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New Zealand is in good company TUANZ

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Dec-2009 17:48

Earlier this week Telecom XT network had extended outage, apparently the result of some software update gone rogue. People from all over commented on it (including myself) but one of the most strongly worded comments came from Ernie Newman who commented to NBR's Chris Keall:

Telecommunications Users Association (Tuanz) chief executive Ernie Newman said, "From here, it looks bizarre. Even third world countries don't experience outages of that magnitude and length.

I have news: New Zealand is not a third world country. Or perhaps the U.S. is one too:

- 3rd March 2009: Vodafone 3G returns after three hour Auckland outage;
- 12th December 2009: AT&T 3G service disruption in San Francisco, lasting for two hours and fifteen minutes;
- 13th December 2009: Verizon Network down in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and California, with a six hour ETA for full services restoration;
- 14th December 2009: Telecom XT outage affects half of New Zealand;
- 17th December 2009: AT&T outage leaves Alaska without 2G service for most of the day.

Is TelstraClear sitting on its YouTube problem?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Dec-2009 18:42

If you are a TelstraClear customer and try to watch to watch a YouTube video clip these days you will likely see the following routine: buffer five seconds, play three seconds, ad nauseam.
Using some "techniques" that work with other ISPs which cache YouTube content locally won't help - refreshing the page on your browser for example won't get a "local" version from your ISP, since TelstraClear doesn't seem to offer this kind of service.
This has been happening for about a month now, and it seems to affect both cable modem and DSL customers. I have seen reports of this on Geekzone (1, 2) and from people following me on Twitter who confirmed the same affecting them.
I've heard a rumour that TelstraClear is investigating this, but no official confirmation was received. I've tried contacting TelstraClear's spokesperson via email, but received no reply.
It seems only YouTube is being affected, and overall I am quite happy with how other services perform on TelstraClear's network (in my case the cable modem service).
Don't worry visiting their status page. This issue is not recognised by the company. And calling their help desk will get through someone that will imply the problem is on your side (and just forcing the customer to move away).

UPDATE: the official TelstraClear response to this issue is "We intend to speak with Google to try and improve the experience of our customers since their move to more HD content."

That's it. No problem acknowledgement, no explanation.

The Telecom XT network outage (14 Dec 2009 updated)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Dec-2009 14:45

I won't go into the gory details of today's XT network outage. There's enough "experts" around - and a lot of them seem to gather on this Geekzone discussion.

But here is just some background information you ought to know regarding the Telecom XT network.

There are two RNCs in the XT network. One in Auckland and one in Christchurch. These are Tier 0 sites - Tier 0 sites have the highest levels of availability (power, connectivity etc) and the strictest change control procedures.

A network of similar size to Telecom XT could quite easily have been built with one RNC but two RNC provide added resiliency into the network. A single event would not affect all customers.

And that's what happened.

A RNC is a platform made of multiple redundant components. You can imagine that a total RNC failure means quite a serious issue. It appears the issue cascaded to affect the way cell sites restart which is what happened during the day. It was the establishment of communications to each cell site turn took its time and delayed recovery for the part of New Zealand affected - those living south of Taupo it seems.

I am told this issue is being "analysed" at the highest levels of both Telecom New Zealand and Alcatel-Lucent, the technology provider.

There's only one thing I want to tell you:


(For those of you who don't get it.)

Smartphone and mobile data survey: Victoria University needs your help

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Dec-2009 09:06

I was contacted by a professor who is looking for help with getting 300 answers (or more) for a Victoria University of Wellington survey on smartphones and mobile data usage - respondents will be in to win $200.

This is a Victoria University of Wellington research project on the use of mobile information systems in the workplace.

If you are currently using a mobile device enabled with data capability (e.g. mobile email, mobile Internet, mobile business applications etc) for work purposes, then we invite you to complete a survey questionnaire. It should take you approximately 12 minutes to complete the survey, which is anonymous and will be available until the 25th of December 2009.

By completing the questionnaire you will be entered in draw to win a prize of $200.  Please use the following link to access the survey:

Your participation is important and will help to improve the understanding of the adoption and use of mobile technology.  Should you require any further information about this project, please contact Eusebio Scornavacca at (04) 463 6697 or email  or Professor Sid Huff at (04) 463-5819 or email

Can Google really hack it in business?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Dec-2009 10:56

A couple of months ago I tried Google Apps Premiere, and found a series of problems mainly synchronisation to mobile devices.

I posted about those problems and was contact by a Google product manager who offered to monitor my account to try and find out why those problems happened. Nothing came out of it so I decided to move my account to Microsoft BPOS.

Bob Scheier conducted an email interview for Inforworkd and I explained why/how. The article was then syndicated and wound up on PC World, NetworldWorldComputerworld US,  and obviously Computerworld NZ.

One of the things I complained was that even though I was a paying customer, wait for email support reply was more than 48 hours and here is the comment from someone else:

"There's no one to really call if you're having a problem," says Greg Arnette, who as CTO of email archiving vendor Sonian is both a Google Apps user and a competitor to Google's Postini service. While phone support is included in Google Apps Premier Edition, "They do everything they can to direct you to the online forums," he says.

And their online forums don't seem to be really monitored by their support people... This is the paragraph from my interview:

New Zealander Mauricio Freitas, a blogger at the tech publishing site Geekzone, abandoned Google Apps for Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite after it took Google 48 hours to contact him about problems with Google Sync for Mobile.

And here is the quote from a Google PR person (probably in the UK):

Google says it steers customers to its online support when the company believes that will provide a faster and better answer. It also says the 24/7 phone support it offers in its paid version is aimed at administrators, and that it relies on resellers to provide phone support for users and to help companies with especially large or complex challenges using Google apps.

But isn't the whole idea of having priority access (including a PIN you must use to authenticate yourself to get the support request looked upon) to skip the forums where there is no Google presence?

Resellers can do some good phone support, but they probably won't do free work. And the fee paid to Google is not for reseller phone support - in other words no, thanks I don't want to pay for support I already paid for.

And finally, the problem I was experiencing was at the service level, nothing to do with using the service configurations. It wasn't something a reseller could fix for me, but something that required Google developers to look at. Which they didn't.

Disclosure: I still have Google Apps (the free version) for some personal domains. I am a keen user of Google Ad Manager, Google AdSense, and Google RelatedLinks. I am very happy with those other applications and Geekzone has been used as study case for Google AdSense, and as an example for Google RelatedLinks. So don't take this piece as a "I hate Google" post. It's a critical view of some parts of their services that just don't work as they should.

Why bother with Google DNS (or any other third party DNS resolver)?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Dec-2009 18:07

The web is hot with news of a new, free DNS resolver service powered by Google. A DNS resolver will answer requests from your computer or router and translate names (such as into IP addresses such as - the actual address servers are known by on the Internet.

This is not the first third party DNS resolver server around - other well known services include OpenDNS and DynDNS Internet Guide. These services already offer more feature than Google's free resolver - including automatic blocking of known malware sites, adult sites, custom configuration based on account and your network.

Most users will probably be interested in getting quicker replies to their DNS requests - after all a webpage may contain many invidual items and each will require access to a server, so ultimately just loading a single webpage may require many DNS requests. Obviously this applies to first visits to a domain - most OS or routers will cache DNS responses locally.

But are these third party DNS resolvers faster? I used the DNS Benchmark program to test my ISP's own DNS resolver (TelstraClear), an alternative TelstraClear DNS resolver (old Paradise servers), Telecom DNS resolver, WorldxChange DNS resolver, OpenDNS, DynDNS and Google DNS.

The results, from a New Zealand perspective, are below. As you can see Google DNS is certainly not the fastest of the bunch. Actually both Google DNS resolvers are slower than everything else, except for one of the DynDNS servers (the other DynDNS server is actually faster than Google's).

Another important thing to consider when using a third party DNS is how well your ISP work with services that use a CDN (Content Distribution Network). A CDN uses geographically distributed servers to bring content closer to users. This means when you access content from you might be accessing a server in Singapore, while people in London will access the same content from a server in Europe.

For this to work the DNS resolver will give your computer the DNS to the closest location. When you use a third party DNS resolver, one sitting in the U.S. for example, you will get the wrong "closest" location. On TelstraClear for example this will cause problems with their stateful firewall. Your computer will request some elements from Facebook for example targeting a server in the U.S. but the response comes from a server in Singapore. At this moment their firewall will block the connection - and your browser will be there waiting forever (or for a very long time).

So it's not always great to use a third party DNS resolver - unless you know exactly why and how.


  Final benchmark results, sorted by nameserver performance:
(average cached name retrieval speed, fastest to slowest)

  203. 96.152. 12 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  - Cached Name   | 0.010 | 0.012 | 0.020 | 0.002 | 100.0 |
  - Uncached Name | 0.154 | 0.198 | 0.325 | 0.043 | 100.0 |
  - DotCom Lookup | 0.156 | 0.226 | 0.334 | 0.062 | 100.0 |
                    TelstraClear Ltd

  203. 96.152.  4 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  - Cached Name   | 0.010 | 0.013 | 0.017 | 0.002 | 100.0 |
  - Uncached Name | 0.151 | 0.197 | 0.328 | 0.042 | 100.0 |
  - DotCom Lookup | 0.151 | 0.261 | 0.338 | 0.066 | 100.0 |
                    TelstraClear Ltd

   58. 28.  6.  2 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  - Cached Name   | 0.019 | 0.021 | 0.025 | 0.001 | 100.0 |
  - Uncached Name | 0.019 | 0.021 | 0.026 | 0.001 | 100.0 |
  - DotCom Lookup | 0.019 | 0.022 | 0.027 | 0.002 | 100.0 |
               WorldxChange Communications

  203. 97. 78. 43 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  + Cached Name   | 0.019 | 0.021 | 0.025 | 0.001 | 100.0 |
  + Uncached Name | 0.147 | 0.188 | 0.302 | 0.032 | 100.0 |
  + DotCom Lookup | 0.150 | 0.257 | 0.332 | 0.069 | 100.0 |
                    TelstraClear Ltd

  203. 97. 78. 44 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  + Cached Name   | 0.019 | 0.022 | 0.028 | 0.002 | 100.0 |
  + Uncached Name | 0.148 | 0.191 | 0.319 | 0.040 | 100.0 |
  + DotCom Lookup | 0.148 | 0.230 | 0.338 | 0.061 | 100.0 |
                    TelstraClear Ltd

  202. 27.158. 40 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  - Cached Name   | 0.019 | 0.022 | 0.028 | 0.002 | 100.0 |
  - Uncached Name | 0.153 | 0.209 | 0.332 | 0.046 | 100.0 |
  - DotCom Lookup | 0.147 | 0.168 | 0.208 | 0.019 | 100.0 |
                    Telecom Xtra ISP.

  202. 27.156. 72 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  - Cached Name   | 0.018 | 0.026 | 0.186 | 0.024 | 100.0 |
  - Uncached Name | 0.150 | 0.209 | 0.327 | 0.045 | 100.0 |
  - DotCom Lookup | 0.146 | 0.172 | 0.209 | 0.021 | 100.0 |
                    Telecom Xtra ISP.

  216.146. 35. 35 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  - Cached Name   | 0.146 | 0.149 | 0.154 | 0.002 | 100.0 |
  - Uncached Name | 0.150 | 0.210 | 0.322 | 0.056 | 100.0 |
  - DotCom Lookup | 0.151 | 0.225 | 0.312 | 0.055 | 100.0 |
                Dynamic Network Services

  208. 67.222.222 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  - Cached Name   | 0.146 | 0.149 | 0.157 | 0.002 | 100.0 |
  - Uncached Name | 0.148 | 0.212 | 0.345 | 0.057 | 100.0 |
  - DotCom Lookup | 0.150 | 0.267 | 0.336 | 0.056 | 100.0 |
                      OpenDNS, LLC

  208. 67.220.220 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  - Cached Name   | 0.146 | 0.149 | 0.158 | 0.003 | 100.0 |
  - Uncached Name | 0.148 | 0.230 | 0.588 | 0.091 | 100.0 |
  - DotCom Lookup | 0.149 | 0.248 | 0.321 | 0.060 | 100.0 |
                      OpenDNS, LLC

    8.  8.  8.  8 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  - Cached Name   | 0.177 | 0.192 | 0.477 | 0.046 | 100.0 |
  - Uncached Name | 0.181 | 0.245 | 0.485 | 0.074 | 100.0 |
  - DotCom Lookup | 0.192 | 0.297 | 0.386 | 0.066 | 100.0 |
                 Level 3 Communications

    8.  8.  4.  4 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  - Cached Name   | 0.177 | 0.198 | 0.399 | 0.053 | 100.0 |
  - Uncached Name | 0.182 | 0.259 | 0.485 | 0.079 | 100.0 |
  - DotCom Lookup | 0.193 | 0.301 | 0.402 | 0.068 | 100.0 |
                 Level 3 Communications

  216.146. 36. 36 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  - Cached Name   | 0.212 | 0.214 | 0.219 | 0.002 | 100.0 |
  - Uncached Name | 0.214 | 0.282 | 0.492 | 0.062 | 100.0 |
  - DotCom Lookup | 0.231 | 0.277 | 0.335 | 0.034 | 100.0 |
                Dynamic Network Services

   58. 28.  4.  2 | The DNS server at this IP address is
  actively refusing to answer queries made by this client.
  It should not be used for normal client-based resolution.
               WorldxChange Communications

  UTC: 2009-12-05, from 04:51:33 to 04:52:26, for 00:52.613

Introducing Geekzone Freeview Pizza Evenings 2010

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Dec-2009 13:27

I have posted in our forums dates and details for the Geekzone Freeview Pizza Evenings 2010. As you suspect by the name Freeview is our main sponsor for the event - but we have other companies providing drinks and spot prizes.

The most important thing to note this time is that we want to make sure Geekzone users have access to the event, so we decided to do the following:

- Sometime in January 2010 we will open registrations.
- People who replied in the forum discussion (or watched that topic) will be contacted via email and allowed to register first.
- After 48 hours we will open registrations to all other users who registered on Geekzone before 1st January 2010 and had at least two posts.
- After 72 hours we will open registrations to all other users who registered on Geekzone after 1st January 2010 (up to a maximum of 15 tickets).

I will keep updating the forum discussion with all sponsors - there are some very good ones coming on board this year.

I am not allowing comments in this blog post otherwise people will comment here instead of replying in the forums (yes, I know you wouldn't but someone else might).

Add to the Story: a Christmas Tale...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Dec-2009 14:41

Just received an email telling me about an interesting way of getting people to create a magical story about Christmas... The Add to the Story promotion sounds like fun: people can call a number Vodafone is making available for a very limited time, listen to the last sentence left from the previous caller and add to it.

You can call 250 (free from Vodafone mobile) or 0800 777 028 tomorrow 4th December from 9am through 6pm to participate. Prize winners will be notified instantly.

Vodafone will then make an animated video of the lines and will post it on YouTube. And there are prizes too: iPhones, HTC Magic, travel vouchers, movie passes and a $10,000 Air New Zealand travel.

Telecom New Zealand Christmas Tree in Wellington 2009

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Dec-2009 10:44

Last night I had the chance to share some drinks with a few friends (courtesy of Telecom New Zealand) before going to the Frank Kitts Park to see the opening ceremony of their Christmas Tree in Wellington. Here is the clip with all the kids in the park "helping" Santa start the lights.

From now until Christmas people can visit the tree. You can also donate gifts to Women's Refuge - there's a special box there to receive donations.

You can also interact with trees (Wellington and Auckland): visit to have some creating your own light show and then upload it to view the results on the real tree later.

What copyright really means in New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Nov-2009 17:49

The "© kiwiright" documentary explains the meaning of copyright laws in New Zealand (and the world) and is a great introduction to the current copyright debate going on in New Zealand. Juha Saarinen talks to us about the current state of copyright in New Zealand. For more information visit the Creative Freedom Foundation.

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.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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