My window to the world

DHL delay still on...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Jan-2007 09:21

It's unbelievable. "DHL Express Service" are certainly words that could not be in the same sentence, at least in this case.

A shipment sent out from the U.S. on the 22nd December has been here in New Zealand since the 26th and waiting for customs to clear it.

I called DHL every morning to be told a different story. "Our broker in Wellington is on holiday until next week" (really, so no one in New Zealand's capital is receiving parcels coming from overseas?), or "The shipment came unmanifested, our fault, but we asked for the papers to be faxed already", through "The sender did not provide us with documents, we have called them to ask for those", and other lame excuses.

The fact is that something I needed here before my trip to Las Vegas is not going to arrive. And the DHL service people are not helping at all. They provide mixed information, wrong information and all sorts of excuses.

Is there anyone reading this that can actually reach for someone clued up at DHL New Zealand?

Note that until now I had never had a problem or reason to complain about DHL services, and always used them for my courier needs. But I think I will simply have to shift to FedEx or some other alternative.

UPDATE: manage to get the sender to contact DHL in the U.S., and as expected, it was all clear. So the problem is here. I called DHL again and this time someone actually found out more about this, including the fact import duties are paid, and this is all that needed to be known. They are now sending this to a broker for release from customs - but if I want this before I go to Las Vegas I have to go and collect from their warehouse. No delivery...

One thing SkypeIn can't do: block telemarketers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Jan-2007 08:22

We all know SkypeIn is an interesting and useful feature. SkypeIn allows consumers to have a dedicated phone number in different cities, even countries, and receive phone calls made to their numbers directly on their Skype software client or handsets - like the Dualphone I have around here that don't even need a computer.

For me I have two SkypeIn phone numbers, one in San Francisco (CA) and another one in Melbourne (Australia).

Now, these work great and only a couple of people know my number in San Francisco - only people that needed to contact me for a conference call or two.

Skype should actually offer these numbers here in New Zealand as well.

But I digress. Last night we got a phone call at 3:45am. Some telemarketer, with a foreign accent, not American, not New Zealander, was calling my SkypeIn phone number for a survey.

For a damn survey at 3:45am.

Right. So I think I should join the United States Do Not Call Registry. I don't even live there, but I will have to. The problem you see, is that there's no geographical or time zone limitation when you have a SkypeIn number. For those inconsiderate telemarketing companies, they think it's fair game, being a U.S. number and being day over there.

How did they get hold of this phone number? Was it a random dialing exercise? "Let's just call all numbers in the SFO area, it's daytime there after all..."

If you want to register your SkypeIn number in this list then visit their official website for the United States Do Not Call Registry.

Of course another problem is that SkypeIn numbers are assigned by Skype, and their terms of service says that they may even take or change the number at their will, depending on how much you use it.

What if when you buy a SkypeIn number you get a "gift", a number that have been already sent to hundreds of telemarketing companies? What a pain that would be.

We need something like a "flag" that will tell telemarketing companies to not call Skype numbers. Something that uniquely identify a number as a virtual number, therefore let those people know that they may be disturbing someone in the middle of the night, on the other side of the world.

And no, logging off Skype during the night is not an option. I don't unplug my phone from the landline every evening before going to bed. Why should I log off of Skype?

Modern Nomads, MobilitySite Podcast

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jan-2007 21:02

I found a couple of things related to mobility, that may be of interest to you:

- Check the Modern Nomads blog... They usually have very long but  well written articles on how to use technology to get the best out of it. For example, this week the article "Get more out of your day using a PDA" brings some very useful information for personal information management, including tips  on how to reduce the overload of communication that e-mail brings to our lives and more. Worth reading it.

- Mobilty Site is launching a series of mini casts called "Mobility Site Minute". Yep, one minute only, and you get a lot of information for your time. The only problem is that I couldn't find a RSS feed for this series - yet.

Media Thoughts offline: under repair

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jan-2007 09:07

If you guys follow Pocket PC Thoughts, Smartphone Thoughts, Zune Thoughts and can't load their pages, don't go crazy (yet).

Jason Dunn has posted a note on his personal blog ("Thoughts Media Server Falls Down, Goes Boom") with the explanation:

Since I can’t update any of my “real” sites, here’s the scoop: our main server is seriously messed up. It appears to be some sort of database corruption, but running MySQL repairs doesn’t seem to have helped. My limited Linux knowledge is a handicap here - beyond a few basic commands I’m more or less useless. All my volunteer server techs are offline/away/MIA, so I’ve just reached out to a Linux-guns-for-hire company and hopefully they can get things up and running soon.

Home made Xbox 360 racing simulator

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jan-2007 09:09

This one is an interesting video showing how it looks like to drive a home made Xbox 360 racing simulator. The setup was created by a fellow Geekzone reader (BestTimesNow). You can find more information on this thread. Once you sit and start driving the visual is really incredible:

The Vanishing Point puzzle box is here

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Dec-2006 10:29

This morning I got a small box with a letter from Loki, and a puzzle box. Inside the puzzle box I found a USB key with a movie, and a picture with an encrypted message...

This is the first clue:

If you don't know yet, this is all related to a game called The Vanishing Point going on right now, with answers to be revealed sometime soon.

There are lots of good information on the Vanishing Point Wiki, a summary on Technronical and a very long thread on Neowin.

Comment policy on my blog

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Dec-2006 09:25

In the last few days a lot of people posted comments on this blog, for many different reasons, mainly because of the whole Microsoft/AMD/Acer laptop story.

Some comments are not shown and there's a reason for that.

The comment policy here is simple: identify yourself and the comments will be live.

Every time you comment you must enter your name and e-mail address (with optional URL, great for some Google juice). You will automatically receive an e-mail with a special link. Click on that link and your comment will automagically appear.

Your e-mail address is not shown, and it's only used for this confirmation.

Why is this? First to prevent spam in the blog comments. Next because I don't want to go through the comment moderation routine, which would be needed to prevent spam if the e-mail authentication wasn't in place.

If you have something to say, show your face. I am not here to read diatribes from people who hide behind fake e-mail addresses.

Yes, I can see the non-authenticated comments, but in principle I won't approve those because I don't want to give voice to people who rather remain in the shadows while posting their unjustified criticism to the world to read.
It's interesting how some posting a comment here can't do something as simple as follow the rules by entering a valid e-mail address, but at the same time try to appear as righteous?

Unlimited Potential: Blog Predictions for 2007

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Dec-2006 09:13

I was invited to speak at one of the upcoming Unlimited Potential events, here in Wellington.

The details are:

UP New Years Event - Bloggers predictions for 2007
When: 25 January 2006, at 5:30 for a 6:00 start
Where: Creative HQ, at 25 Marion Street, Wellington
And here is the pitch:

We've asked Wellington's best bloggers to gaze into the future and tell us what the big news will be in the next twelve months. The wisdom of their prognostications will astound you—or make you laugh, at the very least.

The blogger who makes the best predictions — as voted by the audience — will be crowned UP Visionary of the Year for 2007, and receive an official certificate, a beautiful tiara [crown?], and full bragging rights… at least until 2008, when we will vote again on whether to revoke their title.

The bloggers:

David Farrar, of Kiwiblog fame,
Tom Beard, Wellingtonista's "Blogger of the Year" for 2006,
Mauricio Freitas, the Geekzone Guy,
Philip Fierlinger, self-confessed Blog Junkie
Mike, carrying the hopes and dreams of the UP Exec

The rules:

Each blogger will make 3 to 5 predictions.
Preditions will be in the following categories: Gadgets & Games,
The Internet, Business & Telecom[munications], Technology, Wellington & NZ.
Predictions made by blog readers in comments are allowed, but must be credited.
Cheating—by using insider knowldge, in-depth simulations, latent psychic powers, reasoned analysis, alcohol, ouija boards, etc— is strictly encouraged.

The last bit is important... So if you think you have a vision of the future of blogging, and it happens in 2007, then drop a comment here or contact me.

PS. If your name is not linked, I sincerely apologise - I simply can't find your blog right now, so please drop me a note and I will update the links.

DHL Express is slow

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Dec-2006 12:54

What a joke. Called DHL again to find out about the "express" parcel I am waiting for, and now I am told there are no agents to process this in Wellington.

The package has been in the country for four days now, in the bonded warehouse for three days, plus one day in Auckland.

I am also told that even though this box is sitting on a depot 20 minutes from here, even if an agent from Auckland releases it, the chances of having this delivered today are very slim.

Let's see: long New Year holiday from tomorrow, no deliveries until next Thursday... A week from now!

This morning CourierPost delivered a package with a device to be reviewed, posted two weeks ago from Sydney, Australia. Sydney is only 4 hours from Wellington!

There you go, this is the cost of doing business in this country.

Blog tagged

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Dec-2006 07:46

Right, so it seems it's my turn to enter the meme with five things you don't know about me, thanks to a post on Russ McGuire's  The Law of Mobility.

Here's the list:

- In 1985 I was attending a course on 4GL on Burroughs B Series mainframes. Being the only person there who had ever used an Apple II, TRS 80 or CP/M-based computer, I told the other attendees to keep an eye on dBASE, and we should think of replacing some of the green terminals with smaller computers for some tasks. Everyone looked at me like "good lord, he's only 18 - these things are toys and he doesn't know it yet". Time changed everything.

- I moved to New Zealand from Brazil, thanks to a job transfer. After working eight years for Unisys Brasil I joined Unisys New Zealand for another eight years, before leaving to work full time on Geekzone. I was with the Unisys Communications practice for about 10 years in total.

- The last two years before moving to New Zealand I spent flying between Londrina and Sao Paulo for a couple of projects, every week. One Friday evening I arrived back home and tried to start my motorcycle. It wouldn't start, because my Siberian Husky (yes, in Brazil!) ate all its cables (including brakes, accelerator) and lots of other bits, rendering it unusable for the next couple of weeks.

- I like good food. Brazilian food, in special feijoada or churrasco made with picanha is great, but Italian food will tip the balance too. And coffee.

- My first PDA was a US Robotics Pilot (the name Palm Pilot came after this first model), back in 1995. I've used all their models up to the Palm m515, then I switched to the Handspring Visor Prism. The reason for that was the Visorphone GSM Springboard module to transform the PDA into a PDA Phone. This was my last Palm OS handheld, because I switched to Windows Mobile soon after.

I am tagging Juha Saarinen, Russell Brown , Jason Dunn, Chris Leckness, and Long Zheng.

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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