My window to the world

I love GPRS

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Sep-2006 18:47

Yes, no kidding. The title is correct. Seriously though, I have two 3G Pocket PCs: an i-mate Jasjar connected to Vodafone NZ WCDMA network, and a TNZ Apache connected to Telecom New Zealand's CDMA 1xEV-DO network.

My main phone is the Jasjar, because of my old phone number (which I've been using for the last, what, seven years?). It's not the smallest Pocket PC in the world, and obviously you need to have a Bluetooth headset, otherwise you look like a dork with such a huge device hanging from your face during a phone call.

But you can't beat Telecom New Zealand's CDMA EVDO (for now) data speeds. The Apache is great and I use it frequently as a modem for my tablet PC. I can get speeds between 500Kbps and 800Kpbs (while on the Jasjar it won't pass the 250Kbps mark).

Of course everyone wants more and more speed. Vodafone has introduced their HSDPA offering, with speeds of up to 1.4Mbps (although the official words is that some centres will have up to 3.6Mbps available, but this is the max theoretical). But that was before devices to access the network were available, and I was probably the only user on a specific cell site.

Back to the point: GPRS. An ancient packet switched technology, which most companies promised to be "always-on, fast" Internet. Reality sunk in after GPRS became popular. It wasn't always on, because devices would disconnect the data session when an incoming voice call was announced to the handset. It wasn't fast because of its dial-up speed and high latency. And the only applications were WAP portals with almost no content and badly designed applications.

Moving forward to 2006. We have WCDMA (which some try to call UMTS, but let's have its name here) with max theoretical speeds of up to 384Kbps, CDMA 1xEV-DO with max speeds of 2Mbps but going up to 100+Mbps in a few years, and HSDPA with speeds of 14Mbps in a couple of years. And we still have GPRS, with speeds of up to 42Kbps.

Why I love it? I just sent my i-mate Jasjar for a special place for a special surgery. In the meantime, I moved its SIM card to my old i-mate Pocket PC Phone (the first i-mate device around here) and I am surprised how fast the device is in comparison to the newer Pocket PCs, even though the newer CPUs are faster, and the devices have more memory.

I am also surprise on how responsive the GPRS data is flowing. Seriously you can't connect your laptop through this Pocket PC and expect fast speeds. But I have some specific requirements, such as push e-mail and single connection to a server, and for that it serves me well.

I am using this Pocket PC to connect to my Microsoft Exchange Server for e-mail, calendar and contacts synchronisation. It performs thesse actions while in my Pocket PC, so I really don't care if it takes 20 seconds or 60 seconds. And it does it fast because it is a single connection to a single server.

Another example of single connection application I am using and surprised me today was RSS feed reading. I run my own Newsgator Enterprise Server, and it serves me with a PDA friendly webpage. Since this is a single connection, basically text only, to a single server, it is actually extremely fast. And that's not WAP, but full HTML. I actually haven't been to a WAP page in years.

It is like the RIM BlackBerry devices. Most of them are still connected to the GPRS network. And do you notice it? No, because you only know about the e-mails arriving. You probably don't even notice the e-mails flowing to the device. But they are still coming on the slow GPRS network (of course, except on the new latest BlackBerry models coming out now).

So, yes. I am using GPRS these days on my Pocket PC, and I am enjoying it. Of course when I need to do some serious work, here comes the Apache for some broadband speeds (or some HSDPA in the near future?)

Horses for courses, as they say...

Symantec Norton Team is blogging

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Sep-2006 10:52

Last time I posted about Symantec here in this blog was to let you know that their Security Response Team was blogging.

I was just visiting the Symantec website to check some product information, and found that there's a new blog up now: the Norton Protection Blog.

It looks like it's the product team bloging, by the looks of the blogger profiles, which includes VP and managers of products, services and engineering.

Worth a read, to keep up-to-date with security for your loved computing devices...

100 Years of Press Releases

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Sep-2006 10:32

It looks like 2006 marks the 100th anniversary of Ivy Lee's first press release. He is known as the father of public relations, and his first press release is considered the birth of the public relations industry as we know it today.

The NUK lists more insights on Ivy Lee's teachings and techniques.

What a long journey. Media outlets still receive press releases, and even bloggers receive them. But how this information goes to the readers is another story.

Congratulations to all professionals working in this area! I hope you all embrace the new times and changes we have ahead, with all this new media available to communicate to customers.

Weird Al: White and Nerdy

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Sep-2006 08:21

Weird Al is great, and this is, well... Nerdy: Or from Google Video: New Zealand made

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Sep-2006 19:09

I am used to say that part of my job (which is running Geekzone full time) is to read and collect data to crunch into information I can use or share. And everyday I find something interesting.

For example, it was a big surprise when I found out about, since I have a huge list of feeds on my RSS reader and this blog wasn't there - yet. It's now subscribed.

It was also big surprise to actually find that its author, Richard MacManus, is based just around the corner (well, almost) from me, in Lower Hutt - I am in Johnsonville, both are suburbs of Wellington, New Zealand's capital.

His blog is an interesting read, bringing lots of information on all things related to web technologies and services (some call this web 2.0, I think it's a bit too much, but this is another discussion). If you read and follow his blog you will notice that things appear on first.

Richard also writes a blog for ZDNet, called web2explorer.

I met Richard for the first time during the Geekzone 2006 (and yes, we'll have Geekzone 2007). I think his blog is better known overseas than here in New Zealand, so that's why I am writing about it here. Check it out: readwriteweb is one of the top blogs on Technorati!

I really recommend you subscribe to his feed and read the blog if you have any interest in web technologies, new media, etc... It will be worth your while.

Windows Vista Install Fair

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Sep-2006 11:18

As commented during the Geekzone 2006 (which was a really cool event, you should pencil some time to attend Geekzone 2007!), Microsoft is running a series of "Windows Vista Install Fair" events in the USA.

In short: bring your PC, have Microsoft Windows Vista installed and get a free copy of Microsoft Windows Vista when it is released to the public.

Upgrade Windows XP SP2 (Home, Professional, Tablet PC and Media Center Edition) PC’s or Laptops with unfamiliar applications, configurations and devices to the latest pre-release version of Windows Vista Ultimate Edition.

Acquire valuable feedback about the Windows Vista Upgrade experience from the broader community to ensure that Windows Vista will be the most rock solid release of Microsoft Windows ever.

Can we make some pressure and have Microsoft New Zealand moving to do something similar here?

Opening the Apple iPod

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Sep-2006 12:37

I just found a website with some interesting information on all technical things Apple iPod related: The guys there have guides for all Apple laptops and Apple iPod models, including the latest Apple iPod nano and Apple iPod 5G.

Check this picture of the new Apple iPod nano open:

The site also sells repair parts for all those models. Interesting DIY kind of stuff and certainly interesting for those "hard to find" parts.

Windows Mobile devices reviews

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Sep-2006 10:15

Some of you asked me about upcoming Windows Mobile devices on Vodafone New Zealand, considering that tomorrow (12 September) we'll see the announcement of their new HSDPA offering, under the 3G Mobile Broadband badge (you can read some of my previous comments here and here), and considering that some of the new Windows Mobile devices will have the ability to connect to this new fast network.

All I can say is... Hmmm, not much. In the last few months Vodafone New Zealand has been in a transformation cycle, and what I know is that's been really hard to get to try some of their new smart devices.

While I have met with two people showing me new mobile devices, I could not get any for a review - not even the ones already in stores nationwide.

Take for example the i-mate Smartflip. It's been in stores for a while now, and I asked, begged, implored for a review unit, with no luck so far. Then there is the i-mate JasJAM, the i-mate SP6 (pictured) and the Palm Treo 750v. I've seen these devices, but so far I have had no luck in arranging any for review.

Then check the article on Dominion Post with myself showing off a tablet PC connected to the Vodafone HSDPA. I know some IT jounalists (at least one person from Computerworld and another from the Dominion Post) did not get a chance to review the new service before launch. I only got to try the HSDPA network thanks to a friend who arranged me a Sierra Wireless card to use.

What's up at Vodafone these days?

UPDATE: To be fair, Vodafone is not the only one. HP does the same. I don't even bother asking HP anymore, and I simply ignore them.

Microsoft Codename Max shows RSS feeds

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Sep-2006 11:27

Yesterday I posted about the problems I found while trying to install Microsoft Codename Max, the image sharing program based on some new cool graphics technologies.
I now blame this on the fact that I was downloading the installer at the same time the Microsoft team was updating their page, because after downloading the installer again (and removing the WinFX component) I got all working flawlessly. I noticed the new installer was 305KBytes, while the first download was only 105KBytes.

Now that I have all working, I also had time to try the new feature on Microsoft Codename Max: RSS feeds! The program can now consume RSS and ATOM feeds, and it with the same technology used to create the slideshows with the "mantle" style. That means that when you read the feed you actually see a page that looks like a newspaper, instead of simple list of articles.

This is pretty cool, have a look on the Geekzone Blog RSS feed:

Microsoft Codename Max RSS feeds

Images are resized to fit the columns, and each page lists the articles in different position, making it fun to read.

If you are looking for a no frills RSS reader (yes, not many options there, so don't think of "Mark As Read", "Refresh Interval", etc) then this one looks an interesting option. I still recommend Newsgator for some serious RSS reading though, because of the ability to read the feeds on your web browser, or read on your Microsoft Outlook or mobile device and having the read status synchronised in all locations.

Remember the Microsoft Codename Max is a beta, a "showcase". I actually see that some of the user interface design from Windows Vista are now coming to Windows XP (think Microsoft Codename Max, Windows Live Mail Desktop, Windows Live Messenger, and Microsoft Office 2007).

Microsoft Codename Max update

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Sep-2006 12:05

Yesterday I was thinking of adding Microsoft Codename Max to my server, so relatives could have a nice list of pictures of our baby Isabella. I didn't act on that because it was late - and I am glad I didn't.

That's because this morning I saw in some MSDN Blogs that Microsoft Codename Max has been updated, to incorporate .Net Framework 3.0 instead of the original WinFX Beta 2.

Great! I can install this now. Wrong. Pain settles in. After downloading the small (150 KBytes) installer it proceeded to download and install WinFX Beta 2!

The installer did that, and then placed the Microsoft Codename Max on my server. But this was the wrong one. As soon as I started it the program notified me of an update. No problem, I understood their advice to visit the site and download it. But I have just downloaded it from there!

Running the install again this time it complained about not having .Net Framework 3.0 on my machine. Of course not. This is what written on Microsoft Max page:

Max updates itself. Max uses Microsoft Update to make sure you have the most up-to-date version running. Which means you can try the new features—or get the latest fixes—with each release.

Max installs Microsoft .NET Framework  for you. Max installs the version of Microsoft .NET Framework required to work properly, so you don't have to.

Ok, off to remove WinFX, reboot, download .Net Framework 3.0 manually, because now I don't trust this installer.

Why am I ranting? Because this is supposed to be easy. I wanted something my mum, and the grandparents could install on their computers by themselves. This is not it!

UPDATE: Manually removed WinFX Beta 2, and downloaded the installer again. This time it's installing the Microsoft .Net Framework 3.0 RC1. Let's see how it goes. Interestingly, I couldn't find a .Net Framework 3.0 download on MSDN - the download link is only for the v2.0

Anyway, all seems to be working now (not without a couple of reboots), and let's start sharing the pictures!

UPDATE: It seems Microsoft Codename Max shares the full size pictures. On my Nikon D50, at high resolution it means each picture is about 2.5MB! I can see my inlaws getting really angry at some long albums. What about an option to automatically resize pictures before sharing and placing those in a cache?

UPDATE: It is now working here without a problem. Looking good. I have to test the new RSS feed feature.

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.

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