My window to the world

Leave the gun take the cannoli, or the Wellington bloggers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jun-2007 13:50

Well, Lance Wiggs (previously from Trade Me, Fairfax and now in Perth for a few months) has just called me "Godfather", blaming this blog and Juha's Techsploder for lots of traffic on the New Zealand blogging scene.

This funny note comes as part of his own post with comments and corrections about the Wellington-based bloggers connections.

Thanks for the mention!

Where is the Treo 750v HSDPA update?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jun-2007 11:39

When Vodafone launched the Palm Treo 750v in New Zealand we heard the promise of a software update to bring HSDPA to this Windows Mobile device.

Later I was told that this update wasn't going to be released, pending a Windows Mobile 6 update that would include it.

Today is three months since Palm announced its intention to release Windows Mobile 6 OS for the Treo 750 (the non-Vodafone branded version of the device), but nothing has happened since then. Interesting to note that Palm launched the Treo 750 with HSDPA already enabled, unlike Vodafone.

Seeing that Vodafone New Zealand's Windows Mobile partner i-mate is not being very active (the new Advantage series won't be released until later in the year), and HTC is not active at all in New Zealand, it means we are not seeing any new exciting smart devices coming out with this OS.

The most exciting launch this year seems to be the Nokia N95, and it runs on Symbian OS, not Windows Mobile. Discussions in our Geekzone Forums have been really good. Check paradoxsm's blog for interesting comments, thoughts and some hacks (how to disable the red light on N95 for example).

A month or so ago I received a Sony Ericsson M600i for review (thanks Sony Ericsson), but I have to say it didn't excite me much. Something strange about its design and keyboard. I actually have to send it back this week, to be fair.

I have heard rumours Telecom New Zealand will release the PPC-6800 (HTC Mogul) here in New Zealand. I also heard that they were told not to talk to me about this device - as if I ever leaked anything before. But if they don't trust, well, their problem.

Vodafone billing systems still with problems after the pit stop

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jun-2007 09:40

It appears the Vodafone New Zealand billing system is not without problems after the company's "pit stop", a six week period which impacted customers' ability to check their account, query balances, update plans, even pay parking via SMS.

I received my second Vodafone bill for the period after the pit stop and with it came a surprise:

I paid the previous bill ($140.48) via Internet Banking on the due date 18 June but it seems that the due date for the previous bill coincided with the issue date on the new bill - so obviously my payment did not show up - silly system theirs.

But then I found out Vodafone do not have a record of my payment, even five days after the payment was made.

When I called them last week I was told there was no record of my payment and the CSR asked me for my bank account number so someone in the accounts team can look for this transaction. It's really strange, because I shouldn't need to provide this information - I mean, a simple query on their database surely would show a payment of $140.48 on that specific date, with my Vodafone account number in the reference code field, without the need of such personal information.

At the time the CSR also "added a note to the account, so people know there's a payment in process and don't cut if off".

Now it is Monday morning and I can see the payment finaly made through, although with the wrong date (23 June) instead of the correct payment date. Also the payment only showed up today in their on-line system, but with a date after the actual payment was made. I hope the system is a bit smarter this time and don't put me in the "defaults" list.

I am not alone complaining about problems with Vodafone's new system.

What is really annoying is their message just on top of my incorrect "overdue notice":

Good news! We've completed the upgrade of our systems. Vodafone balance, billing and account services are now back to normal.

A six month vulnerability analysis of Windows Vista

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jun-2007 10:34

Jeff Jones has updated his report on Windows Vista vulneraility analysis, with results including the first six months since launch.

This chart shows how many vulnerabilities were reported for some OS in the market, in the same period (six months after launch):

The full report, with links and explanations is available as a pdf.

Belkin Customer Services

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jun-2007 15:00

Many times I read on the Geekzone forums about bad customer services, and I have posted here in this blog some of my own experiences as well.

As usual I also try to bring balance by posting about my good experiences... As my latest encounter with Belkin's Customer Service.

About a year ago I purchased a Belkin 800VA Universal UPS. Great product, works as advertised and I was so happy that I decided to purchase a second unit - the Belkin 1200VA Universal UPS. The idea was to be able to connect all the remaining equipment in the home office - the Apple iMac, a LAN switch, the router, and the cordless phones connected to my SPA 2102 VoIP gateway to those two UPS.

By chance the old Belkin 800VA faulted just a couple of hours after I've placed my order on-line for the second larger unit! So I had to run my whole office from the mains for a day, until I got the 1200VA unit. But in the meantime I contacted Belkin support to ask how to proceed with the older UPS, now dead as a dodo...

And here comes the good thing: after a few e-mails (very quick replies!) Belkin arranged to have a replacement unit sent - and it has just arrived, exactly a week after my first e-mail was sent. There was no confusion on what, how, where - and I now have to simply post the faulty unit back.

That's right, Belkin first solved my problem, then worried about having the faulty unit back.

Now, if some of the telcos in Australia and New Zealand could learn customer services from these guys...

This is so wrong: Airbus receives certification for on-board mobile system

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Jun-2007 11:16

Remember to enjoy your next twelve hours long haul flights from Auckland to San Francisco, or from Sydney to London.

If things are going the way Airbus wants, soon people will be able to send and receive voice calls and SMS on board of aeroplanes.

This is so wrong... Can you imagine if you just happens to sit next to someone shouting instructions to their managers, or participating on a conference call, or simply having a few "beep" every time someone sends or receive a SMS?

People trying to sleep with all that background noise is already bad. It's gonna get worse. We will soon see "Non Smoking, Non Mobile Phones" flights being announced...

It is going to be hell on air.

Loop Select 008 giveaway

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Jun-2007 10:57

I have a copy of "Loop Select 008: a rare vision" to giveaway to one my blog readers.

Microsoft has partnered with local recording company LOOP to present a multimedia time capsule of creative culture.

Loop Select 008: Rare Vision is a CD/DVD/book box set featuring cutting edge up-and-coming local and international music acts, thoughtfuls short films, motion graphics, stencial art, graphic design and photos.

Just post a comment here and next Wednesday (27 June) I will draw a name from the list.

Fake Steve Jobs is funny, but needs some geography lessons

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Jun-2007 09:45

It's true. Fake Steve Jobs is funny. But calling Nokia "a bunch of filthy Swedes" (Nokia is a Finnish company) and writing that Lisbon is in Lebanon (Lisbon is the Portuguese capital, 3,000 miles from Lebanon) just helps to add to the stereotype many have that Americans don't know anything outside their borders.

Well, we don't even know if Fake Steve Jobs is based in the U.S. anyway...

Watch Motorola designers and engineers working together

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Jun-2007 09:07

I've just received a tip for a short (five min) movie called The Shape of Phones showing the thinking behind Motorola design, development, and testing of mobile phones.

Interesting view of "sizes". When is a milimeter large or small?

An open letter to illegal software distribution sites

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Jun-2007 08:54

Alex Kac, the guy behind Pocket Informant wrote something today that needs reposting and linking here. It may be just another voice, and may not change much, seeing that a lot of people still think it's ok to get software for free, denying the just compensation for the work done by many developers around the world. But it is important to listen to this voice.

Here is a bit of Alex Kac's open letter to warez sites:

Myself and a band of software devs here have found a *very* large pirate warez site which I will not link to. They have cracks for almost everything imaginable. They have our software on there with download ratios in the TENS of THOUSANDS. In many cases I find more downloads of our software on the warez site than I see on our own download servers. I've calculated that even if we only lost 10% of those downloads that could have been sales its a pretty major hit.

The fact is that companies like ours and most other WinMobile devs operate on a shoestring budget. Most of our software sells at a break-even point, some at a loss until it breaks even 2-4 years after introduction. For the amount of money I've "lost" I could have *easily* created a Pocket Informant for Desktop or BlackBerry or heck other major applications or improvements. I could have hired an extremely high paid developer for a year or two averagely paid ones. For a company that has only 3 full time developers that's a fairly major loss.

The fact is that piracy hurts those who pirate. They want our software obviously. Some just use it for a "test", but we offer a two week trial and with a bit of work you can probably get 2-3 months free usage of our products a year. And we don't sell for a large amount of money. Just wait and you can usually get our software for a steal - without actually stealing. I don't think paying $9.95 is such a huge issue if you need an app like VoiceMinder. Its barely a lunch and drink. But the reason piracy hurts those who pirate is because they are like vampires slowly killing the company that they are sucking the applications off of.

Who here would care if there was never a VoiceMinder, FlexWallet, FlexMail, or Pocket Informant upgrade again? I have personally had fleeting thoughts of selling WebIS or just closing it down because even as this market has grown the software market has not and while I'm not naive enough to think its *all* about piracy, I know that it just makes me depressed. And no, we're not closing down and yes there will be major upgrades of everything. And yes, piracy has been part of the software business from the very beginning but that doesn't mean I can't ask you to stop.

And therein lies my plea to you. If you actually use our software please pay for it. When you don't you personally are contributing to the financial downfall of a bunch of people who are working hard to make good quality software for you. If you don't want to think of piracy as theft, think of it as stiffing us. Would you stiff the waiter of a tip? How about the guy who built your house? How about the plumber or the electrician? Or the Taxi cab driver? And yes, software does cost money to make. I pay electric bills, Microsoft dues, travel expenses to meet with MS devs, trade shows, advertising, not to mention salaries. So if you wouldn't stiff the waiter at your favorite restaurant his 15% (or 10% if you're money concious) tip, why stiff us the few bucks we ask?

WebIS has always been extremely liberal in our licensing as well. We don't use activation (we've thought about it), we don't lock our license to your username, we don't do anything to make licensing hard. We let you run our software on as many devices that you personally use and we use the honor system. Heck, we even make 2-3 versions of our software in most cases and let you pay for one and get them all.

This is an important issue. A lot of people hack their creations and distribute for free. Others create their applications and sell them because it's their way to pay for things in life. Try to undersdant this.

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!

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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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