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Could Coketunes be an example why DRM is bad?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-May-2007 21:39

I don't think coketunes will get Juha's money - not back when they launched in August 2005, not now when they have announced the end of their music service:

After almost two years of providing New Zealanders with access to a huge range of local and international digital downloads, is closing.

CokeTunes customers have three months (until 10 August 07) to use their existing credit. It's been a great couple of years, with profits going to the NZ local music industry through CokeTunes Music Fund grants. Recipients included Ladi6, who received $15,000 to help produce her debut album, My Life Story who opened the EdgeFest tour, and The Madison Press who took away $12,000 worth of gear from the Rock Shop.
Coca-Cola is changing its approach to supporting New Zealand music with a brand new project which will bring local music directly from the street to the Kiwi music lover.

Coketunes is a Coca-Cola branded digital music service for the New Zealand market, but it was also available in other countries.

I am currently looking for comments on this from anyone using coketunes. Their FAQ says the music download service offers "Windows Media Audio file (WMA) [is the format available in this shop]. Our tracks are encoded at 128kbps and are protected by Microsoft Windows Media Digital Rights Management."

So what does it mean? Are people who purchased their music through this service protected and will be able to play their DRM-protected tracks after the company closes the service? Or will the songs expire after a certain time, bringing more rage against services who chose to use DRM technologies to protect content?

Of course this does not happen if you buy a CD and rip it to have an easy to carry version on your poertable media player or laptop. But with DRM this is always a risk - buy a music today, it's gone tomorrow.

I have contacted coketunes for a comment on what happens now with content bought through the store, but I have not received a reply yet, even though their contact form says "an answer reply will be sent in 24 hours or by Monday if the query is submitted on a weekend".

Looking through the Coca-Cola website wasn't very helpful either. Their last press release is from 2004, three years ago and there's no contact information anywhere to be found.

Perhaps they have closed support already?

Kiwi Made Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget list updated

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-May-2007 20:02

I've just noticed that Microsoft New Zealand has updated their web page with "Kiwi Made" Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets, including our very own Geekzone Gadget for Windows Vista Sidebar.

The list now includes the following Gadgets:

- Trade Me
- Television New Zealand
- New Zealand Herald
- Geekzone
- DigiRAMA
- TrafficWatch
- PowerShell Gadget

They also have links to gadgets for Air New Zealand flight special, New Zealand radios and New Zealand weather.

Seybold's tell it like it is

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-May-2007 21:08

Andrew Seybold blog's tagline is "Tell it like it is", and this is what he's to say about his recent trip to New Zealand, when I had the opportunity to chat with him about some of the local capabilities:

There are two wireless operators in New Zealand: New Zealand Telecom and Vodafone NZ. Telecom runs a CDMA network with EV-DO Rev A, and Vodafone runs a GSM/UMTS network. The government is thinking about taking some of their spectrum away and re-auctioning it to encourage more competition, but I’m not sure that a country with a population of 4 million can sustain more wide-area voice and data networks. It is also getting ready to auction spectrum in the 2.3-GHz band, and while that spectrum is not being tied to a specific technology, the interest, as you might surmise, is mainly from companies that would like to roll out WiMAX. The usual misleading information about the capabilities of WiMAX preceded me to New Zealand and, of course, I had a few words to say about its true capabilities.

As I mentioned, the big discussion is how to get broadband to everyone in New Zealand, no small feat. They understand that simply building a network or combination of networks is not enough and that they have to educate the population about broadband access and why it is important to all of them

How true...

Live Search for RIM BlackBerry

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-May-2007 09:38

A quick note to our readers using RIM BlackBerry devices (and other J2ME mobile phones): you can now download a beta version of Live Search for mobile compatible with RIM BlackBerry devices!

The main page for Live Search for mobile contains information about the software, what it does and more. Originally developed for Windows Mobile devices, you can now use it with J2ME clients - which means almost any mobile phone these days.

Even if you don't have a compatible handset, it is still possible to search by sending a SMS (only in the U.S. though).

With the client on your handset you can get maps, traffic information, local information and search. Go check it out.

Download the updated Geekzone Gadget for Windows Vista Sidebar

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-May-2007 21:58

If you have downloaded our Geekzone Gadget for Windows Vista Sidebar on its first release, please download it again... That first version had a problem that would cause the gadget to reload the feed every 30 seconds if a disconnection occurred.

This gadget will keep an eye in all our forums and show the ones with most recent topics or replies on top of the list. You can then click on a forum name to see the most recent discussions with posts or replies. You will also see a colour coded "meter" showing how busy the forum is.

Also, I've noticed a few IP addresses hammering the XML feed, at rates of up to five times per second. Since this doesn't look like normal traffic we are now blocking these IP addresses. If you try to access Geekzone and see an error message, then please contact us.

IT and New Zealand Daylight Savings update

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-May-2007 10:48

Prepare your IT department folks, we don't have much time now - and ask your friendly OS supplier to update their OS. New Zealand is changing its Daylight Saving Time period from 2007.

Like the U.S. did this year with its Energy Policy Act of 2005, New Zealand is also changing the DST, according to the Department of Internal Affairs:

New Zealanders will have three weeks more daylight saving from 30 September this year following the decision by the Labour-led Government to extend the period to 27 weeks, Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker announced today.

Clocks will go forward an hour a week earlier than usual - on the last Sunday in September- and back an hour on the first Sunday in April, instead of the third Sunday in March. This is the first change in daylight saving since 1990.

“The earlier start will also avoid clashing with the start of the fourth school term, which has caused disruptions for schools and families in the past. However more broadly over the longer term we will also be monitoring the effects on other parts of the economy, such as the energy sector, to see if there are long term sustainable benefits.

“Part of this ongoing monitoring will include the Department of Internal Affairs actively engaging in research that identifies potential positive and sustainable impacts experienced by other territories that have extended their daylight saving regimes,” said Rick Barker.

Rick Barker directed the Department of Internal Affairs to review daylight saving following public debate generated by Nelson City Councillor Mark Holmes in March 2006. Mr Holmes and United Future leader Peter Dunne recently presented a petition to Parliament on this issue.

“The Department of Internal Affairs will now work with computer companies and industries to update operating systems incorporating the time changes before the start of daylight saving,” Rick Barker said.

Daylight saving for 2007-08 will start at 2am on 30 September 2007 and end at 3am on 6 April 2008.

Now, "include the Department of Internal Affairs actively engaging in research that identifies potential positive and sustainable impacts experienced by other territories that have extended their daylight saving regimes" should really include reading the conclusions that extending the U.S. DST did not provide any benefit in terms of energy savings (Ars Technica, Reuters):

As it turns out, the US Department of Energy (and almost everyone else except members of Congress) was correct when they predicted that there would be little energy savings. This echoed concerns voiced after a similar experiment was attempted in Australia. Critics pointed out a basic fact: the gains in the morning will be offset by the losses at night, and vice-versa, at both ends of the switch. That appears to be exactly what happened.

Reuters spoke with Jason Cuevas, spokesman for Southern Co. power, who said it plainly: "We haven't seen any measurable impact." New Jersey's Public Service Enterprise Group said the same thing: "no impact" on their business.

There's an economical impact though, and this comes from all those technology-based businesses and tools that need to have their processes, computers, instruments adapted with all the potential for trouble.

For example, is anyone from Microsoft on the ball working on this update for all their operating systems? Remember, as I posted before, ANZ still uses Windows 2000 Professional.

And what about people using Windows Mobile devices? They never got the New Zealand DST right anyway, and I received e-mails from people at Telecom who had CxO level people missing flights because the timezone on their Pocket PCs were not changing on time with their Exchange Servers (and no this is not a Telecom problem, it happens with any Windows Mobile when synchronising with Exchange Servers during the first and last week of New Zealand DST).

This problem was reported to Microsoft many times, but I've never seem a fix - impossible they said. But when the U.S. changed their DST a fix came for them. Very convenient, right?

Do you run Java applications in your infrastructure? Check out Sun's explanation on how Java applications can be affected byt DST:

The United States has planned a change to its DST observance beginning in 2007. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandates that DST will start on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November. In 2007, the start and stop dates will be March 11 and November 4, respectively. These dates are different from previous DST start and stop dates. In 2006, the dates were the first Sunday in April (April 2, 2006) and the last Sunday in October (October 29, 2006).

Some countries are still evaluating whether they will adopt the new rules for themselves. You should anticipate more changes in DST and time zone rules for countries that typically align with U.S. DST rules.

The Java Runtime Environment (JRE) stores rules about DST observance all around the globe. Older JREs will have outdated rules that will be superseded by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. As a result, applications running on an older JRE may report incorrect time from March 11, 2007 through April 2, 2007 and from October 29, 2007 through November 4, 2007.

So, did the New Zealand government take in consideration the monumental task IT departments have ahead of them now? Analysing, coding, testing, deploying, testing DST changes?

What sectors would be impacted? Tourism, telecommunications, broadcasting, distribution channels. Anything with a computer.

Let's just hope people have already started working on this, because September 2007 is just around the corner from now.

Security Enhancements in Windows Vista

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-May-2007 21:40

If you are interested in knowing what security features were introduced with Windows Vista, then the "Security Enhancements in Windows Vista" whitepaper is for you.

This article highlights security enhancements in Windows Vista, the most secure version of Windows yet.

This article includes information about security enhancements in Windows Vista and how Microsoft used the Security Development Lifecycle to increase the security of the Windows operating system.

This is the list of topics covered in that whitepaper:

Security Enhancements in Windows Vista 
Windows Vista: The Most Secure Version of Windows Yet 
A key milestone on the path to Trustworthy Computing 
Windows Vista: New features, new choices 
Engineering a Secure Operating System: The Security Development Lifecycle 
The impact of the SDL 
Security is a process 
Under the Hood of Windows Vista 
Windows service hardening 
More defense-in-depth: NX and ASLR 
64-bit security enhancements: Kernel patch protection and driver signing 
New User, Network, and Application Security Options 
User Account Control 
Windows Defender 
Windows Firewall 
Windows Security Center 
Network Access Protection 
New logon architecture 
Easier smart card deployment 
New Data Protection Options 
BitLocker™ Drive Encryption 
Integrated Rights Management Services client 
Encrypting File System enhancements 
Security Options in Internet Explorer 7 
Microsoft Phishing Filter 
Extended validation SSL certificate support 
Internet Explorer Protected Mode 
URL handling protections 
ActiveX Opt-in 
Fix My Settings 

How much (in GB) is your monthly bandwidth usage?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-May-2007 13:36

If you are here in New Zealand check this discussion that Tony Hughes, one of our Geekzone moderators, started:

What's your usage figures lookin' like?

The thread is just a list of how much bandwidth people consume - and I've seen extreme cases such as 600 MB/month through 60 GB/month (my own is about 46 GB month).

So, why don't you join the discussion and post your numbers there?

Internet access for travellers in New Zealand's South Island

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-May-2007 12:53

Interesting post by Jon Udell:

Notwithstanding my rationalization the other day, you’ll certainly want to bring your camera. You might reasonably opt to leave your laptop home, though, because Internet access from hotels here is a comedy of errors. The most absurd moment came last night when I checked into a hotel in Christchurch. I bought an access card for the WiFi service for $10, scratched it to reveal the access code, and…it smudged completely! I could not believe it! This card has only one purpose in life — to reveal a string of hex digits — and it cannot even manage to do that. Incredible!

Right, this is another example that shows that all the talk about our broadband infrastructure is still in early stages. We talk about fiber to the premises and mesh wi-fi, but it seems people forget about business needs. What about wireless access at airports (fair enough, the Wellington airport now offers free wi-fi in the main area)? What about the Auckland airport, our gateway to the world?

And what about hotels? I've been to some hotels here in New Zealand and Internet access seems to be last thing they think off. My parents-in-law spent a week in Queenstown in a posh place, and they only had access to dial-up - incredibly stupid idea, seeing that people visiting New Zealand coming from overseas will not have dial-up accounts in this country.

About Jon's trip to Wellington (before going to the South Island), he was attending the GOVIS conference, a very exclusive forum for companies or individuals that:

- [They] are part of the New Zealand Defence Force
- [They] are the New Zealand Police Force
- [They] are the New Zealand Parliamentary Service
- [They] are the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service
- [They] are the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau
- [They] are the Reserve Bank of New Zealand
- [They] are the Office of the Clerk
- [They] are the Parliamentary Counsel Office
- [They] are an Office of Parliament

If you want to know what Jon talked about during his keynote at GOVIS, check his post "Shared Navigation of online bureaucracies":

In my talk on Friday at the GOVIS (government information systems) conference in Wellington, I wasn’t the only one to suggest that web 2.0 attitudes will change the relationship between governments and citizens. That notion now seems to be pretty firmly established, and the question is not whether citizens will collaborate with their governments, but rather how.

Among other developments, I think we’ll soon see a refreshing new approach to the consumption of government services. A couple of weeks ago at Berkeley’s school of information I met Anna Kartavenko, one of Bob Glushko’s graduate students, She’s working on ways to make the byzantine California regulatory apparatus more accessible. If you’re starting a business in that state, it’s really hard to figure out which licenses you need to apply for, as well as how (and in what order) to apply for them.

I didn't even know this thing existed... Jon Udell now works for Microsoft. Gotta go and subscribe to his feed now.

The perils of search engines in the wrong hands

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-May-2007 15:42

Last weekend I was talking to friends about the risk of search engines releasing information - any information - about your searches on-line, and unintended consequences, such as insurance companies changing the premium on your life insurance based on knowing that you have searched for information on a known disease.

This was an interesting discussion because it was timely. What if a person searching on you is not qualified to assess the value or quality of the information retrieved?

Andrew Feldmar, a Vancouver psychotherapist, was on his way to pick up a friend at the Seattle airport last summer when he ran into a little trouble at the border.

A guard typed Mr. Feldmar’s name into an Internet search engine, which revealed that he had written about using LSD in the 1960s in an interdisciplinary journal. Mr. Feldmar was turned back and is no longer welcome in the United States, where he has been active professionally and where both of his children live.

Mr. Feldmar, 66, has a distinguished résumé, no criminal record and a candid manner.

This is not the first time I read about border guards searching people's names on Google and deciding to turn the visitor away based on those results. But what if someone has been the victim of a Google Bomb?

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.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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