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The Apple iPhone coming through Orcon to New Zealand?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Oct-2007 08:15

Is it possible that New Zealand ISP Orcon is working to bring the Apple iPhone to the country? There are rumours going around about this possibility.

Back in May 2007 Orcon signed a wholesale agreement with Vodafone New Zealand to launch a GSM mobile service. Originally promised for October, this launch has been delayed.

The original agreement established Orcon as a wholesale operator, meaning they would be offering an Orcon branded set of products delivered over the existing Vodafone network infrastructure.

Then the Apple iPhone rumours started. I first heard on the streets. Then now I am reading in one of the Geekzone discussions:

So someone suggested something to me yesterday re an official iPhone release in NZ, and putting the various pieces of info together... it almost seems obvious who's going to officially bring the iPhone to NZ. Anyone care to speculate?

And in a subsequent reply:

It may explain TradeMe's hostile position towards iPhone listings (Orcon have "close" ties with them)

Maybe Vodafone's EDGE slip up wasn't really a slip up, but a sign of things to come?

Could explain Kordia's interest in mesh wifi.

Could explain Oron's (sic) delay in launching their cell operation.

Would be an excellent product to launch a cell operation with. Plenty of priceless free media exposure and hype.

If it's true, it'd be a cunning move I think.

The "Vodafone EDGE slip up" is a reference to a page on Vodafone New Zealand's website that incorrectly listed "EDGE" as part of their service sets. After the page was posted on Fossie's blog Vodafone quickly fixed it (almost too quickly, something like withing 30 minutes) and posted in our forums an explanation.

Officially Vodafone New Zealand only runs a GPRS/WCDMA/HSDPA network here, but I have seen occasions that my Palm Treo 750v showed an "E" signal (although it could be a bug in the software?).

The Kordia reference is to its new Kordia Metropolitan Wi-Fi service launched this month, with plans to cover the central locations in New Zealand's main cities.

And don't forget, Kordia bought Orcon a few months ago.

Why wouldn't Vodafone New Zealand launch the iPhone themselves? Perhaps because the Vodafone Group has passed this, leaving the iPhone for T-Mobile Germany, O2 UK, Orange? And because the Vodafone Music Store is the top on-line music store in the country, and wouldn't want to hurt its offering with Apple iTunes Music Store?

Does it make sense at all?

Forum moderation: lolcat

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Oct-2007 20:23

One of the Geekzone moderators (Tony) created this lolcat for me:

Yes, some days we have our fair share or spam and trolls. But these posts usually don't last long on the database. A big thanks to all the moderators in our forums for their hard and continuous work!

Early November 2007 I will be meeting again with all moderators here in Wellington. We will be checking what changed on Geekzone this year since the last moderators' meetup, get new suggestions and see what's ahead of us for the site.

What Windows Live is not

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Oct-2007 09:35

Today I was reading Presentation Zen, and found a link to an old post comparing Bill Gates and Steve Jobs keynote style. It's worth a read if you are involved in public speaking. The whole blog is worth it actually, including the new Learning from Bill Gates and Steve Jobs post.

Now back to my subject, there I found this picture:

Windows Live
Internet-based personal services to bring together your digital world

Going to I found this definition:

Windows Live brings your online world together and helps you manage your social network.

Sounds good. But why the only services listed there are Search, Mail, Spaces, OneCare, Favorites (sic), MSN? Where are all the other Live services? Why aren't all these new exciting services listed?

Where are the links to Live LocalMaps, Skydrive, Messenger and dozens of other services? Since you're "bringing together", can't your guys just create an updated page with all the services linked from there? Or is it too hard even for Microsoft to keep track of what's being developed?

On another note, why Microsoft insists that browsers using English (New Zealand) shouldn't see the services that English (Australia) or English (US) see? Even when I try to post a feedback on a service I am using I get an error message saying that English (New Zealand) is not a supported language. How is the English (New Zealand) different from English (Australia) or English (United Kingdom) (sheep jokes aside)?

Microsoft, you should make sure Windows Live is bringing together digital content, not splicing it. You should stop doing this artficial "locale"-based language market separation thing that is not real.

Don't take me wrong, I use Live services - check for example (free e-mail accounts for anyone!) - but it is hard to find things and is even harder to explain to your parents what Live does.

On New Zealand DST changes again: Apple and Debian

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Oct-2007 08:56

My previous post about the New Zealand DST changes got thousands of reads, because it explains an issue that affects corporate and consumers in general. I congratulated Microsoft and Telecom New Zealand for being proactive.

After the post I found out in the comments that Vodafone New Zealand sent out a letter (yes, snail mail!) to RIM BlackBerry users explaining that DST was coming and things should be changed on their servers. Vodafone sent a letter one week before the DST change came into effect! This is not time enough for Sysadmins to prepare patches, apply, work things out. How poor is that?

Vodafone put up a page with some information, and at least they are clear that changing the clock on the BackBerry itself will not change the appointments - this needs a change on the BES.

Again, if you think just changing the time on the device is fine, read my previous blog post. The DST problem affects not only appointments created in the new DST but it affects appointments you create during the new DST that fall outside the standard DST.

Then we have Apple who has not released a patch at all. A discussion in the Geekzone Forums asked "Where is the Apple update?"... It's nowhere. Apple just recommended users to manually set the clock. This is not good enough because it only fixes the system clock. What about appointments and application running on the basis of the system timezone? Are we sure it works ok? The only thing you find is a lousy page with instructions on how to change the time on Mac OS X.

Now I read this on Slashdot::

"Although a tzdata release that includes New Zealand's recent DST changes (2007f) has been out for some time, Debian are refusing to push the update from testing into the current stable distribution, codenamed Etch, on the basis that 'it's not a security bug.' This means that unless New Zealand sysadmins install the package manually, pull the package from testing, or alter the timezone to 'GMT-13' manually, all systems running Debian Etch in New Zealand currently have the incorrect time, as DST went into effect this morning. As one of the last comments in the bug report says, 'even Microsoft are not this silly.' The final comment (at this writing), from madcoder, says 'The package sits in volatile for months. Please take your troll elsewhere.'"

Clearly, if I were a corporate IT admin, CTO, CIO I would just stay away from those vendors who refuse to make their systems work or help sysadmins.

Patent system is crashing: IBM wants to patent outsourcing

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Sep-2007 09:22

A story forming on Slashdot tells us that IBM is trying to patent outsourcing to other countries:

The USPTO is considering IBM's patent application for Outsourcing of Services, a 'method for identifying human-resource work content to outsource offshore of an organization' to 'countries where cheaper labor prices and/or cheaper materials are available.' Then there's Big Blue's Electronic Marketplace for Identifying, Assessing, Reserving and Engaging Knowledge-Workers for an Assignment Using Trade-Off Analysis, which provides a handy-dandy IBM calculator that drives home the point that you'll pay less for IGS India workers, whether onshore or offshore. And with its System and Method of Using Speech Recognition at Call Centers to Improve Their Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction, IBM describes how to operate in 'low cost foreign countries' with 'support people not having good English language skills, or having an accent that makes it difficult to understand them' by exploiting technology developed for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as other accent reduction techniques."

The problem is that some underpaid officer will look at this and most likely stamp "approved". I don't think they are paid to think about "obvious" or "prior art".

What else is next for companies to try and patent?

On New Zealand DST changes: congratulations Telecom, Microsoft... Sorry Apple users

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Sep-2007 08:28

Today is the start of the updated New Zealand Dailight Saving Time. I have to say congratulations to Telecom New Zealand and Microsoft. And be sorry for any enterprise Mac OS X users out there.

I read a lot of misinformed opinion about DST changes, which is something that affected New Zealand (with extra weeks of DST), Australia and soon the U.S.

To prevent having to apply patches to their PC, even some technical people thought that they could just disable the automatic clock update on their server OS and manually change the time during the extra weeks, turning the feature back on when the old DST time kicked in.

The problem is that that same people use Exchange and Outlook to manage their appointments, and even though there's no "international" appointments not many people realise how things are stored.

Appointments (and many other data) are stored with time in the GMT timezone. This way it's easy to show the correct time if and when the user moves from one timezone to another. The problem is that if we have DST rules in our PCs that do not conform with the real life rules in place then appointments will show one hour later or earlier during those extra DST weeks. Worst if we have updated machines interacting with non-updated machines.

The problem goes even further if you create appointments during those extra weeks, but falling outside DST. All those appointments will be shifted one hour when the DST ends, and havoc is upon us.

Now, this is only one example. What about international travel where people crosses many timezones? And if you create meetings in other timezones?

Microsoft New Zealand did a great job of creating patches for their Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows Server OS platforms, plus for Exchhange Server, Microsoft Outlook and Windows Mobile.

Not only Microsoft issued a patch for all those platforms, but this patch was sent with the monthly automatic update a couple of months ago, so your mom and pop won't have their PCs running on the wrong time, neither the big corporate will have problems.

Telecom New Zealand even sent out a SMS to all of their Windows Mobile users informing people to visit a website to apply the patch. Vodafone New Zealand did not go that far, but sent out a press release asking people to check with their manufacturers.

Sun sent out information and an updated Java Runtime, as well other platforms had the same.

What computer company was missed? Apple Inc did not issue a patch for this. Were they too busy with the Apple iPod Touch, or simply deemed the New Zealand market too small to need an update? I understand there's a third party patch for this, but users will have to manually find it and apply the correction - which is not ideal. It should have been an automatic update. 

I hope they do release an update for the U.S. market though.

UPDATE: Rod is not happy with his RIM Blackberry and Vodafone New Zealand either.

UPDATE: for users interested in the Microsoft patches, follow this link to the Microsoft NZ Timezone page.

Windows Home Server Code2Fame Challenge Winners

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Sep-2007 10:02

One of the cool things you can have on a Windows Home Server is the ability to have Add-ins running from the console - so you don't need to actually RD to your server.

The Windows Home Server team have just announced the winners of the Code2Fame Challenge, a competition to award those most interesting Add-ins for Windows Home Server.

The 1st Prize went to Whiist, which is an Add-in I am already using, and allows you to create websites and photo albums from your content, all without having to touch IIS or any other configuration.

The 2nd prize went to Jungle Disk, an on-line backup solution that stores your content in the cloud using Amazon S3 services. And the 3rd prize went to Community Feeds for Windows Home Server, an Add-in that pulls down RSS feeds and make them avaialble to connected Xbox 360 or media externders.

I didn't know about Jungle Disk before. It is currently in a private beta and I am trying to get a copy to review. It sounds good - I already use Carbonite to backup three laptops around the house, but I would like to have an off site backup for my Windows Home Server. Let's see how it goes.

Some Geekzone Forums updates: jobs forum, sponsorship

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Sep-2007 11:21

We have created an exciting add-on to our Geekzone Forums: the Jobs section, where IT recruitment companies are welcome to post "Wanted" announcements. IT recruiters can create their own Geekzone profile and post in the forums. There's no fee for this.

We also have just updated the software running our Geekzone Forums to allow for a "sponsorship" option:

We currently run banner advertising on our forum pages, but we understand some forums are really targeted at a select audience. So we are providing the opportunity for companies to advertise on a specific forum.

This means that even if we have a banner campaign running on the forum, the "This forum is sponsored by" space will always be filled with the sponsor's banner - currently it's filled with any banner advertising we have running.

We will see the first sponsor coming up soon in the Jobs section.

To give an indication of the audience, Geekzone is the largest Technology website in New Zealand in Total Unique Browsers (Nielsen//NetRatings Aug 2007) and the third largest Technology website in New Zealand in Local Unique Browsers (Nielsen//NetRatings Aug 2007).

If you want to sponsor one of the Geekzone Forums, please contact me directly.

Windows Vista Ultimate Extras update

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Sep-2007 11:22

The Windows Vista Ultimate team has released the latest version of DreamScene:

Windows DreamScene transforms your desktop from a static wallpaper image into a full-motion video. In conjunction with Stardock, we’re pleased to also offer a number of cool, new animated DreamScene desktops, including “Aurora”. Additionally, you can use your own videos as DreamScene desktops or visit Stardock’s website to download Stardock’s DeskScapes (an add-on to DreamScene) as well as a collection of fabulous content created by Stardock and members of the Ultimate community.

This is really cool stuff, but not what Windows Vista Ultimate is all about. Bloggers and press have been running around Microsoft because the Ultimate Extras was promised to be something extraordinaire for users of the top Windows Vista edition, but it seemed slow to deliver.

Today I got some feedback from Nick White, the guy behind the official Windows Vista Blog:

[While] we've essentially failed our Ultimate customers to date, we're working hard to exceed their expectations in the long run.

And Long, it appears the Ultimate Dev team is still working...

New Zealand Broadband needs action now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Sep-2007 10:03

Defining a Broadband Aspiration (pdf link):

The New Zealand Institute has identified national economic benefits from broadband in the range of $2.7-4.4 billion per year with further upside potential possible.

Capturing many of these economic benefits increasingly requires high speeds and so New Zealand’s policy focus should shift from encouraging penetration to increasing the speed of the network. This means investing in a fibre network.

There is a significant cost to waiting. The longer that New Zealand waits, the more economic value it will forego and so New Zealand should approach the investment in fibre with urgency.

Also another read, Securing Our Digital Trade Routes.

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.

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