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Welcome the Acer Ferrari 5000

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Dec-2006 14:49

I got a date for this to arrive here now: 22 December, so I am told. This is when the Acer Ferrari 5000 arrives - and what a machine:

- AMD Turion 64 X2 (dual-core 64-bit) running at 2GHz, with 512KB L2 cache per core;
- 2GB RAM 667MHz DDR 2 memory configured in dual-channel mode;
- ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics processor with 256MB;
- 15.4" WSXGA or WXGA, 16 ms, widescreen;
- Bluetooth 2.0;
- carbon fiber casing;
- 802.11 a/b/g wireless LAN;
- 5-in-1 media card reader built-in;
- 1.3 megapixel digital camera built-in.

Review at the The Register.

This laptop will arrive with Windows Vista installed and ready to use, courtesy of AMD and Microsoft. I plan to replace my P4 HT 3GHz desktop and Toshiba M200 Tablet PC with this machine.

I will post about it later, when it gets here. Just before Xmas...

UPDATE: for people coming from Digg and Slashdot, read this...

Verizon roaming charges, Vodafone New Zealand roaming charges

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Dec-2006 21:44

Via Slashdot I've found this:

When the guy wanted to travel to Canada he asked Verizon Wireless how much was the cost of data roaming. The CSR quoted ".002 cents per KB", but when the bill came in the user found it is actually ".002 dollars per KB". There's a huge difference in those numbers, 100 times actually.

The whole discussion started because the CSRs (five of them) couldn't understand the difference between .002 cents and .002 dollars. The data roaming bill came as $72 when it should be $.72 if the cost was really what they said in first place.

Just so you know, the actual cost is .002 dollars per KB, and he's sticking to the quoted amount. But this is another story.

Back to New Zealand now.

Why I am posting this here? Because Verizon Wireless charges approximately US$2.05/MB for data roaming to its customers. This is about NZ$ 3.03/MB. Compare this with Vodafone New Zealand's NZ$30/MB!

It is hard to believe data roaming costs that much to Vodafone New Zealand. Everyone I asked at Vodafone tells me this is the cost charged to them by their network partners. It's interesting that $30/MB is the same price regardless of a user visiting the U.S., the UK, Israel or Mexico. It's like all networks charge the same...

You only get a break when using one of the Vodafone's own network or special partner, in which case the data roaming price goes down to NZ$10/MB. Still not cheap by anyone's book.

Vodafone data roaming

Even less to Stephanie Guigou, who paid NZ$2000 for 69MB while in Australia, plus other charges to a total of NZ$5000. Of course, she could have used Vodafone's own network there, but we all know not everyone knows how to configure software. Not everyone is a geek. People think it's simply "plug and play". And if it's working, why touch it? To their credit, Vodafone says that an error happened on the partner network, causing the excessive usage charging.

In my view, this cost is a burden for small companies. Take me as an example: while overseas for my visit to the 2007 CES I won't be able to work on Geekzone as much as I would like to, because of this cost. Sure this affects other small companies and entrepreneurs who must keep a close eye on expenses.

My advice is when overseas, look for a wi-fi hotspot, or use the hotel in-room broadband. I found that in the U.S. you can find free wi-fi hotspots in some cafes providing you buy a coffee. Or stop at Starbucks and use the T-Mobile Hotspot service. Or pay as low as US$1.00/hour of wi-fi usage at MacDonald's for example - just buy a coke, sit back and relax.

By the way, Vodafone PLC has 45% participation on Verizon Wireless.

Burning ISO images to DVD on Microsoft Windows Vista

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Dec-2006 22:46

If you are running Microsoft Windows Vista and need to burn an .ISO image to a DVD, here is a couple of handy tips:

- Try Alex Feinman's ISO Recorder V3. Although this program didn't work for me when trying to write a DVD from an .ISO file, it did well to create an .ISO file from an existing data DVD.

- Use the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools. The installer will complain when running on Vista, but just accept it and go ahead. It will install a few programs in \Program Files\Windows Resource Kits\Tools. Open a command prompt there and run "dvdburn [drive] [.ISO file]" to burn that DVD.

And how do you quickly open a command prompt on a folder? On Windows XP you can use a PowerToy for this, but on Windows Vista you use a shortcut: press shift and right click on a folder name, and "Open Command Window Here" will be shown in the menu - this option is not visible otherwise.

Another tip? If you are using Microsoft Outlook 2007, press control and right-click the Outlook icon in the system tray. This will show a couple of aditional menu items, including an option to show connection status - handy if you are using a Microsoft Exchange Server and need to know if Outlook is connected at all, and what transport is being used.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Signed Off

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Dec-2006 21:37

This is probably not as big news as Microsoft Windows Vista RTM or Microsoft Office 2007 RTM, but it's important for companies nonetheless: Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 is now signed off.

This new release brings important changes, starting with the migration to a 64 bit environment, enhanced support for mobile devices, impoved security through integration with Microsoft Forefront Security, a completely revamped Outlook Web Access tool, and streamlined administration - including script tools based on PowerShell.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007

If you want to know more of what is in store for your company, how mobile devices interact with Microsoft Exchane 2007 and other pieces of information, check our article "What Microsoft Exchange 2007 Brings to Users and IT Administrators". To write the article I had a talk with Charlie Chung, technical Lead Project Manager in the Exchange Product Team, during his visit to the local Tech Ed event.

Lots of more information on Exchange Server is available on Microsoft TechNet.

Cheap history at Whitcoulls

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Dec-2006 19:36

As I do (almost) everyday, I waked to the locall shopping mall with my baby Isabella, for a coffee and a bit of time off for my wife. While there I decided to browse the books available at the local Whitcoulls.

I found this book ("100 Great Leaders") on the table outside the store:

I guess for only $3 you could only expect great educational stuff, such as an article about Augusts (Roman Emperor who "ended a century of civil wars and gave Rome an era of peace, prosperity, and imperial greatness, known as the Pax Romana") with a picture of Adolf instead (including the wrong caption). Yes, that Adolf whose "racial policies had culminated in a genocide of approximately eleven million people, including about six million Jews, in what is now known as the Holocaust":

I expected to be in a world where I wouldn't have to read the books before my kids do, to make sure it's not full of wrong stuff. But it looks like I do have to keep an eye out for this too...

I wonder if Whitcoulls wouldn't do better than sell this book by simply removing it from the tables. At $3 each, it would be a great service to culture. And really, what could you expect from a cheap book? Quality costs...


Sorry i-mate, but looks are important

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Dec-2006 14:58

London-born designer Jonathan Ive is responsible (with his team at Apple) for such things as iMac, G4 Cube, iSub, Cinema Display, iMac LCD and the wildly popular culture icon, the iPod. Check all these products on-line at the Design Museum (British Council).

Enters Windows Mobile... One of the most popular brands around is i-mate. They used to have a partnership with OEM HTC, until the manufacturer decided to launch devices under its own HTC consumer brand.

We can't say those devices sold by i-mate in partnership with HTC were the most beautiful ones, but I wouldn't be ashamed of having one on me. But the last crop of devices coming out after the break up (some already introduced, some still to come) are ugly things.

Take for example the i-mate JAQ, which was manufactured by a company other than HTC, and is "ugly by design" according to i-mate:

i-mate JAQ

Ok, not convinced? Try these new ones, the i-mate JAQ4 and i-mate SP JAM rumoured to be coming soon:

Yep. They aren't no iPod, no Motorola Q, no Palm Treo and certainly not the BlackBerry Pearl... I know of a lot of people who wouldn't want to be caught with one of these devices in their pockets. I know for sure my wife is very resistant to having a Windows Mobile (be it Smartphone of Pocket PC) on her bag, after the Sony Ericsson P800 hit the floor. I am sure she's thinking of the BlackBerry Pearl as an alternative...

Can't we have great functionality and good looks in a single device? Or is it something like "Nice design, great functionality, memory and CPU power... You can choose only one of those per device".

Magnetic yellow cards for cyclists

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Dec-2006 08:39

What a great idea: magnetic yellow cards for cyclists... A unique way to convey a message. Visit the site and download the pdf to print your own magnetic cards.

Magnetic yellow cards for cyclist

I wonder though if the police won't be confused when checking the information about a blue car registration and actually find it's completely yellow.

BlackBerry Pearl on Vodafone New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Dec-2006 12:56

I am just back from the Vodafone offices where I was formally introduced to the BlackBerry Pearl. I will be getting one of these devices to test, but this time (unlike the time I had the BlackBerry 7230 around), I will use the Enterprise Server, instead of the Internet service option.

This is how it works: for a single licence you no longer have to buy the server software. Just download from the RIM site, install on your server and configure it to work with your Microsoft Exchange Server. If you have more than one user then you can purchase additional licences, with an one time fee for a block (something about $699 for 5 users I am told).

The Vodafone fees are $49 for 3MB, which should be ok for e-mail only. Also this is not a 3G device, so that should discourage anyone to browse web sites on it.

The unit seemed responsive, and with good nice screen. Let's see how it behaves with my Exchange Server for this test.

MSDN Subscription: no new content?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Dec-2006 12:25

Just received this now:

Dear MSDN Subscriber,
Please note that there will be no subscription mailer for the month of December 2006 as no new major content is due to release for your subscription level or language choice.

Your next media update will be the January 2007 update which will ship to you in mid January.
New content is added to MSDN Subscriber downloads all the time as soon as it releases.

Er, what happened to Microsoft Windows Vista, and Microsoft Office 2007, already released to MSDN, and which I can see in my account? Are these "no new major content"? If not, what is then?

Palm Treo 680 in the house for review

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Dec-2006 22:44

Today was a good day in town. I usually go to the CBD on Wednesdays only for my weekly coffee at Astoria, but this Monday was an exception.

I had a lunch meeting with the managing principals of a large IT organisation, then walked to Astoria for a coffee before meeting with Vodafone to check their new flagship store in Wellington (more on this with pictures later). At Astoria, by chance, I met Tim Haines and Nathan Torkington. Tim is one of the guys organising the Ruby on Rails movement here in the region, and Nathan is the force behind the New Zealand Foo Camp (which I will be attending early 2007).

Before leaving the Geekzone Manor though I bumped into this square box left at my doorstep. It contained a Palm Treo 680 for review.

It's charging now, and I will pop a SIM card in it tomorrow - it will be great to compare with the Vodafone Treo 750v for a couple of weeks.

Palm Treo 680
The Palm Treo 680 is currently the "budget" handset in Palm's lineup. Unlike the Treo 750v, the Palm Treo 680 runs Palm OS and is a GSM/GPRS/EDGE handset (the Treo 750v is 3G/HSDPA). Also, the four colours available in the U.S. are not present here, so I got the grey one on the left.

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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