My window to the world

Astoria @ Wednesday

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jun-2006 17:55

Last night I missed the Geekzone Weekly Chat because I had to go out for something else (yes, we geeks do have a life!) and while out in the cold I took a couple of pictures of Astoria, before closing.

Some of you know I visit Astoria, Midland Park in Wellington, every Wednesday, from about 1pm. Since I work from home it's good to come to town and have time to meet some people face to face.

Both Microsoft and Vodafone are located on this building, and for being central is easy for other people to come and join me for lunch or coffee. Astoria has both Cafenet and Telecom NZ Hostpost Wi-Fi services, so I can bring my Tablet PC and work in between meetings.

They make one of the best coffee in town, perhaps not as good as Cafe L'affare, but I don't go there often because is out of the way for other people meeting me. Cafe L'Affare is very good for brunches on Saturday, but they are not open on Sunday. Next to Cafe L'Affare there's the Brooklyn Bakery, which is very child friendly (which is something we need now).

Back to Astoria, they also make one of the best steaks around, if you want them at lunch time.

If you are in town on any Wednesday you can either go there directly or simply contact me or post a comment to confirm I will be there.

Another super e-mail: Lycos

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Jun-2006 23:20

My first webmail account wasn't Hotmail. It was Mailcity. This webmail service was later bought by Lycos, one of the many early portals on the Internet. I opened the Mailcity account back in 1995.

For years this was the only webmail I used, and used it for mainly registration in on-line forums. Then I got Hotmail (because of MSN Messenger mainly) and finally GMAIL.

I was just reading my Mailcity e-mails and, surprise, Lycos/Mailcity are upgrading the accounts. The basic free service (ad sponsored) will jump from 5MB to 3GB (yes, from 5 megabytes to 3 gigabytes). And there is no more limits on the size of invidual e-mails.

That's not bad...

Adobe being Evil (TM), or no Save As PDF on Office 2007 anymore

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jun-2006 10:46

The Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format was supposed to be open. There are lots of companies around offering free PDF converters, or even the "Save As PDF" functionality.

But when Microsoft decided to implement the "Save As PDF" format on Microsoft Office 2007, then Adobe decided to make it a "closed" format, by asking Microsoft to remove this feature from the package!

Now, that's evil, isn't it?

If small companies use the format, it's ok. But when a larger (ok, the big guy) decides to use the same format then it's not ok. Obviously certain companies have anti-[anything bigger than you] zealots around, right?

Microsoft plans to offer this feature as a separate download.

Not nice of you Adobe. And we do have Adobe software installed in the Apple iMac here at home. What a shame.

Follow the FIFA World Cup 2006 with Microsoft Soccer Scoreboard

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jun-2006 10:16

This is such a cool application (and free): the Microsoft Soccer Scoreboard. You can follow your home team (or the one you support) around the FIFA World Cup 2006, and get all the results automatically. It runs on Windows XP PCs.

It will also list the schedule, previous results, and act as a RSS feed reader, with lots of RSS feeds to choose from with updates! The most important feature is that matches are listed in your own local timezone, not the German time :)

Microsoft Soccer Scoreboard FIFA World Cup 2006

The only problem I see is that it will not minimise to the system tray. But we can live with that, if it's to get all the updates on this World Cup...

Are HTC and VIA planning something related to Windows Mobile?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jun-2006 00:06

Oh, this sounds good: VIA and HTC have just sent out an invitation to an event, in Taiwan, showing the release of VIA On-demand. According to the invitation: 

You are invited to witness this fantastic moment first hand together with leadership from VIA, HTC, and many others in the industry.

It goes on to say:

VIA OnDemand is a digital all-in-one platform... serving digital content OnDemand - anytime, anywhere, and any device.

The event is scheduled for this 8 June, 2:30pm Taiwan time.

There's a VIA OnDemand website now, but with a holding page, inviting users to come back later. You can also find an interesting PDF file "Peer-to-peer Communication and Entertainment for Mobile PCs" which probably can clarify more on this. In this PDF we find out more about this "total media client" as they call it, with IM, video conferencing, VoIP, content distribution and more.

We all know how HTC made its name by manufacturing Windows Mobile devices (Pocket PC, Pocket PC Phone Edition and Smartphones), but I can't find any reference to HTC and VIA OnDemand . What are these guys up to now?

VIA OnDemand

Off-site backup: Carbonite

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Jun-2006 18:32

A few of you guys know how paranoid about backup I am... Everything at home is copied to a Maxtor OneTouch 1TB external drive, which stores full HDD images (at least the last four versions, plus incremental backups every hour) of my desktop and tablet PC (using Norton Ghost), plus copies of my Exchange Server, and of course SQL Backup and files from the Geekzone server, which are hosted somewhere in Auckland.

I also have a smaller 60GB external drive which I use to copy the latest version of My Documents from the desktop, so I can travel with a fresh copy of everything that is important.

I was always intringued by on-line backup services though, and (as you know) having a 10Mbps (down)/2Mbps (up) cable-modem connection at home this kind of service started making sense.

But this week I found an interesting offering: Carbonite (affiliate link). It's an interesting service because it runs on my computer in the background. I just have to mark which folders or individual files to backup by right-clicking each in the Windows File Explorer and selecting the Backup/Don't Backup option.

It's also interesting because it costs US$5/month for unlimited storage (although I found out that unlimited is really the "average", but I know some people using more than 60GB already).

The cool stuff is that it doesn't have to be manually initiated. Any file changed since the last backup is automatically copied minutes after the change is completed. Very efficient and hands-off.

Also this is trully a full off-site backup. Even if my Desktop HDD, the Maxtor 1TB or the small 60GB external drive die I still have access to the files on Carbonite (affiliate link).

You can try it free now, and they don't ask for a credit card or anything during the trial. If you don't like it, simply stop using the service - no problems.

Also, if you are interested in promoting the service, you can join their Carbonite affiliate program.

Synchronisation of SQL Mobile with Microsoft Access

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jun-2006 22:42

It looks like one of the "problems" on Windows Mobile 5.0 will have a solution: synchronisation of Microsoft Access databases with a Windows Mobile device. Actually this is not a problem at all, since the Access synchronisation conduit was discontinued from ActiveSync 4.x, but this was announced to developers a few months ago.

A post on the SQL Mobile blog points to an upcoming software that will enable the synchronisation of SQL 2005 Mobile running on a Windows Mobile device to a Microsoft Access database running on a desktop computer.

ADOCE is not supported in Windows Mobile 2005 and those customers/ISVs that used ADOCE to synchronize CEDB with Access desktop database are seeing a gap in this functionality. Hence these customers/ISVs don’t have a good migration path when they move to Windows Mobile 2005. To address this functionality gap we are implementing Sync with Access to synchronize SQL Mobile with Access. Customers/ISVs can migrate from CEDB/ADOCE to SQL Mobile/Sync with Access. Providing SQL Mobile synchronization with MS Access will also speed up the SQL Mobile adoption. A solution developed using SQL Mobile/SSEV and MS Access sync will have the capability to scale up to SQL Mobile/SSEV and SQL Server replication solution.

The beta for this solution should be available in August 2006 and a final release before end of 2006.

About time to have this. When the deimplementation of ADOCE synchronisation to Access was announced, Microsoft promised a solution. It looks like it is going to happen, sooner or later.

Get the Beta from Microsoft New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jun-2006 11:42

Just brought to my attention... If you want to find out more, register, or download the beta versions of Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, then try the new Microsoft New Zealand's "Get The Beta" website.

In this site you can opt to download the beta for these products (some available now, some coming soon), or choose to have a DVD posted to you.

You need a Live account (formerly known as "Passport"). The postage is not included and costs NZ$7.50 for standard mail or NZ$17.50 for courier servce.

See Windows Vista

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jun-2006 09:57

You probably know Microsoft Windows Vista is the next iteration of Microsoft's operating system for personal computers. What you probably don't know is how it can be used by partners and customers to develop applications and services using Windows Vista as a platform, not an OS.

On you will have a guided tour of the OS with more information. Really cool production, with sound, captions and other stuff.

The visual is based on Windows Vista UI and it looks good. I guess the site is under heavy load at the moment, because it can be choppy at times - but keep trying later.

Telecom New Zealand Apache Pocket PC gets AKU2.2

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-May-2006 15:23

It is official now: the Windows Mobile 5.0 AKU 2.2 update for the Telecom New Zealand Apache Pocket PC Phone Edition (a.k.a. Audiovox PPC6700, Verizon XV6700) is coming to the public very soon.

I don't know the details yet (date and URL for download), but it should be out very soon, since I just got an e-mail with links to the final version and a document with all the information about this new release.

I have been using a previous beta version for about 45 days now, and it comes with lots of features and fixes. It's hard to categorise these, but I will list in the same order they are in the document:

1.Today screen: an updated today screen now brings a "Lock Device" plugin so you can lock the device while not in use.

2.Connection Manager (image below): You can now turn on/off all the wireless features from a single program: CDMA cellular data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth. You can also turn on/off ActiveSync, Direct Push (more on this later) and disconnect from the CDMA data session:

3.Network Time Sync: the Apache now offers an option to synchronise its internal clock with the cellular network.

4.Smart Dial: entering a few numbers in the dialpad (Phone Application) will lookup contact information using predictive input.

5.Voice Speed Dial and ZIP Manager: you can train the Apache to dial with voice commands, and it also comes with a ZIP program so you can zip/unzip downloaded files and e-mail attachments.

6.MSFP: If your organisation runs Microsoft Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2 then the MSFP (Messaging Security Feature Pack) built-in this AKU2.2 release will allow many new functions:

a) Direct Push E-mail: e-mails can be sent to your Apache Pocket PC automatically, without the need of manually initiating an e-mail checking;

b) Global Address Lookup: find a contact on-line in the Exchange GAL (Global Address List);

c) E-mail security: you can now sign, encrypt, decrypt e-mails directly on the Pocket PC, when using Digital Certificates;

Not listed in the document is the Security Policies: through the Exchange administration interface it is possible to force the Pocket PC to require PIN, specify a limit of failed attempts, and even remotely erase the contents of the main memory in case the device is lost.

You can read a lot more about the AKU2 in this article.

Not all is fixed though: a problem I found existed in the original Apache release (the device sometimes fails to turn on when there's a miniSD card in the slot) is recognised by HTC (the manufacturer) as a fault, but the fix is not scheduled until the next release.

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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