My window to the world

Small "geographic" giveaway to our kiwi readers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Dec-2006 20:03

If you live in New Zealand and want to be in to win a "navigation kit" with a HP iPaq h3970 Pocket PC, Bluetooth GPS and NAVMAN software, all with original boxes, manuals, and cables then check this thread on Geekzone.

I want to learn of interesting places in New Zealand, so make sure to post your entry there... We will close the thread 4th January 2007. Be quick, and good luck!

DHL delay

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Dec-2006 16:56

Hmmm. One of the laptops everyone is talking about is not here yet. Almost:

DHL: Welcome to DHL Express, how may I help you?
Me: Hi, I am expecting a parcel coming from the US but it shows as on-hold, could you please check why?
DHL: Oh, it arrived without a manifest. Do you have the invoice?
Me: No, sorry, this is sent from another company, not mine.
DHL: Well, we have to find the box in the warehouse to grab a copy of the invoice. This may take a few more days.
Me: No chance of this being delivered tomorrow then?
DHL: No, sorry, we have to find the paper and send through customs then release to the courier for delivery.
Me: Hmmm, today is Thursday and with New Year this will be delivered next Thursday then?
DHL: If we find the box.
Me: Ok, so the box has been in New Zealand for three days but you don't have it?
DHL: We have to find the box to get the invoice and send through customs. Sorry for the delay.
Me: Riiiight... Thanks.

Well, I doubt DHL people reads blogs (I never heard of any DHL blogger or alike), but here it is. Three days in a bonded warehouse and they can't find a box!

The Acer Ferrari discussion

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Dec-2006 08:03

I am one of the bloggers receiving an Acer Ferrari 5000, pre loaded with Windows Vista, and as mentioned before, this is courtesy of AMD and Microsoft, to promote the new OS with extreme hardware and mobility features.

A lot of people around the world are getting these. I don't have a list but I know that it includes well-known bloggers, and blogs that reach a smaller niche.

Robert Scoble linked to Scott's laughingsquid (one of the recipients), who in turn linked to Australian Long Zheng, who links to a lot of other bloggers (including me, thanks!) and got into digg and Slashdot as "Microsoft bribing bloggers with laptops".

Some bloggers are saying "Bribe". What's the Slashdot crowd saying? "Bribe"... What's the MSM saying? "Bribe".

They all point to Microsoft, but forget to say this is something between AMD, Microsoft and Acer. Of course they always have to point to the bigger one of the three. They forget to say though that only Microsoft could pull this one off. Which other company could reach that many bloggers, journalists and influentials around the world, in a single move? I don't imagine people getting so hot about this issue if it was an initiative by Apple or Sun.

The "influentials" are welcome to keep or return the laptops. They can disclose or not.

My option was to keep and disclose. I've already mentioned it here. I maintain my independence by making it clear which companies are sponsoring this review unit. The same way people know I have an account with both Telecom New Zealand and Vodafone New Zealand so as not to show a preference for one or the other.

This is no different from freelance journalists getting free flights to Taiwan to attend the IDF. Or being sponsored to attend the PDC. Or attending the CES and receiving a laptop bag from Toshiba, or going to ShowsStoppers and receiving a bag with goodies from the exhibitors.

Get over it folks! Go read Scobble's latest post on this: "I think the Microsoft Vista giveaway is an awesome idea".

Incredible how a marketing campaign can get this "viral". Want it or not, people are talking, and this is good for them.

By the way, the laptop comes with a puzzle, which is the key to access The Vanishing Point - lots of answers to the puzzle and more at this Vanishing Point Wiki.

Illegal movie downloads is bigger than legal alternatives

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Dec-2006 19:02

It's no surprise that illegal video downloads surpass legal alternatives 5 to 1. If the studios decided to stop with moves such as geographically limited licensing that allow online stores to sell movies only in certain regions, then the world outside the U.S. (yes, there's one!) could buy more of their movies:

Of course you can find movie download online stores that sell outside the U.S, if you are interested in a comprehensive collection of B movies. Or if you are interested in a selection of music clips. Nothing against CinemaNow or Digirama, I am pretty sure they would love to sell a bigger variety of videos, if allowed by the industry.

You can try searching for "online video purchase" or "online video download" and see if you can find a service where you can actually purchase video content.

The industry is wrong. The big guys are not making money because they are not selling their product. Instead they rather battle the consumer.

Download your virtual machines

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Dec-2006 17:30

You probably are aware of how keen on virtual machines I am. I currently have an AMD-powered box (1.7GHz, 3GB RAM) running Windows XP SP2 as the host OS, with Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 as the virtualisation environment.

The guest OS are a variety of Windows XP SP2 (for log analysis) and Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition SP1 (for Exchange Server 2003 SP2 and Newsgator Enterprise Server).

Since I will be starting a new project sometime soon, I am also running a Windows Server 2003 R2 with SQL Server 2005, which I have downloaded from Run IT on a Virtual Disk, a series of ready-to-run demo virtual machines available for download now.

Very convenient if you want to try a new feature or test something but don't have the time to create a new machine (initialise, install, update, etc). The download list includes Windows Server 2003 R2, Exchange Server 2007, ISA Server 2006, and SQL Server 2005.

These downloads are fully functional machines, ready to use for 30 days (or more if activated with a MSDN key), with an expire date set to sometime in Q107 or Q207 (it depends on which machine you are using). You can start running a new (virtual) computer straight away after the download.

By the way if you use Microsoft Windows Vista and perform a Complete PC Backup, the resulting file is a .VHD (vitual hard disk).

Also if you are running Microsoft Windows Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta 2 or newer then you can use the vhdmount tool to mount a .VHD file as a drive on the host OS and browse its contents. Really neat.

Direct Push seems to be working on Telecom New Zealand again

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Dec-2006 13:30

A few days ago I posted an item about Direct Push not working on Telecom New Zealand, causing push e-mail to Windows Mobile devices to fail, requiring a user to manually initiate ActiveSync on the device to have the e-mails, contacts, calendar synchronised to an Exchange Server.

At that time I decided not to post how this was broken, but it seems Telecom New Zealand has moved quickly to fix the fault, and push e-mail seems to be working again.

Quick recap, I've noticed push e-mail not working while testing my Palm Treo 700wx, and double-checked with my Apache - which used to work flawlessly. I got the same results - or lack of, while the Windows Mobile devices connected to Vodafone's network had no problems, receiving e-mails instantly.

After a couple of messages with Telecom, it appears that connections through the CDMA network use some of the Xtra's routers, and those were configured to close long http and https connections. Now, everyone who knows how Direct Push works will see that closing a http connection without letting the device know is going to cause problems.

Why Xtra was doing this? Who knows... It could be they were trying to reduce SYN flood attacks, or something else.

This issues was escalated, and it's been fixed over the holiday period. It's all working again.

Corporate customers synchronising to their Exchange Servers via the Private Office service (a VPN offering) weren't affected by this, probably because the service uses other routing? I am not sure.

So, all is good again in the land of push e-mail.

Please explain ReadyBoost testing?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Dec-2006 11:11

I still don't have a good explanation why Windows Vista RTM intermittently recognises the SD card I use here as ReadyBoost capable.

ReadyBoost options on SD card

Sometimes I boot my desktop and the card is being used for ReadyBoost. It works fine for a couple of days. Out of the blue it stops working, and it goes like this until sometime later, after a few reboots, Windows Vista proclaims "You can speed up your system with this card".

The system is running with 2GB DDR2 800 RAM, so the improvement wouldn't be that great, but still there must be a reason.

I am using an internal USB 2.0 multi-card reader, the same one that worked 100% of the time as a ReadyBoost capable drive with Windows Vista RC1 and RC2 (with the same SD card).

Lucky this desktop will soon be moved to a "server" category within our network here, and I will try this feature on a new hardware.

You can read about the ReadyBoost in the ReadyBoost FAQ.

Maxtor OneTouch 1TB dead

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Dec-2006 08:20

My Maxtor OneTouch III G31W010 (1TB, 7200rpm, 16384KB cache, external, USB 2, Firewire 400/800) seems to be dead.

I bought this drive in April 2006, it died in December 2006. It doesn't look good.

The product is no longer available on Ascent, so I am trying to find out about warranty repair or replacement now...

This leads to the question: what do we use as a backup of a backup? I want some on-line backup tools, but alas Carbonite (aff link) doesn't work with Windows Vista (yet) and it won't do what I need in terms of multiple copies of same item, use as a drive, etc.

I was talking to NZDrive's Bruce during coffee other day and their solution is based on sFTP with a browser interface, very easy to use. It doesn't have a client application though (yet) and needs a bit of coding for a good backup script, but the advantage is their use of a standard sFTP solution.

Still, I need something to store about 700GB. This is about 3 copies of a few Virtual Machines, the Save State for a couple of servers, the Norton Ghost image for a couple of PCs, my last ten backups. Not cheap for online storage...

I can just store this on a second drive, but the option is not safe enough since I really want something outside this house!

UPDATE: Very fast replies from Ascent, the on-line retailer for tech products... Maxtor is no longer in business (Seagate bought the company a few months ago) and this will be replaced with another drive - not sure about specs for the new one yet. But very quick service so far.

Using Vodafone live! on your Pocket PC

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Dec-2006 08:33

Why someone would like to do it from a Pocket PC is each one's personal preference, but there's a way to access Vodafone live! pages on your Windows Mobile device... And the recipe is here.

Note that this trick requires registry changes and you would be more than likely need to revert changes if you want to access standard websites.

My guess is that this allows access to the content pages only, not including any DRM-material or the video clips, since those use special clients and DRM licensing software and keys.

I haven't tested this on Vodafone New Zealand yet, but if you try and it works, let us know, in the comments.

When Direct Push does not push

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Dec-2006 08:32

Interesting... Telecom New Zealand must have turned something off or changed some parameter on their network (perhaps because of the CDMA EV-DO Rev A release)?

Anyway, I run a Microsoft Exchange Server and have Direct Push enabled for a series of devices here (my own Pocket PC Phone Edition, plus a few test ones). And it's not working on CDMA devices connected to Telecom New Zealand anymore!

Until recently all devices I have connected to a cellular network would get my e-mails even before Microsoft Outlook on my desktop notified me of a new message.

This was consistently working with devices connected to Vodafone New Zealand (i-mate Jasjar, Palm Treo 750v, and another test device) or Telecom New Zealand (Apache).

But this has now changed and I noticed this when testing the Palm Treo 700wx Telecom New Zealand sent: for some reason the devices connected to their CDMA EVDO network are not getting the push e-mails.

To test it I put a series of devices side-by-side and sent a few e-mails from gmail and other on-line services to my own account on the Exchange Server. And guess what? All UMTS devices received the e-mail almost instantly, while the CDMA devices sat there, doing nothing and eventually receiving the e-mails - up to 15 minutes later.

This feature used to work for sure, and I think something has changed on the Telecom network. 

What I've noticed is that those arrows indicating a data connection go grey on the CDMA devices and while in that state they won't receive e-mails - perhaps because in this state their connection to the Exchange Server cannot be used to transfer information?

Another piece of information, it appears that it works fine if using the Telecom private office offering (I can't remember the service name),

Anyway, I contacted someone at Telecom but I was told "nothing has changed" and he would look into this in 2007.

I will keep asking about it...

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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