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TelstraClear upgrading to 25 Mbps?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Apr-2007 09:54

I am sure everyone heard rumours about TelstraClear upgrading their cable modem services to support even faster Internet services in Wellington and Christchurch.

The story going around is that customers will be able to get a 25 Mbps option soon, up from the current maximum 10 Mbps service.

However, have you noticed how the speed has degraded in the last few weeks? I am signed up for the 10 Mbps, but I've noticed really bad times to Australia in the last four weeks. It was really good just before, and one Saturday evening all went down hill.

If 25 Mbps is coming, it would be great to at least have the current service back ot previous levels.

No more signed drivers for Windows Vista 64 bit

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Apr-2007 22:37

I found this today and will try soon, when I have the Vodafone vodem updated to work with Windows Vista:

bcdedit /set loadoptions DDISABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS

This command disables the requirement for signed drivers under Windows Vista 64 bit. Nirvana!

Thanks to Chris123NT for the tip.

By the way, the Vodafone vodem can be updated to work with Windows Vista, but the firmware updater only runs on Windows XP. I don't have any Windwos XP PC here anymore. Might have to borrow one just to update the device.

UPDATE: As mentioned by Brad, this seems to be the fix we have known for some time - and it only works once each time you issue the command. One option could be to run this as a batch file on logoff, through the Scheduler...

UPDATE: I haven't tested yet because I don't need any non-signed driver to be installed right now, but Chris123NT tells me this is persistent across reboots...

Mobile phones are not killing the bees

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Apr-2007 18:22

Incredible FUD on TV3 News just now: a so called "expert" was on TV3 News saying that bees are vanishing because of the humans, and blame on the cell sites...

This is the story from last week, but of course TV3 had to put it on air, even though just yesterday the UC San Francisco declared that it is highly likely a fungus, not cell sites, are forcing the bees to flee their hives.

Free broadband to everyone!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Apr-2007 12:34

The new is impressive:

The government proposes to offer all citizens [...] free, high-speed broadband connectivity by 2009, through the state-owned telecom service.

Is this what we will have here in New Zealand? No, this is actually in India, where 1.1 billion people live on a rather large country.

The idea is to boost economic activity in general. The government of India plans to achieve free broadband connectivity at a speed of 2 Mb per second across the country, [with a similar goal]. Senior government officials expect to be able to achieve this goal spending only a portion of the corpus of the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

All telecom operators contribute 5% of their revenues every year to USOF. It is estimated that the unutilised sum from the USOF has touched Rs 9,194.12 crore by March, 2007-end.

Rs 9,194.12 crore... An Indian crore is ten million - 10^7...

And here in New Zealand we are still fighting for a better infrastructure where a single dominant player has left the country's network behind the ages, impacting in the overall economical development. Let's see if things change when Telecom is split in three - one company just for network operations, separate from the others.

Note that this project includes peering, which is something we really need here in New Zealand:

The department of telecom (DoT) will be taking a series of steps to make its plans for free broadband a reality. These include, using the USOF to set an extensive optic cable network across the country, opening up the long-distance sectors to further competition, allowing free and fair access to cable landing stations, permitting the resale of bandwidth, setting up web hosting facilities within the country and asking all internet service providers to connect to the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI).

And do you think the following sounds familiar?

With international bandwidth rates in India being between two-to-five times higher than the global standards, the DoT will also go all out to break the monopoly of existing national and international distance players in a bid to induce cut throat competition in this sector. “India has only a handful of NLD/ILD operators while small countries such as Singapore and Taiwan have over 30 and 60 long distance operators respectively.

Write an essay and go to jail: only in third world countries?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Apr-2007 13:51

This reads like something happening in a third world country or a country under a severe level of restrictions on free speech. But it happened in America, where a teacher asked students to write an essay, but was so "disturbed" with the writing from a straigth-A pupil that police was called and the teacher had the student rrested for "disordely conduct".

Now, if I understand what's in the Chicago Tribune, this was a private document, created on request, with no specific targets, person or location otherwise. The contents are not disclosed. For our safety?

What's next? People will have their thoughts controlled? Oh, they do this already. If you don't write what they want to read then the police is called upon?

I mean, hello, Stephen King's writing is disturbing for some people...

Now that they started this they should either let people read the essay and let us know what's so disturbing, or get off the back of this student. Otherwise is just plain censorship. Like book burning and obviously a restriction of speech.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Cary Police Chief Ron Delelio said the charge was appropriate even though the essay was not published or posted for public viewing.

Disorderly conduct, which carries a penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine, is filed for pranks such as pulling a fire alarm or dialing 911. But it can also apply when someone's writings can disturb an individual, Delelio said.

"The teacher was alarmed and disturbed by the content," he said.

But a civil rights advocate said the teacher's reaction to an essay shouldn't make it a crime.

"One of the elements is that some sort of disorder or disruption is created," said Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. "When something is done in private—when a paper is handed in to a teacher—there isn't a disruption."

Simmie Baer, an attorney with the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University, called the Cary incident an example of zero-tolerance policies gone awry. Children, she said, are not as sophisticated as adults and often show emotion through writing or pictures, which is what teachers should want because it is a safe outlet.

American Idol voting record: true or the rebirth of war dialers?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Apr-2007 13:05

I just read a press release with some really large numbers:

... a world record-setting event for television telephone voting for AMERICAN IDOL’s ‘Idol Gives Back’ two-night special charity telecast on FOX April 24th and 25th. The April 24th performance telecast included more than 70 million toll-free and AT&T SMS votes cast for the six remaining ‘Idol’ performers.

On Wednesday night, for the two-hour results show spectacular, more than 13,000 live call-center agents, across 31 separate call centers, were involved in ‘Idol Gives Back’ and a mass scale online donation system was set in place for the event.

More than 30 million viewers tune in to AMERICAN IDOL each week to vote for their favorite contestants by dialing into the toll-free telephone numbers or texting in on their AT&T phones.

Ellen DeGeneres hosted the show's live companion event via satellite from downtown Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall. The star-studded evening saw appearances and performances from stars ranging from Earth Wind & Fire and Il Divo to Kellie Clarkson, Celine Dion, Rascall Flats, Annie Lennox, Seal and Bono.

The more than 70 million calls and text messages that came in for ‘Idol Gives Back’ will be added to next Tuesday's tallies, said host Ryan Seacrest. Melinda Doolittle, LaKisha Jones, Blake Lewis, Chris Richardson, Jordin Sparks and Phil Stacey all return for the May 2nd telecast.

This is very interesting news, but then Juha pointed out that people have been willingly downloading and using war dialers to vote for one contestant, in this case gaming American Idol with votes for Sanjaya Malakar:

... is a voluntary install designed to automate the voting process in Idol:

"Sanjaya War Dialer uses your computers modem to automatically dial the American Idol voting number over and over and over again until you tell it to stop. Automatically cast hundreds or even thousands of votes for Sanjaya with the click of a button. Make Sanjaya win and help us ruin American Idol."

The Sanjaya War Dialer has its own MySpace page where users report on their votes — 600 a hour, for some. The show’s producers are aware of this, and have been lopping off blocks of votes if they seem to be coming from power dialers, as they call them, for several weeks.

This is old news (a couple of weeks old), and I am not sure how much of this affected the latest record... But it is interesting to see the "Wisdom of crowds" being played with.

Net neutrality is a fallacy

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Apr-2007 11:56

I have just finished reading Cringely's "We don't need no stinking best effort: Net neutrality may have just been a fantasy all along" and it is indeed an interesting piece.

In it Cringely explains that Net neutrality has been an utopic ideal for some time:

...big broadband ISPs were apparently preparing to offer tiered levels of service and at this point it is a matter of flipping a switch, with the result that Comcast's VoIP might suddenly work a LOT better than Vonage's VoIP, which is to say my fax line.

Well it turns out that I may have, in this case, actually understated the problem. Readers claim that some -- who knows, maybe ALL -- big broadband ISPs are ALREADY running tiered services.

"I used to work at Time-Warner Cable's Road Runner High Speed HQ," wrote one reader, "and as of 2005, TWC marked all VoIP packets with the TOS bit turned to 1. TWC has 5 levels of priority, VoIP having the highest, router tables second, commercial services 3rd, Road Runner consumer 4th and everything else is classified as 'best effort'."

How does it apply to New Zealand? Remember the Xtra Go Large fiasco? That was supposed to be a plan with no limits, full speed, but with "managed" peer to peer (P2P) traffic. What happened is that a lot of people complained, Telecom New Zealand denied anything was wrong, but after a while they conceded the "network management" implementation was crippled and actually ALL traffic was being impacted for users on that plan.

This week I attended the Thirsty Thursday drinks promoted by the IAB and had a chance to chat with Collin Jackson, president of InternetNZ. They are not talking about Net neutrality, but pushing hard for peering. Go read the link. Peering has nothing to do with peer to peer networks, it's a completely different thing, and peering in New Zealand it is a hot topic.

Anyway, keep reading Cringely's piece to find:

What's to be done, then? Well we won't be going back to true net neutrality. Revealing that it had never existed was probably a weapon the ISPs were saving for their final defense of the status quo. In the long run, the ISPs will probably get their way, too, on being paid for access to higher service tiers. But since we've already paid for that bandwidth, I propose the ISPs be made to share their bounty with us.

If an ISP can account for packets on different service levels accurately enough to bill a Google or a Yahoo, then they can take half of the revenue generated by allowing faster access to me and credit that to my account, lowering my bill. I can either take the money and run or apply it toward raising the priority level of some of my own services.

Thanks Provoke for the Geekzone Gadget

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Apr-2007 08:07

I announced here a couple of days ago the release of our Geekzone Gadget for Windows Vista Sidebar.

The software is a small application that lives in the Windows Vista Sidebar, monitoring our Geekzone Forums, and showing the forums with most recent topics, how "hot" or "cold" a forum is based in the number of replies and the last hour and providing direct links to the discussions.

I always wanted to have something like this, and it was made possible by the guys at Provoke. They came along for one of my weekly coffee meetings in town, we talked about the idea, what I wanted to give our users and we agreed on a quick project - less than a week to have it all done.

The Geekzone Gadget for Windows Vista Sidebar was developed in just a couple of days, from concept, design and testing through release.

We already have some ideas for v2.0, including perhaps posting replies direclty from the gadget instead of having to load a webpage, user selection of which forums to monitor, and more.

I recommend the guys at Provoke if you are looking to create something similar, or even start a bigger project. They work with design, business solutions and e-government applications.

Is your CEO or manager blogging yet?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Apr-2007 21:37

If not, I hope he doesn't follow this path when he decides it's time to add some "transparency" to the company:

Great Dilbert comic. It is not only about blogs though.

Kryptonite (Jadarite) discovered in mine

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Apr-2007 11:56

We all think of geek programs such as Star Trek when talking about some modern technologies and how they were pictured 30 or 40 years ago before these were actually created. Think of Tablet PC, Smartphones, and more...

Now, in a very interesting twist, Mother Nature has brought us... Kryptonite. According to the BBC:

A new mineral matching its [Kryptonite's] unique chemistry - as described in the film Superman Returns - has been identified in a mine in Serbia.

According to movie and comic-book storylines, kryptonite is supposed to sap Superman's powers whenever he is exposed to its large green crystals.

Researchers from mining group Rio Tinto discovered the unusual mineral and enlisted the help of Dr Stanley when they could not match it with anything known previously to science.

Once the London expert had unravelled the mineral's chemical make-up, he was shocked to discover this formula was already referenced in literature - albeit fictional literature.

"Towards the end of my research I searched the web using the mineral's chemical formula - sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide - and was amazed to discover that same scientific name, written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luther from a museum in the film Superman Returns.

"The new mineral does not contain fluorine (which it does in the film) and is white rather than green but, in all other respects, the chemistry matches that for the rock containing kryptonite."

As usual, the Wikipedia article about Kryptonite is already updated to include the Jadarite, which is the probable name for the new mineral.

Is this life copying fiction, again?

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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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