My window to the world

Vodafone NZ SIM locking

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-May-2008 09:47

Yesterday I got a tip that Vodafone NZ started SIM locking their handsets.

Vodafone had never locked their handsets in New Zealand, but I guess the idea of having competition from NZ Communications and Telecom New Zealand coming later this year is something that frighten them.

I agree that SIM locking handsets could be a smart move, if the operator provided the phones with significant discounts. There's no confirmation that Vodafone NZ will discount locked handsets.

Operator in Europe offer handsets at very low price when locked. Or even free.

As it happens, currently being the only GSM operator in the country, sell their handsets at very nice prices (for them), with no subsidy at all, regardless of contracts being signed or not.

In other countries SIM lock is used a lot - even though in the U.S. it is legal for users to unlock the handsets at any moment.

In general we expect an unlock code to be issued at the end of a contract, or if the customer pays a fee.

There's a discussion going on Geekzone now about this, and as it stands there's isnt any official information from the company. Total silence.

We have no idea if Telecom NZ or NZ Communications will SIM lock their handsets. But we are still months away of seeing their networks commercially available - Telecom NZ is said to launch their GSM network in November 2008, meaning Vodafone NZ has started locking their customers six months ahead of the competition.

The good old days of "no contracts, no locked phones" are gone from this country.

UPDATE: This is now confirmed.

The 31 Days of the Dragon badge

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Apr-2008 15:09

Ok, here is our badge for the 31 Days of the Dragon competition:

31 Days of the Dragon

You will see it in our Geekzone frontpage and our Geekzone forums pages. If you click it you will go to the hub site with links to all participating websites - and remember we will be running our competition from 29th May through 5th June - this is the period you will be able to enter the competition on Geekzone to win one of the 31 HP HDX Dragon packages.

Building on-line communities

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Apr-2008 20:15

Wow... Thanks Ben Kepes for these kind words!

...It’s interesting to note the number of high level executives from New Zealand Telcos who spend time on Geekzone - sometimes the discussions there challenge them but better to be challenged and know what the market thinks than to exist with a “head buried in the sand” attitude.

...I agree entirely - Mauricio, whether you call him ambassador or figurehead or whatever of Geekzone, is front and centre as the leader in terms of direction and strategy. Similarly Richard McManus over on ReadWriteWeb.

Thank you everyone who reads my blog and follow Geekzone - for your help building Geekzone up over the years was most valuable.

All the best to everyone!

The 31 Days of the Dragon contest series: where to enter to win one of 31 HP HDX Dragon Entertainment laptop

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Apr-2008 08:45

The 31 Days of the Dragon is a promotion between 31 participating web sites (including our own Geekzone), with the sponsorship of HP.

HP is working with those websites offering 31 prize packages - one a day for 31 days during a period from 09 May through 08 June 2008.

Each participating website will have its own competition with its own prize, each a HP HDX Dragon Entertainment Notebook loaded with features and software.

The HP HDX Dragon comes with Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit) and is powered by an Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor X9000 (2.80GHz, 6MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB). Other features include 20.1" diagonal WUXGA High-Definition HP Ultra Brightview Widescreen (1920x1200) 1080p, 4GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm), 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS, HP Imprint Finish (Dragon) + Fingerprint Reader + Webcam + Microphone, Intel PRO/Wireless 4965AGN Network Connection and Bluetooth, 500GB 5400RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive (250GB x 2), Blu-Ray ROM with SuperMulti DVD+/-R/RW Double Layer, Integrated HP HDTV Hybrid TV Tuner and 4 Altec Lansing speakers with HP Triple Bass Reflex subwoofer, and 9 Cell Lithium Ion Battery.

The entertainment notebooks will come with these software titles: Microsoft Office, Corel PaintShop Pro X2, Corel Painter Essentials, Corel Ulead Video Studio Plus  11.5, Symantec Norton Internet Security.

For the gamers in us the winners will receive the following games: Viva Piñata,Microsoft Flight Sim, Microsoft Flight Sim Expansion Pack, Gears of War.

And since this is an entertainment beast, you will enjoy the following Blu Ray movies out of the box: Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End.

The total retail value of each of these prizes would be over US$5,000 - and there are 31 to be won!

Each of the following websites will run a seven day contest between the following dates:

02 May - 09 May
03 May - 10 May
04 May - 11 May
05 May - 12 May
06 May - 13 May
07 May - 14 May
08 May - 15 May 
09 May - 16 May
10 May - 17 May
11 May - 18 May
12 May - 19 May
13 May - 20 May
14 May - 21 May
15 May - 22 May
16 May - 23 May
17 May - 24 May 
18 May - 25 May
19 May - 26 May
20 May - 27 May
21 May - 28 May
22 May - 29 Mau
23 May - 30 May
24 May - 31 May
25 May - 01 Jun
26 May - 02 Jun
27 May - 03 Jun
28 May - 04 Jun
29 May - 05 Jun
30 May - 06 Jun
31 May - 07 Jun
01 Jun - 08 Jun

Note that each will run their own competition, so there will be different rules for each site. You should visit each site and look for more information there. If there is no competition information live yet, then please visit the sites again later between those dates in the table.

You can see this same information and any updates on The 31 Days of the Dragon. You will also find an OPML file and links to RSS feeds from all thoe sites.

We will have our competition page on Geekzone with the appropriate instructions. Our plan is to run a month long competition page so you have more time to enter it. Stay tuned - subscribe to our RSS feed so that you don't miss this opportunity, or keep visiting Geekzone.

This competition comes thanks to HP and BuzzCorps.

Monday morning you will find out more about this prize pool...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Apr-2008 19:01

This is going to be really cool. We will see a winner, every day for 31 days. Literally thousands of dollars of prizes and I think you will like the prizes.

Come back Monday morning to find out more.

UPDATE: Here you can read more about the 31 Days of the Dragon.

New VFX advanced VoIP services

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Apr-2008 12:40

I have just posted in our Geekzone forums about the upcoming VFX advanced VoIP services. Worth a look if you are considering porting from your current telecommunications provider to this VoIP service, like I did late in 2007.

We haven't had copper here at home for some time now, all coming down through the most excellent TelstraClear cable modem service (except that they want to charge a fortune for a 25 Mbps service!) - and then we ported our phone line to WorldxChange VFX so we do everything over the Internet here.

Want Safari? No thanks...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Apr-2008 10:55

A nice FAIL there:

And by the way, no I only have QuickTime installed. Why Apple thinks it's cool to offer me Safari or iTunes is beyond me.

As Chaks noted before, reporting some of his friends' reaction to "Safari":

...let me meet some of my friends here and ask them about this. These people use iPod and iTunes either in XP or Vista, and, these users aren't tech savvy or know much about Computers. They just want their PC or Mac or whatever, to work.

So, here is what some of my friends told,

1) Some thought Safari "was something" that iTunes requires
2) Some thought iTunes browser "was upgraded" to Safari
3) Some didnt even knew that something called "Safari" had been installed

The Intel Hell

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Apr-2008 09:01

On a not so shameless copycat of "Dell Hell", I introduce "Intel Hell". This is how I call when you contact Intel's customer support, reports a problem (1, 2) that only occurs on their Intel 945GM chipset - and they tell to contact the manufacturer.

You then point out to the support person that this problem is occurring across a series of different boards from a variety of manufacturers, so it would be better if Intel could update their reference drivers (which work well and even include Windows Vista EVR support). And they reply with this:

Thank you for contacting Intel(R) Technical Support.

We appreciate your feedback on this matter. We will make sure your comment reaches the proper department for future consideration.

Thank you for taking the time to communicate this issue to us.

This reply basically it means "sorry, I don't think we will be doing anything, and if this problem really annoys you then just get another computer with a decent chipset. Preferably not one of ours".

Shame on you Intel, leaving your customers behind like this...

Help bring the Sci Fi channel to Sky

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Apr-2008 12:45

A discussion started on Geekzone a few days ago, asking people for opinions and help trying to get the Sci Fi channel into the Sky TV channel line up.

This is not a new topic, and it was discussed already almost a year ago. Apparently someone was told by Sky that "Sci Fi channel is a niche channel" - which is something I disagree with.

This time someone started an on-line petition - and the number of signatures is quite good now. You can help by signing the online petition to bring the Sci Fi channel to Sky TV.

Sign this petition now.

Geekzone Pizza evenings - Auckland, Christchurch

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Apr-2008 19:27

The Geekzone Pizza evening Wellington was a success and we are now running the Geekzone Pizza evening Auckland (26th May, fully booked, waiting list open) and just opened registrations for the Geekzone Pizza evening Christchurch (5th July).

We don't know yet where we will be holding the Christchurch event but this time it will be on a weekend. If you want to come to this one please RSVP in the discussion.

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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