My window to the world

Free SMS from your Windows desktop and Google homepage

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Apr-2007 10:14

I have just received a press release of an interesting service providing SMS from your desktop in the form of Windows Vista Gadget, Google Homepage Gadget, Yahoo Widget andd even Apple Widget. I am talking about the CallWave SMS product.

I have it now installed in my Windows Vista Sidebar. What it does is allows you to send unlimited SMS to the U.S. and Canada, and during this test phase up to five SMS to other countries, per day.

The press release says you can receive replies, but I couldn't find anywhere in the account to configure this:

For mobile phone users who also use the web each day, the CallWave Free Text Messaging gadget (also known as a widget) delivers invaluable ease and efficiency making the PC a natural companion to the mobile phone. It allows users to send text messages to virtually anyone, anywhere, right from their desktop whether their handset is nearby or not. During the beta, subscribers can send unlimited text messages from the United States and Canada.

The Google Desktop enables consumers to create their own personal homepage on Google. Gadgets can be added from the add stuff link. The CallWave Free Text Messaging gadget can be found in the Communication section or by simply typing in CallWave in the search field. With the gadget running on the Google Desktop, users can view a list of contacts and select who to text.

Replies to the message can be routed to either the subscribers handset or email, depending on their personal settings. Subscribers will eventually be given access to their messages stored in a permanent, searchable archive, accessible from a personal web page.

To get the Google Desktop Gadget, go to or Google

Anyway, the press release is all about the Google Desktop, but if you go to the linked widgets page you will find the other gadgets. There is also a Google Homepage gadget, and you can find it directly on your Google Personalised page instead of using these links.

CallWave also has a gadget you can embed in your website or blog.

An alternative is the Free Gizmo SMS website... It promises to send free SMS around the world, unlimited... But none of the test SMS I sent to my mobile phone ever arrived. So I will stick with the CallWave service for now.

Acer support website

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Apr-2007 18:42

I am looking for  an updated driver for my Acer Ferrari 5000 SD card reader. The Acer website is a mess, there's no way to contact support and one downloading is coming down at 2 kilobytes per second on my 10Mbps connection - while I can download from other sites at 1 megabyte/second.

I need to contact the Acer support to track down the Windows Vista ReadyBoost problems I've seen on this laptop. So far I tested three different SD cards, all high speed and none worked well. It comes down to the SD card reader drivers not returning from a hibernation or sleep state. This obviously requires Acer to fix the drivers for Windows Vista. But how confirm this?

The page entitled "Download Acer drivers, BIOS and applications for Windows Vista" does not have any download link. You actually need to visit a page in our country and try to find your way around. I found this page with Acer drivers for Windows Vista, but some drivers provided through Microsoft's automatic update are newer than the ones provided by Acer.

I've managed to submit a support request now. Let's see how long before getting a reply (I hope it's not like Novatel, who never replied to any of my queries about Windows Vista drivers for their HSDPA cards).

UPDATE: More than ten days and no answer from Acer. I can only say their support is non-existent, even though this is their flagship and most expensive laptop model. Shame on you, Acer.

Windows Vista customisation: desktop for Corvette enthusiasts

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Apr-2007 16:00

This is really interesting. I didn't know you could replace EVERYTHING in the Windows Vista interface, including the Vista Orb. Check out the screenshot of this Corvette Theme for Windows Vista, created by Stardock for General Motors:

The theme includes:

- A complete Corvette visual style that will change the entire user interface
- Icons and buttons focused on the Corvette brand
- An animated Corvette Media Player
- Corvette weather gadget that delivers user-customized information directly to you
- Handy Corvette clock and calendar gadgets for the ultimate customization experience
- Corvette engine “rev” sound lets you know when you have email and plays at startup
- Two Corvette wallpapers to choose from at launch, with additional downloadable wallpaper content updates

This theme (and a lot more) are avaialble from Stardocks. I was just browsing their catalogue and some of those themes are really nice.

Windows Vista VSS annoyance

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Mar-2007 08:23

Every time a program wants to start the Volume Shadow Copy I see these entries in the Windows Event log:

Event ID: 32
Volume Shadow Copy Service error: The VSS Coordinator class is not registered. This may be caused due to a setup failure or as a result of an application's installer or uninstaller.
Instantiating VSS server

Event ID: 8193
Volume Shadow Copy Service error: Unexpected error calling routine CoCreateInstance. hr = 0x80040154.
Instantiating VSS server

There is no documentation at all about these messages. It's been like that since the first time I booted this laptop.

I know the Shadow Copy function is working because I tested with some picture files (right-click a file and select Previous Versions)... But I don't understand why this error shows up when programs want to run backups.

Roll out... Windows 2000 Professional

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Mar-2007 18:14

Yes, I know... After working sixteen years for a system integrator I understand the cost of large projects, and I understand that rolling out Microsoft Windows Vista in a large organisation is no easy task.

But still, I was surprised today when I stopped at my local mall's McDonalds to get a coke (regular, no ice please, but who cares? Not the cashier, who sometimes brings with ice anyway) and noticed that, at last, they have replaced the PC running Windows 95 with a new Dell machine running Windows XP.

Then, walking back to the carpark I've noticed through a window that the local ANZ branch is still running Windows 2000 Professional on their desktops.

The large projects are getting even larger as time goes by...

ReadyBoost testing

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Mar-2007 12:01

I've just invested $113 on a Sandisk Extreme 2GB 133x SD Card from flashcards. Let's see if these Windows Vista ReadyBoost problems are related to my current Transcend 1GB 133 SD card or if it is really just Windows Vista playing up.

If you haven't followed, ReadyBoost works on my laptop (AMD Turion 64 x2) but for no apparent reason (and not logged) ReadyBoost stops working. It could be the card, so I am replacing it to test. If not, then I will have a larger fast new card for my Nikon D50 DSLR.

UPDATE: Doom... The new card fails, like the Transcend I used previously. It could either be the laptop (strange, since it's Windows Vista Premium Ready) or the operating system. I bet it is the operating system.

Windows Vista annoyances

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Mar-2007 13:23

Not a good post for a Sunday morning, but here it is... Four things that annoy me on Windows Vista:

- Microsoft Outlook 2007 is the only software that still shows "... stopped responding. Closing program" when I click File | Exit. Can't they work together in peace?

- Wireless LAN is still a bugger. I found more networks that it won't connect to, with the same driver errors. I've posted in this blog and reported to some Microsoft folks. But this is still happening and no word on fix for this behaviour.

- ReadyBoost stops working without any message. Sometimes I right-click a SD card and find ReadyBoost is no longer available. I know this is the case when I notice my HDD thrashing away. Couldn't they at least give a visual indication, now that the UI is so fancy? I am going to buy a new SD card from another brand, to test the hardware.

- Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC) is a piece of software. Devices will connect or not, at will. Lucky I sync the PIM with my Exchange Server, because this is the most unreliable piece of software ever.

If these things don't go away pretty soon I am sure going to install Windows XP SP2 on this laptop. I am pretty sure some would even suggest Ubuntu. But I am still not ready to spend time learning something new now. Perhaps later.

Windows ReadyBoost is a pain

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Mar-2007 10:05

One of the best features in Windows Vista is actually a pain... I am talking about that great feature that will cache the swapfile to a fast(er) flash memory, reducing the time needed to get applications back from the hard disc into main memory when paging is needed.

Here comes the thing: it works great, when it works. I complained before during Beta 2 about this feature being "faulty", that is it works after a boot, but if the screen saver shows up, or if the laptop goes to sleep, there goes the ReadyBoost. The way to reactivate it is to remove the SD card and insert it again.

This was happening on my Toshiba and now it is happening on this Acer. It could be the SD card though. I will have to buy a new one to test, even though this a very fast SD card, and works most of the times.

You can read about the ReadyBoost in the ReadyBoost FAQ.

Windows Vista: wireless LAN troubles, again

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Mar-2007 17:35

During the Kiwi Foo Camp my Windows Vista-based laptop was having troubles connecting to the wireless LAN routers available. Actually not "having troubles", because it simply wouldn't connect at all. I was very frustrated because that was a full geeky weekend, and I was the only one (about 120 people there) without an usable Internet connection.

Since then I've noticed three or four updates to my wireless LAN driver, all applied.

And then it happened again. During the Geekzone moderators meetup last weekend in Wellington we used the Xero offices, and two out of three Windows Vista-based laptops couldn't connect to the wireless LAN router - including mine.

The event records are bellow:

Wireless network association started.
Network Adapter: Atheros AR5006EXS Wireless Network Adapter
Interface GUID: {D87C0DBD-88FB-446B-8473-D7149528276B}
Local MAC Address: 00:16:CF:65:4D:14
Network SSID: A20
BSS Type: Infrastructure
Authentication: Open
Encryption: WEP
802.1X Enabled: Yes
Wireless network association failed.
Network Adapter: Atheros AR5006EXS Wireless Network Adapter
Interface GUID: {D87C0DBD-88FB-446B-8473-D7149528276B}
Local MAC Address: 00:16:CF:65:4D:14
Network SSID: A20
BSS Type: Infrastructure
Failure Reason: Driver disconnected while associating.
Reason Code: 229378
WLAN AutoConfig service failed to connect to a wireless network.
Network Adapter: Atheros AR5006EXS Wireless Network Adapter
Interface GUID: {D87C0DBD-88FB-446B-8473-D7149528276B}
Connection Mode: Connection to a secure network without a profile
Profile Name: A20
BSS Type: Infrastructure
Failure Reason:The specific network is not available.

Exactly the same errors I found during the Kiwi Foo Camp. I couldn't check any specific technical details on this configuration though, because the technical person wasn't there (it was Saturday).

Lucky this time I had an option, because I was using the Telecom New Zealand new CDMA EVDO card, with incredibly fast speeds.

Next week I am off to Seattle for seven days. If this thing fails again it will be time to seriously consider installing Windows XP on this machine.

UPDATE: A hotfix has been issued for some problems that may be related. Check the Microsoft KB "Several problems occur on a Windows Vista-based computer when you work in a wireless network environment".

Telecom CDMA EV-DO Rev A: Windows Vista drivers work!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Feb-2007 19:39

Yay! I just came back from a meeting with Martin Butler, Telecom New Zealand's General Manager Business Products and I managed to get a brand new Sierra Wireless Aircard 595 CDMA EV-DO Rev A PC card for testing.

The main problem with "testing" is that I use Windows Vista 64 bit on my laptop.

But all went ok. What can I say? I just plugged the Aircard 595 and Windows Vista automatically downloaded WHQL 64 bit signed drivers for the card (yes, I was connected to my home LAN at the time). I then installed the Telecom Watcher software and in no time I had my laptop connected to the new Telecom CDMA EV-DO Rev A network, launched today here in Wellington.

In the meantime, Novatel has not replied to my query about Windows Vista 64 bit drivers (bad Novatel, bad), and Vodafone has announced they have plans to support 64 bit in the future - but no information on when.

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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!

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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.

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