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Unbundling has begun: Orcon and Vodafone

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Mar-2008 12:23

And so it has... New Zealand ISP Orcon has announced its "unbundled" service called Orcon+, which means their equipment is installed on Telecom New Zealand's premises and their service is provided over the existing copper network that already touches your home (unless you are like me and have a cable modem service coupled with a Voice over IP phone line which means no POTS line here).

This also means that you no longer need a Telecom landline contract just to support your Internet connection via DSL.

Two of the Orcon@home+ plans tie ADSL2+ connection with up to 24 Mbps downloads (the catch is that you must be at most 3 Km from the local exchange) with some advanced telephony services, of course provided over their IP network.

You can have additional unlimited calls to up to 15 international destinations, for an additional NZ$10 per country.

With all those new speeds you would think that the company would offer a better starter allowance - the top plan comes with 25GB of traffic included - but additional data allowance can be purchased

Of course there's a (long) discussion on Geekzone about this new Orcon LLU service. Duncan Blair, Orcon Product Group Manager, managed to answer lots of questions our users posted so it is worth reading the thread.

A couple of things that occur to me though: their press release says additional data is $1 / GB. But you can sign up fort $40/ 50GB which is cheaper. But does it means I have to sign up for this cheaper data before I use it, and if not then it will not available after?

The next comment is regarding number portability. Apparently you can keep your current Telecom phone number when moving to this service if you are staying in the same address. But you cannot keep the number if moving - so very different from number portability and probably dependent on which exchanges their equipment was deployed.

The service is currently available in some areas around Auckland (Ponsonby, Mt Albert, Browns Bay, Ellerslie, and Glenfield), with others coming later during the year. Only Auckland listed though...

Not to be outdone, Vodafone New Zealand also issued a press release yesterday telling everyone they too are installing equipments on Telecom's exchanges. Currently they are targeting fifteen exchanges, with five already completed. Vodafone will be providing services that include VoIP, ADSL2+ and VDSL. They even promise up to 50 Mbps download speeds - if you are within 1 km from the exchange.

Vodafone says by the end of the year they will completed installation in all 42 exchanges around Auckland, plus other 20 exchanges in other centres around the country. They say this will be the biggest unbundled network around here.

In the meantime I hear Telecom New Zealand is working on its own VoIP service - but no public information for launch date is available yet - and the same from TelstraClear, although I also hear TelstraClear's plan is to offer VoIP services to business customers only.

UPDATE: Duncan has answered my questions about number portability and data caps.

At last, some Windows Mobile security certification

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Mar-2008 10:14

In my last project before leaving Unisys to work full time here on Geekzone I was working with an Australian organisation who wanted to deploy Windows Mobile devices.

The only outstanding point in the whole project was security certification. Back then I asked Microsoft Australia, Microsoft New Zealand, Microsoft Corp and my Windows Mobile MVP peers for any information on this.

I came out with no answers. I knew there was something for the U.S. DoD, but couldn't find anything for Australia and New Zealand.

It seems this is now solved,  at least in Australia, where the Australian Deparment of Defence, Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) has accredited both Windows Mobile and Blackberry solutions.

I still haven't heard of anything similar here in New Zealand.

Windows Mobile Library on Technet

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Mar-2008 08:35

If you are an IT Pro and part of your projects involve Windows Mobile deployment and management, I recommend you read the new Windows Mobile Technical Library on Technet.

Xtra users be prepared for more e-mail troubles

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Mar-2008 09:31

If you are a Telecom New Zealand's Xtra customer and suffered through the Yahoo!Xtra Bubble migration, it might be good to brace yourself - again.

The word in our Geekzone forums is that Xtra is changing how it handles e-mail, again. And this page confirms those changes from 18 March.

Hoiw does this change affect you? If you are using Xtra for your e-mails and always send e-mails from an address that ends on then nothing changes.

If you are using Xtra to send e-mails with address that end in something different thn then keep reading.

Whenever someone sends an e-mail, a SMTP server is used to relay the message to other servers for distribution.

In most cases, ISPs allow access to their SMTP servers to users on their own network, or to authenticated users if coming for other networks.

But SMTP servers do not require the "FROM" field in the message to be exactly the user's e-mail address.

This means that once a user successfully authenticate with the SMTP server it is possible to send e-mails as someone else. And this can be a problem. People can just authenticate to a SMTP server and impersonate someone else. Or use it for spam purposes.

To eliminate ths problem Xtra has decided (or was it Yahoo! who decided this?) that a "validation" is required to confirm that the e-mail address you are using to send a message is actually yours.

It's simple to do it, just follow these instructions.

Even though it's simple to do it, I can imagine a lot of people will be caught on this. I just hope their help desk this time is preared to provide people with the correct answers.

Windows Live Foldershare refresh live

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Mar-2008 07:16

I read this morning that Windows Live Foldershare is live. It's a good, transparent and automatic way to synchronise folders and files between computers.

The service itselft is nothing new. Microsoft bought Foldershare a couple of year ago and it appears it now shows an updated web user interface and full integration with Windows Live accounts. The PC client has been updated as well - which means fuill Windows Vista support now.

Other than that I wonder if the 10,000 file limit per sync pair is still there. It makes the software unusable for me, because some of my folders have way more than 10,000 files - the documents folder for example, with all the web, images, etc.

IIS7 Remote Administration tool

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Mar-2008 08:31

I was told this morning the IIS7 Remote Administration tool is now available for download. If you are already running Windows Server 2008, then this is a great little thing to have in your toolbox.

To install this on a client PC you will need Windows Vista SP1, and the Internet Information Services 7.0 Management Console installed already installed.

On the server you must have the Management Service configured and running. More instructions here.

The connection is over SSL, and if you are running a VPN and don't allow access through your firewall this should be a safe and quick way to manager IIS. In my case I am using Hamachi (it works great on Windows Server 2008) and I configured the Management Service to accept connections only from my private IP address.

Who needs security - or is mobitv burying their heads in the sand?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Mar-2008 09:45

It looks like mobitv didn't see this one coming - or did they just bury their heads in the sand?

The service streams live TV to mobile devices (no need to visit the site if you are not in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru or Dominican Replublic) and being the provider of such a service you would think they have a secure platform for content delivery.

Or not... Someone posted on HowardForums detailed instructions on to access the service and a direct link to a single file that allows acess to the entire service. The file in question ( seems now to have been removed, but until this whole thing started it was available to anyone to access it - no authentication, no encryption, nothing.

Basically the trick was to download the file, and using your browser open the local version to then have access to many of the live TV streams offered by Sprint to their customers.

The folks at mobitv didn't like that someone posted detailed instructions on HowardForums about this and sent out a notice. They actually contacted the hosting provider to have the HowardForums taken down.

What's wrong here? First, I agree detailed instructions on how to go around getting free services is a bit too much.

But on the other hand mobitv created a content delivery platfotm that would not guarantee access to members only, apparently lacking authentication, encryption and possibly more.

C'mon guys, sharpen up. If you create a service, make it right. Don't plan on putting the locks after the doors are wide open. You should have done this before. You have your system fixed, Be sure to create better system next time.

As for HowardForums, leave the forum alone. For what I read it's wasn't even posted there first, because the poster says this was found in another Sprint forum somewhere else on the Internet.

Should telcos store your SMS for a (possible) investigation?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Mar-2008 09:34

The New Zealand government is proposing a change in laws that would see telcos being required to store SMS that go through their networks, to facilitate police investigations if needed.

This is wrong, very wrong, and David Farrar says it why:

It is one thing to have a law which requires telcos to record the content of text messages *after they receive a search warrant targetted at a particular individual. But this is about having the telcos store every single text message we send or receive, so it can then be accessed.

The precedent this would set is that ISPs should also keep a copy of every e-mail message you ever send or receive, in case the Police should ever want it.  And then how about also requiring them to keep track of every website you have ever visited.

Telcos and ISPs should co-operate with the Police *after* a warrant has been served requiring interception or recording of data which a Judge/JP has authorised as necessary for a criminal investigation. But that is very different to having them forced to store personal communications on every NZer, so that law enforcement authorities can access them at some later date if they wish. Why not also have the teclso [sic] record every voice call, just in case they are also needed?

The New Zealand government should not propose this, and this should not be allowed.

WindowBlinds for Microsoft Windows: it is fun...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Mar-2008 08:43

A few months ago I received a copy of WindowBlinds to test but I never posted a review. Simply because I was running Windows Vista 64 bit on my laptop and I did not want to mess with that for any reason (I know a bit dramatic, isn't it?).

Anyway, last night I decided to install the software and see how it performs. First I downloaded their latest version to make sure all would be ok.

WindowBlinds comes with a few skins, but you can download more from their site. Some are free, some are premium. One of the default ones that come with the software is quite cool anyway and I am using it to demo the animation effects in the following video:

One of the themes makes my Windows Vista laptop look completely like a Mac OS X machine, except that minimise works on Windows.

This will modify the most common elements on your desktop - the themes. This includes buttons, scroll bars, fonts, the Windows Orb, taskbar, etc.

I did not notice any performance impact on my laptop with those modifications.

If you want to go a step further you can use other software from Stardock to customise the experience even more, including icons, a full taskbar replacement, etc.

I found only one program didn't work quite well with WindowBlinds, and that was SnagIt, for screen capture. SnagIt would crash every time I right-clicked its icon in the system tray - the only program to do this. So now I am divided between keeping WindowBlinds and limiting SnagIt usability or remove it from the system and stop having fun.

The 2008 Democratic National Convention gets a little help from New Zealand company

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Mar-2008 22:40

I have been holding this for a while, since I was told about it by SilverStripe's Sigurd Magnusson during the Kiwi Foo Camp - I was keen to write about it back then but he asked me to hold a bit.

Now it's official and I can tell: the Open Source content management system (CMS) SilverStripe, developed here in Wellington, was selected by the U.S. Democratic Party as the platform for its pre-election conference, the Democratic National Convention 2008.

Well done guys, congratulations on this win.

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!

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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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