My window to the world

Live UK TV: FIFA World Cup 2006 Germany

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Jun-2006 23:01

Just found out about http://www.liveuktv.com/ and subscribed to it - at least during the FIFA World Cup 2006.

The service streams live UK TV over the Internet, including BBC1, BBC2, itv and Channel 4. This costs US$45/month.

Not cheap, but I can watch the matches from my PC at home while working on Geekzone. And cheaper than having a new channel installed just for this month. Oh, and I can watch anywhere where I have a laptop with me.

I also have to test this with the Pocket PC - although something tells me that the DRM license acquisition may be a problem on those devices. And Wi-Fi would probably suck the device's battery if used during the 90 minutes match.





House Rejects Net Neutrality

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Jun-2006 17:54

According to a report on C|NET, the House of Representatives rejected the concept of Net Neutrality by 269-152.

The implication here is that US-based providers will be able to differentiate traffic based on their own requirements, and according to some defending the principle this could impact on smaller websites and services, which could not compete with larger organisations if everything came down to money - paying to have your traffic flowing ahead of the competition.

"The future Sergey Brins, the future Marc Andreessens, of Netscape and Google...are going to have to pay taxes" to broadband providers, said Rep. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat behind the Net neutrality amendment. This vote will change "the Internet for the rest of eternity," he warned.


For Americans, you can read more about this issue and outcomes here.

We have some Net Neutrality experience here in New Zealand, but not all is neutral. Some ISPs decided to peer with others and exchange traffic, through the Wellington Internet Exchange and others (Auckland, Palmerston North, Dunedin and more on the way). This guarantees a faster flow of data inside the country.

The problem is that not all ISPs agreed to peer, or decided to remove themselves from the peering exchanges. The results is that some of the New Zealand national traffic is actually routed somewhere overseas before coming back, making the whole Internet a lot slower for users here.

I know that two largest ISPs in New Zealand, Xtra and TelstraClear, are not peering, which may well cause delays in national traffic for the majority of Internet users in this country.

For example, when I try to see a stream from the Citylink Wellington Webcams I am actually greeted with a page explaining how sorry they are, explaining:

The various webcams that Citylink runs generate significant data traffic - during the day, about 20Mb/s, at night, about 10Mb/s. At peak times, it has moved as much as 700Mb/s of data. In the past, Citylink has incurred significant costs in delivering content from the webcams to users. I've been told never to let that happen again.

Thus, it has become necessary for Citylink to configure some of our services such that we don't run up a bill, by limiting access only to ISP's that choose to peer on WIX. These are generally high volume, low financial return services that are provided to encourage a competitive, vibrant and strong telecommunications and information technology industry.


Shame, really, because these decisions impact in the overall Internet usability in both cases.




Net Neutrality: contact your representative now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Jun-2006 11:28

I just received this e-mail from Google CEO, Eric Schmidt. Although I don't live in the USA, many of our readers do, so I decided to publish it here.

Also this is a most important issue, as explained in the letter.

Dear AdSense Publisher,

There's a debate heating up in Washington, DC on something called "net neutrality" – and the outcome of this debate may very well impact your business. Therefore, we are taking the unprecedented steps of calling your attention to this looming crisis and asking you to get involved.

Sometime in the next few days, the House of Representatives is going to vote on a bill that would fundamentally alter the Internet. That bill would give the big phone and cable companies the power to choose what you will be able to see and do on the Internet.

Today the Internet is an information highway where anybody – no matter how large or small, how traditional or unconventional – has equal access to everyone else. On the Internet, a business doesn't need the network's permission to communicate with a customer or deploy an innovative new service. But the phone and cable monopolies, who control almost all broadband Internet access, want the power to choose who gets onto the high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest. They want to build tollbooths to block the on-ramps for those whom they don't want to compete with and who can't pay this new Internet tax. Money and monopoly, not ideas and independence, will be the currency of their Internet.

Under the proposed "pay-to-play" system, small- and medium-sized businesses will be placed at an automatic disadvantage to their larger competitors. Those who cannot afford the new Internet tax – or who want to compete directly with the phone and cable companies – will be marginalized by slower Internet access that will inevitably make their sites less accessible, and therefore less appealing.

Creativity, innovation and a free and open marketplace are all at stake in this fight. Imagine an Internet in which your access to customers is constrained by your ability to cut a deal with the carriers. Please call your representative in Congress at 202-224-3121. For more information on the issue, and more ways to make your voice be heard, visit www.ItsOurNet.org.

Thank you for your time, your concern and your support.

Eric Schmidt
CEO of Google Inc.

P.S. -- If you are unsure of who represents you in Congress, you can look them up by zip code at http://www.house.gov. And if you would like to stay informed about this issue, and other policy issues affecting Google, you can opt-in to our policy mailing list at http://groups-beta.google.com/group/googlepolicy/subscribe (powered by Google Groups).


You can also find out more about this on this Google page on Net Neutrality.



Google leads Search in the US, MSN trails

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Jun-2006 10:47

Hitwise has just released a report listing the top three search engines in the USA, but number of searches. No surprise there, Google leads the charge in May 2006 with 59.3 of the searches, followed by Yahoo! with 22.0% and MSN Search in the trail with 12.1%.

All other search engines together had 7% of the total search market.

The report says

Google continues to lead the three major search engine providers in market share of executed searches, garnering more than half of the total volume of searches in May for the U.S. As the volume of searches stabilizes across the top three search engines, the battle to supplement search with additional services and win the loyalty of Internet users becomes critical.


Google Spreadsheet, Google Calendar, Google Mail, Google Earth, Google Finance, Google Video, Google Talk, Google Pack, Google Analytics, Google Blogger, Google Page Creator and more...






Telecom QuickChat and Versera: ahead of times

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Jun-2006 10:33

Back in 1999 I designed and lead the team who implemented Telecom New Zealand's QuickChat. The idea was simple: since they didn't have SMS capabilities at the time, and to compete with the new "TXT" crazy coming from the hordes of Vodafone users, Telecom thought of a service where anyone could send a 20 seconds voice message to any other phone.

The message would be delivered instantly or a scheduled retry would kick in. Then SMS came into CDMA world, and Quickchat was all but (almost) forgotten. It is still alive (I think) and the web page is still there. I even met some people during some Windows Mobile User Group meetings that actually prefer to use Quickchat than SMS. It's voice after all, with all the impressions and nuances this medium provide, not the cold SMS lingo.

I also worked in another project, for a Latin American telco, where one could send a SMS to any number, and a text-to-speech engine would deliver it as a voice message, with the same scheduled retry idea.

Skip 9 years, and I see this press release:

Glenayre Messaging, a division of Glenayre Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: GEMS) and a global leader in providing next-generation messaging solutions and enhanced services, announced that VoiceSMS capability will be available on its leading Versera ICE(tm) next-generation messaging platform in the third quarter of 2006. Versera(r) VoiceSMS combines the fidelity of voice mail with the ease of SMS, which allows subscribers to move beyond the limitations of text messaging and provides a new and richer communications experience. The company will demonstrate Versera VoiceSMS for the first time at the CommunicAsia exhibition in Singapore, June 20-23, 2006. (Glenayre stand 4E3-01).

With VoiceSMS, subscribers simply dial a short code and a destination phone number then leave a voice message in an easier and faster way than typing out an entire message on the mobile keypad. The recipient gets an SMS message notifying them that they have a VoiceSMS message, which can be played by selecting the link provided in the SMS message.



Oh well... Reinventing the wheel, add a couple of bells, and we have a new car, right?




My Carbonite backup status

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Jun-2006 11:26

In a previous post I talked about Carbonite (affiliate link), an on-line backup service. This is just an update on how things are going. The status report seems good:

That's right, almost all files/folders I've set for automatic backup are now on the server. Next thing I will try is a restore to see how fast it works.

It took about four days to upload these 5.7GB. My current connection at home is 10Mbps download/2Mbps upload, so this can give you the idea of traffic.

The service costs US$5/month for unlimited storage, so it should be a good off site strategy. Better than copying to an external drive and sending it to some friend's place. At least it is more readily available if I need to restore anything in an emergency.



Another super e-mail: Lycos

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Jun-2006 23:20

My first webmail account wasn't Hotmail. It was Mailcity. This webmail service was later bought by Lycos, one of the many early portals on the Internet. I opened the Mailcity account back in 1995.

For years this was the only webmail I used, and used it for mainly registration in on-line forums. Then I got Hotmail (because of MSN Messenger mainly) and finally GMAIL.

I was just reading my Mailcity e-mails and, surprise, Lycos/Mailcity are upgrading the accounts. The basic free service (ad sponsored) will jump from 5MB to 3GB (yes, from 5 megabytes to 3 gigabytes). And there is no more limits on the size of invidual e-mails.

That's not bad...



Off-site backup: Carbonite

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Jun-2006 18:32

A few of you guys know how paranoid about backup I am... Everything at home is copied to a Maxtor OneTouch 1TB external drive, which stores full HDD images (at least the last four versions, plus incremental backups every hour) of my desktop and tablet PC (using Norton Ghost), plus copies of my Exchange Server, and of course SQL Backup and files from the Geekzone server, which are hosted somewhere in Auckland.

I also have a smaller 60GB external drive which I use to copy the latest version of My Documents from the desktop, so I can travel with a fresh copy of everything that is important.

I was always intringued by on-line backup services though, and (as you know) having a 10Mbps (down)/2Mbps (up) cable-modem connection at home this kind of service started making sense.

But this week I found an interesting offering: Carbonite (affiliate link). It's an interesting service because it runs on my computer in the background. I just have to mark which folders or individual files to backup by right-clicking each in the Windows File Explorer and selecting the Backup/Don't Backup option.

It's also interesting because it costs US$5/month for unlimited storage (although I found out that unlimited is really the "average", but I know some people using more than 60GB already).

The cool stuff is that it doesn't have to be manually initiated. Any file changed since the last backup is automatically copied minutes after the change is completed. Very efficient and hands-off.


Also this is trully a full off-site backup. Even if my Desktop HDD, the Maxtor 1TB or the small 60GB external drive die I still have access to the files on Carbonite (affiliate link).

You can try it free now, and they don't ask for a credit card or anything during the trial. If you don't like it, simply stop using the service - no problems.

Also, if you are interested in promoting the service, you can join their Carbonite affiliate program.








Did unbundling work in Australia?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-May-2006 11:50

Many discussions on the Geekzone forums were centered on the unbundling issue. Arguments were that New Zealand broadband uptake was impacted by Telecom's performance, that Telecom provides bad services, low speeds and capped plans.

Some of the pro-unbundling posted as argument that we should mirror New Zealand's ULL on the Australian experience, which they said "was a success".

But, this is a quote from the executive chairman of Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd in Australia, James Packer, taken from a report on Stuff:

"We need faster broadband speeds in order to stay competitive to the rest of the world and that is starting to be understood, I believe, by all stakeholders.


And he says more:

"Most Australians are not only on slow [broadband] plans but also plans that have download caps.

"This is very unusual compared to other countries all over the world. Australia needs government policy and regulatory certainty to encourage the provision of unmetered fast broadband by the [telecommunications] incumbent [Telstra] and/or other providers."


Ok, so where is the "Australian success" now?






Who is Mini-Microsoft?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-May-2006 17:08

This mysterious character who blogs Microsoft stuff away, launched a dare:

PS: while I toy with the very unlikely idea of coming out from the realm of anonymity and scheme about how to turn Mini-Microsoft into an internal dialogue for honestly improving from within, maybe you've gone and figured out who Mini is. I can't imagine it's that hard. After you get over the quizzical bit of "Who?" why don't you drop on by my office location and we can talk over some espresso.


I think Bill Gates is Mini-Microsoft, and he posts on this blog to help the company move forward.

Ok, enough conspiracy theories...



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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