My window to the world

Microsoft wants ISPs to control your desktop

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Jun-2007 10:46

Today I am reading a press release out of Redmond, where Microsoft claims to have created a "Telco 2.0 Vision".

The platform is based on some known and new technologies, including the updated IPTV framework called Microsoft Mediaroom, Microsoft Windows Mobile, Microsoft Solution for Enhanced VoIP Services, Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration, Hosted Microsoft Dynamics for CRM solution, Microsoft Solution for Managed PC, Microsoft Connected Services Framework and Microsoft Connected Services Sandbox.

What caught my attention was the "Microsoft Solution for Managed PC". I never heard of that one before, and just reading the name I had an idea of what would be coming: a way for IPSs to provide a connection with hardware they could manage.

And sure enough, this is what I read on the official Microsoft Solution for Managed PC page:

Many communications solutions provide state-of-the-art hardware at subsidized prices linked to monthly service contracts. Now, Microsoft brings the same strategy to broadband service providers. The Microsoft Solution for Managed PC allows broadband service providers to deliver a compelling new offering: a state-of-the-art computer packaged with broadband service, PC health and security software at a completely new, more affordable price point.

With the Microsoft Solution for Managed PC, broadband service providers can increase revenue, gain market share, and even create new, deeper relationships with their customers by streamlining problem resolution. What’s more, the affordability of the Managed PC solution means that service providers can reach more consumers and small businesses than ever before and the flexibility of the solution allows them to address specific sub-segments with targeted offerings.

It sounds good, right? But it seems that for you or your company to get just the right PC for your needs, you would have to subject its management to a third party.

This would be akin to having your PC as an appliance (which it is), pretty much like those cable TV set top boxes, or those satellite boxes. With not much freedom of choice:

The Managed PC comes complete with security protection that provides an all-in-one PC care solution featuring firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing, back-up capabilities, and parental controls to further simplify PC ownership for first-time users. With the Solution for Managed PC (SMPC) security products, service providers can improve the user experience for both consumer and small business customers by automatically scanning the Managed PC for common network, printing, or communication malfunctions, reducing the expense and inconvenience of computer downtime.

This should surely reduce the number of people affected by phishing scams, trojan software and botnets. But do you trust your ISP to decide what's better for you or your needs? What about those cases where some security software deleted entire e-mail repositories, or made PCs a paper weight?

Can you imagine if all the users on an ISP go down at the same time?

Not much "Personal" left in the Computer (PC) it seens. Welcome to the Nanny Internet.

New users arriving on the Internets...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Jun-2007 22:51

I think there must be a wave of new users arriving on the Internets. I say this because in the last few months I have received a series of disturbing e-mails, at least one a day, but sometimes more.

Those e-mails are disturbing because they show more people are using the tubes withouth really realising what it is and how it works.

Some people can't distinguish between Interent domains for example, and how they relate to companies. Here at Geekzone I receive e-mails that clearly should be directed to Vodafone New Zealand, Telecom New Zealand, and other companies:

[name removed] from Inglewood, New Zealand contacted Geekzone.

Notes: Please note new change of address
[address removed]
Please send account to this new address

[name removed] from Palmerston North, NZ contacted Geekzone.
Notes: My contract is No [removed]
I have had my cell phone stolen/go missing. I understand that the policy includes an insurance policy that covers this.

who do I see un PN to obtain a replacement?? Can you also send me a copy of the contract? I do not seem to hae one, noy sure but I cannot remember getting one.

Phone my father on 027 [removed] if you wish to discuss anything.

[name removed] from Upper Hutt, New Zealand contacted Geekzone.
Notes: your site tells me my password is incorrect.Cant get my emails.please sort it

[name removed] from Christchurch, NZ contacted Geekzone.
Notes: Slingshot webmail is crap!It is sooooooo slloooooow to do ANYTHING!!!!!!!! It takes a minute or
more to delete something or change a page!!!!! FRUSTRATING FRUSTRATING!!!! I used to use incredimail
which is way quicker and user friendly (Now there's a thought!) I was meant to change to outlook express but that doesn't bloody work at all. So I'm stuck with your crap site!!
I've had this problem for  a week and usually have to be on hole for an hr to ring through. NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!!

[name removed] from AUCKLAND, NZ contacted Geekzone.
Notes: my account no [removed] mobile no [removed] for vodem. please note my change of address as follows.
[address removed] Papakura. Auckland.  Please acknowledge via email or post.

[name removed] from Auckland, New Zealand contacted Geekzone.
Notes: The above account has been disconnected - but account was paid on 11 May 2007 by Direct Credit.
This is a business phone and most important that it is reconnected immediately.   Please advise. cellphone # is 021 [number removed].

[name removed] from Auckland, NZ contacted Geekzone.
Notes: We have not received our Vodafone statement for May 07. This could delay payment.DPGT

[company name removed] from Auckland, New Zealand contacted Geekzone.
Notes: Would a customer services representative phone our land line on 09 [number removed] to organise a cancellation of part of our account no: [account removed].
[name removed]

[name removed] Group Limited from Wellington, NZ contacted Geekzone.
Notes: Could someone please contact me on my mobile phone number.  Sarah [name removed] was our accounts person who has now left.  I have been trying for over a months now to make contact with someone but keep being fobbed off, even when going into Thorndon Quay office I was told no one was available. 
I have a problem that needs to be sorted and quite frankly am sick of chasing you guys round for some very simple answers.

[name] from auckland, nz contacted Geekzone.
Notes: please disconect  my dial up connection .my customer number is [removed].
invoice no. [removed] .thank u for service.

Notes: Hi.My name is [name removed].
[full address removed]
PH. [mobile phone removed]
Email [email address removed]
I ordered a phone 19/05/07.Can you tell me if you recieved this order and when will it arrive?
Order No.[removed]
Code 010444.
Samsung Z400V-Black.
I paid by BNZ Visa.
$99.00 incl. Gst & delivery.
I recieved an Email confirming this order 19/05/07,but nothing since.

Mrs CJ [name removed] from Wellington, NZ contacted Geekzone.
Notes: I want to speak to someone at Vodafone about a billing error and it is impossible to get a real person.  Could you please get someone to contact me ASAP.  I do not want my service restricted as threatened by Vodafone text received today 29/05/07.

Thank you

I read somewhere that many people "browse by Google", basically ignoring the address bar in their browsers, and going directly to The Google, entering a company name in the search box, visiting the first result (or any result on that page). I think this is what happens when people contact me with some requests:

This is an interesting phenomenon, because it started happening more and more since October 2006, when broadband prices dropped and this kind of service became more accessible in the country.

Another possibility is that people are simply sick of trying to talk to their service providers. It looks like they can't get through Vodafone or Telecom's call centre, the stores are of no help and so on. In this case these e-mails also show the current status of customer services in New Zealand.

Google AdWords Business Pages has just been introduced in New Zealand, providing a free webpage for businesses that place advert through Google AdWords, but don't have a web site yet. As Lance Wiggs wrote when commenting on this service:

Of course if you are a business without a webpage, you may not even know what google is… and you certainly wouldn’t be reading this or Geekzone, where I found the report.

Exactly my point. Providing the technology is great, but we need to make it easy for people to understand and use it.

Rod Drury is fighting the right fight for a better broadband infrastructure in New Zealand. But shouldn't we be also thinking about helping whoever is going to be using this?

New Zealand Broadband: priority is Australia

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Jun-2007 12:07

Well said by Peter:

While multi-billion dollar proposals are on the table across the Tasman for the construction of a national fibre-to-the-node network, with our own Telecom joining the G9 proposal for an A$3.6 billion ($NZ4.1 billion) build-out, moves are also afoot to improve Australia's international capacity.

But as Juha at Geekzone points out, Telstra's planned 9000km fibre link between Australia and the US, which is to be built by French equipment maker Alcatel, won't link up New Zealand.

So here we have our largest telco chipping in to fibre Australia while its creaking infrastructure back home struggles to serve up broadband for our existing needs and our second-ranked telco TelstraClear is bypassing a fantastic opportunity to improve international bandwidth capacity for the country.

Telstra seemed like the ideal contender when it came to the prospect of a second cable crossing the Tasman. Now that looks like it is out of the question, are there any other players who would see a business case for laying a new cable?

Unlikely. It's yet another sign, the ditching of its Tauranga mobile network being the other, that Telstra isn't fully committed to the New Zealand market.

Disabling Windows Vista 64 bit Signed Drivers requirement

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Jun-2007 21:40

There are two ways of disabling the requirement for Signed Drivers on Microsoft Windows Vista 64 bit. One is through a command line issuing the command bcdedit /set loadoptions DDISABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS.

The other way (which can be dangerous because it's so easy), is by using the VistaBootPro software. This software is a GUI for the bcdedit command. In their latest version there's a checkbox that performs the same as the command listed before:

Windows Server Event ID: Baby #01

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Jun-2007 10:14

It happens, if you have a 14 month old baby around the house, a home office and the door is open:

I might have to start planning to move my home server to the cupboard...

Check backgroundmotion and share Windows Vista DreamScene content

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Jun-2007 08:00

The guys at mindscape have been busy bringing Backgroundmotion to life, a community website for users of Microsoft Windows Vista Dreamscene with a twist for developers in general.

Windows DreamScene is a feature of Windows Vista Ultimate that allows users to set a movie as their desktop background.

Backgroundmotion users will be able to upload their Windows Media Video files to share, while other users can download the media. As a technology showcase the preview functionality uses the new Microsoft Silverlight to stream the content so people can watch the movies before downloading.

Other usual social features are there, including rating and tags.

Originally the concept was created by two of the Microsoft New Zealand staff, who envisioned a community resource as well as a fully functioning site which could be used for learning. And that's why the entire Backgroundmotion source code is available for download from the Codeplex, so developers can learn how to utilise the technology platform.

Mindscape built the site over 3 weeks, following it up with a series of technical presentations around New Zealand.

Microsoft Windows Home Server RC available now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Jun-2007 07:32

The Microsoft Windows Home Server Release Candidate is available now. It's a great software, based on the Windows Server platform and providing peace of mind for home users with multiple Window-based computers in your network. It also allows lots of Add-ins.

The platform provides automatic backup, shared space for media (pictures, video, music), streaming services and more, including remote access gateway to all computers in your home network.

Partners such as HP will release turn key server solutions ready to install at home. If you are a DYI type of person you only need a keyboard, mouse and monitor to install the software and after that it will run without these peripherals - everything can be remotely managed.

I tried running Hamachi on my test server and it worked really well, so you can even use it for some home networking over the Internet.

All good. That is if you don't have 64 bit OS running at home. In many post in the official Windows Home Server forum, Microsoft employees have announced that Windows Vista 64 bit support could be something in v1, but don't expect this to be actually released until v2.

What a shame. During the International CES 2007 Bill Gates told us (a small private group of website owners) how Microsoft wanted to make a "transparent" transition to 64 bit computing platforms. I think some in the Windows Home Server forgot to read the memo.

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 released

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Jun-2007 16:40

If you are running Virtual Server, good news: Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 has just been released. Download it now.

You will need to shutdown any running virtual machines, and stop the current virtual server in the Services applet. The upgrade is quick and you can then restart your server.

New Zealand Coffee Festival and the Battles of the Baristas

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Jun-2007 15:07

This is not technology related, but since I am really fan of a good espresso coffee, here it goes... I received this press release today:

The New Zealand Coffee Festival and the Battles of the Baristas

The 4th annual New Zealand Coffee Festival ( gets underway at the Alinghi Base on the Viaduct Harbour from August 17-19 with the biggest battles of the baristas the country has ever seen.

Baristas from throughout the country will be seeking to become the inaugural winner of the EQUAL New Zealand Latte Art Championships, plus take away a prize of $2,000.

Plus the Australian barista team, The Baristaroos will be back to take on The Black Cups in the Da Vinci Trans Tasman Barista Challenge with a $4000 prize to the winning three-person team. The final challenge of this annual event will be held at the AHA Hospitality Fair in Adelaide in October when the winning team will be announced. Captain of the New Zealand team is Christchurch barista Carl Sara (pic centre) who is New Zealand barista champion and who is competing in the World Barista Championships in Tokyo this year. Other members are Luciano Marcolino (pic left), also of Christchurch, and David Huang of Auckland (pic at right) with Black Cups Manager Chris White of Auckland, an accredited World Barista Championships judge.

Coffee lovers will be able to enjoy three days of coffee tasting at many of the nearly 50 stands set up at the Alinghi Base featuring New Zealand coffee roasters and coffee companies. There is also food, wine, music, and the latest coffee machines and coffee-related products for sale.

In the EQUAL New Zealand Latte Art Championships, the festival's feature event, 30 of the country's best baristas will compete before a team of judges to make the best coffee-to-go based on taste, speed of preparation and latte art. 

According to Festival Director Michael Guy, this year's Latte Art Championships would be a test run before an application is made to the World Latte Art Championships, run by the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe, for New Zealand to include a competitor.

Also judged at the festival will be freshly roasted coffees from New Zealand's coffee roasters. A team of New Zealand and international judges taste the roasted coffees and award Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, plus a Supreme Award for the highest-scoring individual coffee blend. Last year's big winners were Orb Coffee which won the Supreme Award, while boutique roastery Altezano based in Mt Eden was also a big medal winner.

"The support for this year's festival has been terrific," says Festival Director Michael Guy. "After two years in Taupo and then last year's festival at North Harbour Stadium it's great to bring this event into the heart of Auckland."

Picture from the Coffee Festival website...

GPUGems 3

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Jun-2007 12:21

A friend of mine, Hubert Nguyen, has just pinged on Messenger to let me know about his latest work, GPUGems 3 - and it looks cool:

We are pleased to unveil the cover of the upcoming “GPU Gems 3” book. This image has been rendered in NVIDIA’s “Human Head” demo, which features Doug Jones, who recently starred as the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

The book will be in full color, hard cover, and will contain 41 chapters, including “Advanced Skin Rendering”, which explains how to render ultra-realistic characters. GPU Gems 3 will be released at SIGGRAPH 2007 but can already be pre-ordered.

According to Hubert, "... the book basically contains 41 GPU-related techniques - there's some rendering stuff, image processing, general purpose computing, physics."

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.

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