My window to the world

Testing a Windows Home Server configuration

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Sep-2007 11:20

Yesterday afternoon we had a nice surprise here: a box arrived from PC Gear with a Windows Home Server build, ready to review.

If I don't hear from anyone else I'd say this is the first New Zealand company building dedicated Windows Home Server machines.

It's a nice box, with an ASUS P5S-MX SE motherboard, running an Intel Pentium Dual Core Processor. I don't know the exact memory and disc configuration yet, because I am right now packing and leaving to the airport - I will be back in a couple of days and then put this machine through testing.

I have now a copy of PerformanceTest 6.1 that I am using to test a Lexar SSD Express Card and will use to test this Windows Home Server too. Stay tuned!

Speaking at TUANZ Business Internet Conference

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Sep-2007 09:10

I was invited (and accepted) to speak at the TUANZ Business Internet Conference 2007, here in Wellington, 7 and 8 November 2007.

The conference theme is "Moving Your Business Online - The Tipping Point us Upon Us". I will lead the "User Generated Content" session (7 November, 4:10pm) and also participate in a panel session "Blogging your customers" (8 November, 4pm).

I am also planning to be attending the TUANZ Business Internet Awards 2007 afterwards.

TUANZ (Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand) is a not-for-profit organisation that for 20 years has been promoting the needs of end-users of telecommunications in New Zealand. 

There's a YouTube video inviting people to visit the TUANZ website and also to attend the conference. I don't think Ernie will be playing in the conference though...

Why Peter Gutmann is wrong about Windows Vista DRM

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Sep-2007 16:15

Ed Bott is writing a series of articles to debunk New Zealand Reseearcher Peter Gutman for ZD Net:

Last month, I wrote about the FUD surrounding Windows Vista and DRM. The FUDmaster is Peter Gutmann, a New Zealand researcher who wrote a paper last December that made a series of outrageous and inflammatory claims about Windows Vista. Since then, Gutmann has expanded the paper to more than four times its original size. The current version available on Gutmann’s website clocks in at more than 26,000 words, making it longer than some recent works of fiction.

And length isn’t the only thing Gutmann’s paper has in common with the average pulp novel. Gutmann’s work is riddled with factual errors, mistaken assumptions and unproven assertions, distortions, contradictions, misquotes, and outright untruths. In short, it’s a work of fiction all on its own.

Gutmann is a clever writer, and he’s able to string together nouns, verbs, technical terms,and acronyms in ways that sound persuasive. In this three-part series (look for Parts 2 and 3 later this week), I’m going to dig deep into Gutmann’s work and show you just where he got it wrong.

I’ve been working on this story for months. Part of the problem is that Gutmann’s paper is a rambling, sloppy, disorganized mess, and nine months of additions have made it even more difficult to pick out the serious arguments from the scare stories and snark. Gutmann’s favorite technique is to string together anecdotes he’s plucked from magazines and websites, juxtapose those stories with sentences from presentations by Microsoft engineers and developers, and then speculate on the implications, often with wildly incorrect results. And worst of all, Gutmann appears to believe everything he reads—as long as he can fit it into his anti-Microsoft world view.

The other part of the problem is Gutmann’s lack of hands-on experience with modern consumer electronics gear and with Windows Vista itself, which shows in nearly every sentence he writes. I’ve done extensive hands-on testing and have personally seen Vista do things that Gutmann says are impossible. Rather than write 26,000 words of my own, I’m going to pick out more than a dozen substantive errors in Gutmann’s piece and explain why they’re wrong.

Peter is a "Professional Paranoid" as he describes himself on his page. You can read Peter's paper "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection" on-line for more information on his theories.

The downside of trusting third party to manage your services in the cloud

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Sep-2007 18:35

Microsoft and Google are big players in the hosted services area - with other good names in the space too, such as Zoho.

But what happens when things stop working?

Microsoft Windows Live Custom Domains is down. I can't get to it to administer domains. It's like the server simply doesn't exist. When I tried to find a support contact it was impossible. There's none. I visited Microsoft's website and clicked on Feedback. There's a huge list of Live services, but Windows Live Custom Domains is not there.

How can we get control of our domains back? A couple of redirects that use the Live Domains service are not working.

If a company relies on Live domains they would now be without access to this service for some time. And there's no contact point.

A friend pointed me to a URL where I could enter feedback to specific Windows Live Products. And this is what I got:

Your current language is English (New Zealand). Support for Windows Live Custom Domains is currently only available from the following list.

Seriously? hat is different in English (New Zealand) from English (Australia) or even English (United States)?

I am able to send feedback when I change my language to English (Australia), but then I get this:

Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. We appreciate your feedback and use it to help create better services and products. Unfortunately we cannot provide a personal response to your comments.

Hello!? Your service is down. We can't contact anyone, and if we do provide feedback you tell me you won't contact me back?

This kind of problem is what makes some companies walk, no, run away from hosted services. How can they trust a third party with their information, if the third party cannot be contacted in case of a fault?

We take some companies for granted, but we forget that in this age every service seems to be "beta". "Beta" doesn't mean "under expert testing" anymore. It means "we have a cool service but we can't guarantee it will work, because we keep tweaking it and breaking it".

UPDATE: The service is up, with a downtime of four hours, during which I couldn't contact anyone because I speak English (New Zealand).

Windows Mobile 6 devices with 1GB internal memory

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Sep-2007 16:37

I just received the TDS Nomad, a rugged Windows Mobile 6 device, to use during my session at the Microsoft Partners Conference and it's great.

The features are really incredible: VGA screen, 1 GB flash memory for storage, 128 MB RAM for program execution, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a 806 MHz processor. Add to this a GSM module so it can connect mobile data and on top of that, it's a rugged device!

Now I am having some fun configuring it to synchronise with an Exchange Server 2007 test account provided by AnywhereExchange, so I can demonstrate all the new messaging and security features.

I got it from GeoSystems, TDS Resellers here in Wellington and region.

TUANZ Business Internet Awards 2007

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Sep-2007 10:25

This is a funny short movie from the Telecommunications User Association of New Zealand (TUANZ):
I will be speaking at the TUANZ Business Internet Awards 2007. Found through Ben Kepes's blog.

The All Blacks demand iPhones

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Sep-2007 10:02

This is really good... The All Blacks demanding iPhone. In French.

AMD Quad-Core Opteron Conference Call

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Sep-2007 11:29

Early this morning (early in New Zealand, since the call was in the U.S Pacific timezone) I attended a conference call with AMD's Scott Carroll and John Fruehe. John is the marketing guy for Server and is directly involved with the AMD Quad-Core Opteron launch and marketing.

You can find a good review of this new processor at The Tech Report ("AMD's Quad-Core Opteron 2300 Processors"), but I'd like to share some of the slides I had access to and point to a few features that makes this a very interesting new platform for servers.

The first slide is just an overview of this new family of processors. The most interesting features are the AMD CoolCore Technology, for reducing energy consumption by turning off unused parts of the processor; the Independent Dynamic Core Technology, an enhancement to AMD PowerNow! technology, allowing each core to vary its clock frequency depending on the specific performance requirement of the applications it is supporting; and Dual Dynamic Power Management (DDPM), which provides an independent power supply to the cores and to the memory controller, allowing the cores and memory controllers to operate on different voltages, determined by usage. 

The Independent Dynamic Core Technology sound really promising. For comparison, on Intel processors all cores must run at the same speed, regardless of individual workload.

Also interesting is that AMD provides 512KB L2 cache for each core, and a shared 2MB L3 cache. They say this reduces possible bottleneck that could come from a single cache implementation.

AMD is heavily investing in virtualisation, and Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors come with Direct Connect Architecture, providing an integrated memory controller for reduced memory latency, and Rapid Virtualization Indexing, a new AMD innovation in AMD Virtualization technology designed to reduce the overhead associated with software virtualization. Rapid Virtualization Indexing takes functionality that was previously performed in software and accelerates it by performing those functions within the CPU.

The last slide is the introduction to Average CPU Power (ACP) metric, which represents processor power usage, including cores, integrated memory controller, and HyperTransport technology links, while running a suite of high utilization workloads to be more indicative of the power consumption that end-users can expect.

ACP is a useful metric for data center operators when estimating power budgets to size their datacenters.

Overall it was a good conference call, although lacking in the questions side - in my case I thought the presentation and slides provided a good coverage of new features and other information.

Mobile 2.0 Conference

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Sep-2007 19:24

The Mobile 2.0 Conference sounds cool. And it's even sponsored by Vodafone.

It's interesting seeing Vodafone sponsoring something in the U.S. where they are an almost unknown player, except for their (minority) participation on Verizon Wireless, one of the two main CDMA operators there...

Mac zealotry

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Sep-2007 19:05

I can empathyse with Rob May's "Viral Venom":

It raises a very interesting question for businesses. They all want word of mouth. Most companies would love to have the kind of dedicated customers that Apple has. But, what do you do when they love your product so much that they turn off other people. Seriously, I have very very negative feelings towards Macs right now. I went from thinking "I'll keep the Mac, and wait to give Vista a test drive before deciding what to buy down the road" to "I never want to give Apple another penny. I hope they go out of business so that these suckers can't get any more of their precious computers."

Several people commented on the rabid negativity in the comments. And it is likely some potential Mac purchasers were scared away by them. Regardless, it reflects very negatively on the Mac community. They come across like an unhelpful bunch that will mock you for not thinking like them. Which is odd, because the people I know personally that own Macs are always eager to give tips and help me navigate it.

As a business, you have to show how you are better than the competition. You want and appreciate when your customers are out there preaching for you, talking about the advantages of your product. But what do you do when an overzealous handful actually drive customers away? It's like sports - you want people to paint their faces and cheer for your team, but you don't want anyone fighting with the opponent's fans after the game because that reflects poorly on you.

I've experienced this before, and I really don't like the way some people call others names simply because of a technological choice.

And before you start, we have two iMacs here, as well as the Windows machines...

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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