My window to the world

Oh, so Linux crashes too?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Jun-2006 12:50

This is too good to keep under wraps: applications can crash and turn Linux unusable too!

Ok, reading through the whole blog post it's clear that it was an application driver, but one comment is quite real: we shouldn't see this kind of problems on embedded applications.

A larger photo is available on flickr.

The NZ Maori Party views on telecommunications

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Jun-2006 11:35

If you live in New Zealand, or are interested in some telecommunications policy-making, you should read this pronouncement...

"What this means in effect is that the Bill is sending a strong public policy signal to Telecom and to Vodafone that they will be subject to a greater degree of government regulation."

"Hautaki, Saturn, Econet Wireless ltd, ACN, Kwiknet, netsurf, splurge, surfnet, slingshot, supra networks, actrix, raide internet, clear and Telstraclear, wave, ihug, woosh, xtra, paradise, wireless country….and that’s probably just a start."

Saturn? Econet?  "clear and Telstraclear"? xtra? He mixed old stuff, Telecom companies, stuff that is not even in the air yet..

"Why does it cost exactly the same in real terms to make a voice call from my office here in Parliament to my Wellington home- as it does to make a call to my home in Ngongotaha -that’s Rotorua for those who don’t know- and yet I am being charged extra, relative to the physical distance (and yet there is no electronic distance involved). The ability to be well-connected now means far more than the quality of your social networks, as perhaps it did in previous generations."

Because of the Government imposed Kiwi Share?

"People living in Pasifika families have the lowest levels of telephone and internet access in the home (88 and 16 percent respectively) followed closely by people living in Maori families (92 and 28 percent)."

Could that be because these segments are the ones in the lower income bracket?

"Sole parent families are half as likely as two parent families to have internet access (25% compared to 50 percent)."

Could it be because Internet is not the priority, and feeding the family is?

"This is particularly urgent for tangata whenua, as our Maori spectrum interests are associated with mobile. Until the mobile issues are sorted, tangata whenua access to the tele-communications industry and the three billion dollar mobile market is restricted."

Could it be because the spectrum is being "used" by Econet, with no outcome or service yet? If you don't know, Econet is planning to build a third cellular network in New Zealand. The company is owned by Zimbabwe-based Econet, and managed to get hold of some cheap 3G spectrum thanks to a deal with the Maori Spectrum Trust. The company also got a $5 million dollars grant from the government, but so far the new network has not been seen.

You can read more about Econet in this interesting article, from 2005 when the company's boss says "None of the other operators have built [third generation] networks yet but we're the ones who've been kicked around for not building one. We've almost been treated like criminals."

This has been building up since 2000. Six years is a long time to build a new network.

"They take infra-red photos of each other while I’m still searching for the on-off button."

Infrared photos? With a mobile phone?

"At least I’m one ahead of one of my co-leaders, who calls his new-age phone his raspberry."

Now, this is a good punch...

And a discussion is going on in our Geekzone Forums.

Windows Mobile User Group meeting report (29 Jun 2006)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Jun-2006 21:35

Tonight we had another Windows Mobile User Group meeting, here in Wellington. Attendance was ok, still not many people as I'd like, and less than our record sessions a couple of years ago.

I wonder why is that? Is that people are not interested in development for this platform, is the last Thursday of the month a not so good day for these meetings, or something else?

Anyway, this time we moved the meeting from the traditional Microsoft office location to Unisys. Thanks to John Cleveland who arranged with Unisys to host and supply us with the traditional drinks and pizza.

First to talk was Nick Randolph (Microsoft MVP .Net CF and general good guy), who is living in Wellington for six months because of a consulting gig. He's from Australia, and is coming along to my weekly Wednesday coffee meetings at Astoria as well. He showed interest in participating in our user group, so nothing better than making him talk!

His session was about some development stuff related to data storage, connectivity options and management, SMS notification, user interface design. He also showed some code and did a demo involving replication between SQL 2005 and a mobile database. Cool stuff.

I then did a quick run of the new Archer Field PC, running Windows Mobile 5.0... This is a very interesting rugged Pocket PC, and I managed to keep it here for an extra week, just to show it during the user group meeting. You can find more about it through Lat37 (New Zealand) or through the manufacturer, Juniper Systems.

The first five people to arrive each got a Culminis T-Shirt. We also had a copy of Microsoft Voice Command to give away, a copy Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition, a couple of copies of Caveman for Pocket PC.

See you in the next meeting!

Some Windows Vista and Office 2007 woes

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jun-2006 18:47

I spent the day in Sydney, Australia, participating on an Intel event. I am now at the Sydney Airport, connected to Optus Wireless via Wi-Fi.

The whole day I tried to connect to Wi-Fi networks almost everywhere - unfortunately it seems only Telstra Hotspots are available on Starbucks, Queen Victoria Building and some othe places. I couldn't connect to the Telstra Hotspot with my Tablet PC running Windows Vista.

While my Pocket PC had no problems at all, Windows Vista never got a valid IP address, in 5 different hotspots I tried - including the airport.

So I tried Optus here, and it worked. So I can be led to believe Telstra has something really wrong on their network, and Windows Vista doesn't like it.

also I spent until midnight removing Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 from this Tablet PC and installed Microsoft Office 2003. And all that work going on, even though I had to be at the airport at 4am!

The reason I removed Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 is because I need Outlook working! Outlook 2007 (Beta 1 and Beta 2) could only connect to my Exchange Server from within my home network. Anywhere else (GPRS, CDMA, Wi-Fi providers) and it would simply stall and not connect.

I removed this beta, installed Outlook 2003 and guess what? It worked fine straight away. No problems at all.

This proves the problem is not on my Exchange Server, not on my firewall, but on this Outlook 2007. The bad thing is that I raised this as a bug twice and it was closed twice with no resolution.

State: it's possible to travel to Australia and back in a single day

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Jun-2006 15:33

Fancy that... I always purchase travel insurance with State Insurance. But for some unknown reason their on-line system doesn't understand that it's quite possible to leave New Zealand for a single day - that is fly to Australia and back within the same date...

Crossbow to kill Blackberry?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Jun-2006 10:25

If you read Geekzone for some time you will find out that is our policy not to publish rumours or information we have under NDA. That's why you won't find out much about the upcoming Windows Moble Crossbow, which is rumoured to be "Second Edition" release of Windows Mobile 5.0.

Some say the MSFP is the Blackberry killer. Some say it may be Crossbow. Perhaps this page about Crossbow actually tells us what it is?

If you want to read the rumours, then Google is your friend.

Thanks to riki, fellow Microsoft MVP for the tip. He authors some interesting software for Windows Mobile Smartphone (such as Theme Changer and AbstractStart).

Diet Coke and Mentos

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Jun-2006 11:45

Amusing, what can be done with some good music, a camera in your hands... and time!
Found through Goobers, through ZoomBlast.

Day in Sydney (Australia), available for brunch

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Jun-2006 10:25

I was invited to join Intel for lunch in Sydney on 27 June, when company executives will show the Core microarchitecture roadmap to a select audience (hmmm, is that me?).

The discussion will highlight how Intel's Core microarchitecture translates into a complete overhaul of PC usage models and how these innovations will mean lower power and thermal burdens in server data centres and increased productivity across client and server platforms. 

My flight leaves Wellington at 6am (NZ time) and arrives in Sydney 7:45am (local time). Since the even is not due until 12pm, I will have a couple of spare hours available.

If you are in Sydney and want to meet for brunch please contact me and let's see if we can arrange something. I will be heading to The Rocks for lunch, so anything around that area or Darling Harbour should be ok.

If you have nice gadgets even better ;-)

Speaking at Unlimited Potential event 5 July 2006

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jun-2006 21:06

I will be one of the six speakers for the 6 x 6 part of the next UP (Unlimited Potential) event here in Wellington.

According to the flyer:
Unlimited Potential has invited inventors, suppliers and commentators to give us the skinny on what’s up, what’s breaking internationally and in our own back yard.  We also have some local and global vendors to showcase the latest gadgets, games and home media solutions.  You’ll have a great opportunity to view, experience and interact with their latest gadgets.

The 5th July is shaping up to be one whopping great big geeky networking fest and the Unlimited Potential committee is very excited to be bringing some awesome speakers and exhibitors who are passionate about their technology for your networking pleasure.

When: Wednesday 5th July, 2006
Time:  4.30 for 5.30 start
Where: Renoulf Foyer, Wellington Convention Centre

Other speakers on this event are:

Dr Kate McGrath from The McDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.  Kate will shed some light on what our academics have been up to in the Nanotechnology space around New Zealand.

Jay Templeton from Mabode, in association with Microsoft, is ready to wow us with the latest technologies for working and playing with Digital Media.  We also look forward to Mabode showing off some of the latest Digital Home technology in the exhibition area.

Dan Milward from Instinct Entertainment who create online and mobile phone games is going to talk about their work on teaching Chinese people how to familiarise themselves with English using gaming.  Helping people make connections they may not have in a traditional learning space.

Humphrey Wikeepa is the Manager of Software Development at Te Papa and will be talking about the technology challenges faced in creating Mobile Exhibition Guides using the likes of PDA’s and also discussion other options explored at the International Conference “Museums on the Web 2006” last month.

We are delighted to have David Oliver from The Apple Computer Division of Renaissance Limited back at an UP event to show and tell on what’s hot & new from Apple. The Apple event in June 2005 was a stand-out, so don’t miss the opportunity and they may even let you have a play with their new tools and gadgets.  Apple are also giving away an iPod Nano!

Dave Merral from Orb, in association with Telecom.  Orb brings the highest quality technology and telecommunication solutions from around the world and is providing some insight into the latest cool gadgets such as the plug and play Logitech video calling solution or the Bluetooth laser keyboards. 

Exhibitors include Mabode, Microsoft, JonnyNet, Parkside Publishers, Enhance Lighting, Centruflow, Orb, Telecom, NZ Wireless Café Net, Instinct Entertainment, Apple Computer Division of Renaissance Ltd, Vodafone and Canon

It looks interesting... You have to register to attend.

Air New Zealand conducting study - in the USA

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jun-2006 14:59

Interesting press release from Air New Zealand today...

I wonder why not conduct the same study with the local (New Zealand) market. After all I would guess the majority number of passengers are departing from good old New Zealand? And almost all flights from New Zealand are long haul flights (except to Eastern Australia and a few Pacific Islands).

And if the idea is to "make our flights a positive part of the entire vacation experience", may I suggest (of course my unasked for suggestions):

- Board on time: not five minutes before the departure time, which leads us to...
- Depart on-time: not five minutes late, not ten minutes late, but on time.
- Serve something better than water and a cookie in short flights, in special the ones departing early in the morning for people who will work the whole day in another city and then fly back. A nice breakfast would be good.
- Add a few inches to the space in the main cabin (see my comment below).

I have been flying Air New Zealand on long haul flghts and can't complain of the in-flight service. The people are nice and seem experienced. The few times I had to book flights over the phone (to use my Air New Zealand Air Dollars) the people on the other side of the line were really good and arranged everything well (better than some travel agents).

I've used the new Business Class a few times with their nice flat bed pictured below (not in bed mode of course), enjoyed the Premier Economy with a bit more space than Economy, and have used Economy.

I can't understand the Economy seats. The most unconfortable seats I've ever seen! C'mon, the flights are always 1/3 empty, so why not use the space for the better of everyone? This doesn't need a study and would increase the satisfaction of everyone on vacation...

By the way, the Air New Zealand website says Premier Economy offers AC power, but I couldn't find where to plug my laptop (it works fine on Business of course). So either this need to be fixed on the site, or on the seat.

This is the full press release:

Air New Zealand has teamed with a group of former NASA scientists at Alertness Solutions to conduct the most intensive study of travelers to date. Using methodology previously used to study only astronauts and pilots, the airline is breaking new ground in examining what they have termed the "Vacation Gap," the knowledge gap that exists regarding what happens to leisure travelers before, during and after their vacations.

The Vacation Gap study is a two-phase project. The results of the first phase, an in-depth national online survey, measure consumer perceptions of the vacation process and will compare it to the data from the second phase -- an intricate in-flight study of travelers. The findings from both phases will be used to examine a wide range of vacation and travel related questions, as well as guide the airline on future enhancements designed to maximize the vacation experience.

"By studying the Vacation Gap, Air New Zealand is continuing its efforts to make our flights a positive part of the entire vacation experience," said Gus Gilmore, vice president of Air New Zealand - The Americas. "Air New Zealand will use the results of our study to identify and explore new ways to accelerate the vacation mindset and extend it for travelers once they return. By the time we've completed this study, no one will know more than we do about the vacationer's mindset, inside and out."

The national online survey of 1,200 Americans was conducted in April and included 46 questions about work and stress, the vacation experience and the mental and emotional transitions people make between work/home and vacation modes. Among the findings, more than half (51 percent) would be willing to reduce benefits, daily breaks, pay or holiday time off to get more annual vacation time.

In addition, the survey has revealed an increasing paradox between America's stress levels and the genuine need for rest and vacation, and a significant gap between the desire for a vacation and actually taking one. Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed believe doctors should be able to write prescriptions for vacations and more than half feel that extended time off results in as much as a 25 percent increase in work productivity.

The second phase of Air New Zealand's Vacation Gap project uses scientific monitoring devices to measure brain, eye, muscle, and heart rate activity of 10 passengers flying from the U.S. to New Zealand in April and May. In addition to undergoing intensive in-flight monitoring, vacation travelers also collected data as they transitioned from home to vacation and back home again using a wrist actigraph to collect 24-hour activity levels and quantify sleep, a PDA to collect objective performance of travelers, a daily diary for reporting activities, mood, stress, relaxation and more.

Additional highlights from the consumer survey include:

The American Leisure Paradox

-- Respondents worked about nine to 10 hours a day, and almost half rated their stress levels as "moderate" to "extreme."

-- Other than time or money, 30 percent of respondents cited family commitments, 20 percent cited workload concerns and 11 percent cited guilt about leaving work as the biggest obstacles to taking vacations.

Transitioning to and from the Vacation Mindset

-- More than half (59 percent) feel like they're on vacation before they even arrive at the destination and 66 percent say they do not work while they are on vacation.

-- However, the survey suggests the vacation mindset fades quickly after Americans return. More than half (57 percent) begin to feel like they were never on vacation within the first three days back, returning to their normal stress levels and routines with exercise, sleep, work, diet and social activity.

The Benefits of Vacation

-- The majority of people surveyed acknowledged that vacations have both physiological and psychological health benefits. When asked what they thought would happen if they took two weeks off of work at a time, nearly 40 percent said they thought they would "return relaxed and refreshed."

-- Respondents also agreed that after a vacation, they feel more energized, happy and have a higher ability to communicate with others and concentrate, as well as see up to a 25 percent increase in happiness at work and productivity and decrease in stress.

Men vs. Women

-- During the planning process, the week before and day of departure and on the plane, men rated their levels of relaxation up to 16 percent higher than women.

-- Do women work harder than men? According to the survey, it would seem so. On average, women have taken three fewer days of vacation in the past year than men (female average = 25.0 days vs. male average = 27.9 days). Additionally, the majority of women rated their current stress levels as "moderate" (41 percent), while most men rated theirs as "normal" (36 percent).

Under 50 vs. Over 50

-- When responses were broken down by age, there was a significant difference of opinion on whether doctors should be able to write prescriptions for vacations, as well as their perceived benefits. Seventy-three percent of people under the age of 50 felt doctors should have the authority compared to only 59 percent of people over 50.

The results of "Phase 2" of the study are currently being analyzed and will be released this summer.

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.

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