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The Pocket PC is dead... The Apple touch wins

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Sep-2007 10:29

Seriously, the announcement of the Apple touch shows what a Pocket PC should've been branched to a couple of years ago - despite some efforts from HP with their sub standard "media companion" series.

Just to check the specs, the Apple touch is like an Apple iPhone, but without the cellular voice and data part. It comes with Wi-Fi for Internet access, including the Safari browser and iTunes Music Store. And it comes with 8 GB and 16 GB storage. We can't find this on Pocket PCs.

With its wireless you can sample and purchase music on-line, and next time you plug it to your PC the songs are downloaded. Easy as...

And there's the user interface, based on the multi-touch technology, the same used on the iPhone.

The Nokia N770 would be the closest competitor to the iPod touch, if it wasn't for its non-consumer appeal. It's a geek device, but with very nifty features - I really liked the one I had for a week for review. But users in general don't want to go messing around with a complicated Linux user interface.

Meanwhile, what were Microsoft's attempts to get to the mainstream consumer market?

Windows Mobile, the operating system behind Microsoft's Pocket PCs and Smartphones evolved into a hybrid system used on Portable Media Centers. Those are dead now. They were large, heavy with short battery life. Oh, there was the iRiver Clix, which was really small, but I didn't even see one in real life.

Then came the Zune, with an user inteface kind of similar to the Portable Media Center. Usable, but limited. And the fact that with the Zune you can only use the Wi-Fi for limited music sharing - no Internet browsing, no on-line purchases, nothing else.

Then we have the multiple Microsoft approaches to on-line music. We had the MSN Music, now closed. We had the Plays for sure initiative, now dead. We had the Urge, no longer supported by MTV which has just moved to Real Networks Rhapsody services.

Microsoft tried three or four different "platforms" and they all were limited - either user interface, regional availability of hardware, or very restricted and limited availability of content.

When are they going to learn?

Stop spam with your business card

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Sep-2007 22:35

Since the Unsolicited Electronics Message Act 2007 is coming into effect here in New Zealand, I thought we are in need of an update of an old practice.

Do you know when you go to a conference and there are all those "Place your business card in this jar to be in to win [insert your product here]"? Yes, we've seen these around a lot.

I want to be in the draw, but I don't want to be contacted later for anything else but to be told I won something!

So I thought we could add this line to the bottom of our business cards:

[x] Please do not contact me with additional information about your products or services

And with this simple line we clearly opt out of such communications. I wonder how many companies would be happy with this?

Symantec plans to stop spam

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Sep-2007 16:44

Yesterday I talked over the phone to Symantec New Zealand's Richard Prowse, mainly about the upcoming Unsolicited Electronics Message Act 2007, which will come into effect 5 September 2007.

It was an interesting chat, where we discussed about how effective this act can be, knowing that the majority of spam comes out of the U.S. and some Asian countries. Those people are not interested in our laws and they completely disregard order anyway.

But Richard made a point that this is a good start, the start of something larger, including the collaboration of other countries, by making it clear that we do not tolerate this intrusion.

And here comes the thing: Symantec is working to release yet another layer in its anti-spam product line, this time providing a software as a service implementation "in the cloud". This means a non-software and non-appliance solution, aimed at companies from five to 2000 employees.

Basically Symantec will reroute a company's e-mail to their own servers, scan and clean any e-mails before forwarding those to their final destinations. It's not much different from a solution such as Spamdunk, I think.

The interesting thing is that Richard's team is currently looking for local partners to bring this service to the market, and also working to establish a New Zealand-based datacenter to provide the service in-country.

It looks like the new service will be available sometime in the next month or two.

You can get some insight into the Unsolicited Electronics Message Act 2007 by reading this post on Bell Gully.

Speaking at TUANZ Business Internet Conference and Awards

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Sep-2007 11:22

I was invited to speak at the TUANZ Business Internet Conference and Awards 2007, 7-8 November 2007, in Wellington.

I am one of the guest speakers and I will talking about user generated content, user interaction and more. I am also participating in a panel discussion entitled "Blogging your Customers".

TUANZ (Telecommunications User 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. Their vision statement  is "Targeting the Top Ten in the OECD for Communications Technology."

The association aims to increase the uptake, educate New Zealanders as to the potential of the technology, and push the Government and vendors to deliver top quality, affordable service.

Managing disc space on Windows Home Server

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Sep-2007 18:04

One of the most interesting features of Windows Home Server is how easy it is to add storage, move files from one drive to another and then pull out the drive you want to replace.

The Simpletech 250GB external drive I have here is very noisy, so I got a Seagate 500GB to replace it. I plugged the new drive in and I can now click "Remove" to take the 250GB drive out of the pool. The 1TB disc you see in the screenshot is a Maxtor OneTouch 1TB external drive.

As it is now, my Windows Home Server is currently managing 1.7 TB (terabytes) of disc space, soon to be reduced to 1.5 TB.

Any file on the 250GB drive will be relocated to the other storage, and when the drive is empty I get a message telling me it's ok to remove it. Since it is a USB drive I can do this with the server running - I added the 500GB with the server up and didn't have to stop to add it to the pool.

Windows Home Server works by creating a 20 GB system partition on your primary drive, and the rest of the disc is used to store files. If you have more than one drive, the other drives can be used for storage and you can enable "duplication" for shared folders.

Duplication ensures files are copied to different drives so that you have a copy in the case of a disc drive fault affecting one of the units. It's almost like mirroring, but it's at folder level.

When a file is copied to the server it will land into the data partition on your primary drive, and over time it will be moved out to make space for new files. After being moved out a special pointer ("tombstone") is created in the data partition, pointing to the actual file in the storage pool.

The "balancing" operation moves the files out of the data partition into the pool and makes sure duplication is happening.

Of course you don't have to know this at all. You just have to use it, set duplication for some folders and the rest is automatic.

Cable modem speed: when is TelstraClear 25 Mbps coming up?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Sep-2007 09:22

Of course I can't complain too much, when comparing the speedtest results we get on TelstraClear's 10 Mbps cable modem service with those results people get on ADSL connections around the country.

But where's the 25 Mbps service you promised us, TelstraClear?

Microsoft Exchange Server SP1 Beta and Server ActiveSync

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Sep-2007 09:37

I was just reading a post about new features in Microsoft Exchange Server SP1 beta, now available for MSDN adn TEchNet Plus subscribers.

Server ActiveSync users (Windows Mobile and other platforms such Symbian) will have lots of new stuff they can control from the server side:

New Policies – We've added a ton of new policies.  Look for an upcoming post for details. 

Bandwidth reductions – Less round trips and less data transferred while maintaining functionality.

S/MIME support – S/MIME has been added and has backward support for WM 5 + MSFP.  We have not only added S/MIME but there is now policy control around the use of S/MIME.

Sync State Upgrade for Migrations – Allows users to maintain their setting while their mailbox is transitioned from Exchange 2K3 to Exchange 2K7 (no need to re-sync to the new server).

Default Policy Support – A default policy can now be set so administrators don't have to apply the policy to each user or write a script to iterate though users.

Cancel Remote Wipe – Canceling remote device memory/storage wipes is now available in OWA and though Exchange Management Console.

However, I see an update for Windows Mobile 6 in the horizon already, seeing that this very important line is there: "For the record, there is corresponding client work that needs to be done to fully deliver this functionality to end user."

We all know what it means: partners will get to the market first. Palm has added ActiveSync support to VersaMail, DataViz has incorporated ActiveSync into its RoadSync product for Symbian S60, Symbian UIQ, and Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. Nokia has also licensed ActiveSync for its Symbian S60 products and a few other partners are delivering products based on the ActiveSync protocol (even laptops with Windows SideShow, such as the Toshiba R400).

But updating Windows Mobile devices is always a pain, because we rely on mobile operator allowing the updates, which the way it goes requires people to buy new hardware a lot of the times (unless the device was release fairly recently).

Let's see how it goes this time...

New Zealand, land of Halo 3 movies

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Aug-2007 20:45

It looks like New Zealand is not only the land of The Lord of The Rings, King Kong, The Last Samurai or Narnia. It is also the land of Halo 3 Combat: Part 1.

This movie was filmed by Neil Blomkamp here in Wellington, New Zealand and is the first installment on a trilogy used to promote the Halo 3 launch. The team at Weta Workshop helped creating all the props.

Some of the photos I received from the filming:

TomTom coming to New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Aug-2007 10:39

Not much information at the moment - what products, services, etc - but this is a heads up for all of you who are looking for a GPS-enabled navigation solution for New Zealand: I got an invitation to attend the TomTom product launch in New Zealand, 11 September...

I know there are some in the market - New Zealand's own Navman (now owned by MiTAC) and a couple of other software solutions. It will be good to see what the world's largest personal in-car solution provider will bring to the country.

I won't be able to be there it though, because I will be heading to Sydney to attend the Symantec Vision 2007 (had booked that already).

Windows Mobile timezone udpate for New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Aug-2007 21:53

You can now download two cab files (one for Windows Mobile 5.0 and another for Windows Mobile 6) with update timezone information for New Zealand, including the new DST changes:

New Zealand timezone changes for Windows Mobile 5.0
New Zealand timezone changes for Windows Mobile 6

(And yes, if you read closely, even Microsoft is not using the new names Windows Mobile 6 Preofessional and Windows Mobile 6 Standard, still using the old Pocket PC and Smartphone naming convention...

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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