussion here on Geekzone: "Telecom Overcharging ADSL by $400 a month!".

This is not nice - but we can't expect niceties from the mainstream media. But overseas the more traditional newspapers, including The New York Times, link to bloggers and other websites.

I also think this is disrespectful to the original poster on this thread, because his findings are being used by someone else, without attribution.



Globalsat BT359W Bluetooth GPS is here!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Jun-2006 12:00

Nice... FedEx has just delivered a Globalsat BT359W Bluetooth GPS receiver and I couldn't wait to pair it with my desktop for testing.

This GPS will be reviewed later, but for now it's sitting in my window sill. And even with the bad positioning and awful sky (it's really overcast here in Wellington today), it manage to get five, sometimes six satellites over our heads.


This is my first experience with a SiRF Start III chipset GPS, since the other Globalsat devices here were tested by other reviewers, and so far it's been much better than an old generation GPS I had around (an old Pharos GPS).

I will pair with my Windows Mobile Pocket PC later and use it with the Navman software to navigate around town.




Digg, here comes your competitor

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jun-2006 16:30

AOL is putting its weight behind the idea of crowd voting for stories, and changing the Netscape portal into a kind of Digg site. The new site will run on http://www.beta.netscape.com/

The change's been managed by Jason Calacanis, who created the Weblogs Inc. empire (owner of Engadget between others), and joined AOL when he sold his company to the big cheese.

Like Digg, users will vote on stories, and the most voted ones will make to the frontpage.
 
Techcrunch thinks that the effects on a small website could be even more devastating than a frontpage on Slashdot or Digg itself.

Unlike Digg though, the new site will also have an editor in each section, promoting specific stories.

More infomation and screenshot on Techcrunch.

UPDATE: The service is probably being hammered, because it loads very slowly for me, when it loads. I can't even login because the login page times out.

UPDATE: The service is now live on the main Netscape site: http://www.netscape.com.



The cost of SMS

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jun-2006 14:11

SMS (the Short Message Service) or text message, the service that allows anyone with a (compatible) mobile phone to send short messages, usually 160 bytes in lenght is certainly here to stay.

I was reading a discussion in the Geekzone forums about the usage of this as a tool for communication, and how mobile operators make it easy for people to get hooked on this service, so that in the future, when they get older, they keep using the more expensive services, eg. voice and data.

But is SMS cheaper, really? At NZ$0.20 each (if you don't have a plan with an allowance) the cost per megabyte (as in 1024 KBytes, as in 1024 Bytes) of data transferred over SMS is... NZ$1310.72, or the equivalent to 6553 short messages.  

So, to transfer 1MB of information through SMS it costs $1310.72 and you have to type (using those little fiddly keypads with flimsy T9 predicitve text recognition) about 6553 SMS.

Right... For me it's much cheaper to get a Pocket PC and send e-mails, which should cost about US$49/GB on some plans currently available.

Note that I am using megabytes as in 1024 kilobytes, kilobytes as in 1024 bytes, the standard binary notation, not the decimal one.




PassBuilder: On-line password generator

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Jun-2006 10:37

Are you like many others and use the same password for every service, web site, ATM card you own?

The folks at Ilium Software have released a simple to use on-line password generator called PassBuilder, where you specify parameters and a new password will be created specially for your use.

And once you have lots of different password, do yourself a favour and use eWallet (for Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Windows Mobile Smartphone, with desktop versions included) so you have all those different passwords handy.








freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
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 freitasm@geekzone.co.nz. 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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