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The IDC New Zealand Government Insights Conference 2007

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Aug-2007 08:36

While attending the Tech Ed New Zealand 2007 (check my Unofficial Tech Ed blog) I had the opportunity to meet the IDC New Zealand Country Manager, Amit Gupta.

From this meeting came an invitation to attend the IDC New Zealand Government Insight Conference 2007, happening this week in Wellington.

I will be there during the event, which sounds a very good discussion of technology applied to e-Government. Look for me.

The anti-smacking bill fear - the nanny state

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Aug-2007 08:18

This is not a technology blog post - be warned. It's almost a political statement. It is here to let our PMs know I am not a supporter of the so-called Anti Smacking-bill.

Why? Because it terrorises parents, spreading fear that an idiot neighbour (which I don't think we have any) or badly informed citizen can just call the Emergency services number and report a parent with "hearsay", for something that every child do, such as a tantrum or a bed time crying.

A good example is this story on New Zealand Herald, "Toddler tantrum brings three cops knocking" and "No I don't abuse my kids but thanks for checking".

My daugther Isabella cries in the morning. She cries when she doesn't want to go to bed. She cries in the middle of the night to let us know she wants some milk. She can't speak yet, so she does one of the things she can to communicate with us. to catch our attention when we are not looking - because she's really good at baby sign language I must say, but it only works when we are looking at her, obviously.

I don't believe the anti-smacking bill will make child abuse in New Zealand go away. Parents who were accused of having killed children are not worried about what can happen to then if they smack a child - because they do worst things as we have seen in the latest stories of toddlers being taken to hospitals just to die a few days later.

That is not smacking. That's beating. That's abusing.

I told my wife one evening that I was thinking a police officer would knock in our door, and if that happen I would happily say "Great you are here officer. We need a baby sitter". Not really. We don't. And we don't need a nanny state that is worried with small things while people go around killing children.

Summer of Code 2.0 teaser video

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Aug-2007 13:54

This is the Summer of Code 2.0 teaser video... And yes, that's us, Geekzone being one of the companies participating this year.
The Summer of Code 2.0 applications are now open to any Computer Science or Information Technology students who will be completing their 2nd year this year or above and want to work for a Wellington company this summer. There are over 20 companies signed up for this year's programme and they’re eagerly looking for students to help them work on research and open source projects.

Poll: what would you like to see in the next HP laptop? Help make it happen!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Aug-2007 10:26

I have received an interesting and very important invitation: to help model the next HP laptop.

That's right. The HP product design team wanted to reach out to users and invited some bloggers and industry experts to realy to them what consumers want in a laptop.

So, please post in the comments below your feedback and what you expect on your ideal PC.

I will collate the comments here and send to HP through a forum created for us to post comments and feedback on design, functionality, features, etc.

You can also contact me in private if you prefer.

Another Vodafone Vodem review

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Aug-2007 13:02

Perhaps the guys at Vodafone should have a read at Thomas Beagle's blog post about "portable Internet with vodem".

It doesn't look like he is impressed with "broadband everywhere":

One of the cool things about the Vodem is that it not only installs itself as a communications device, it also includes a built in flash-drive that contains the software and drivers you need to make it all work. This means there’s no need for a separate CD. Also, when you update the modem firmware you’re also updating the built in software. Nifty.

The first problem was the Vodafone supplied software. For some reason that I completely fail to understand, it appears that telephone companies and manufacturers of telephone equipment are incapable of writing good PC software. Fixing this wasn’t too hard - discard the software and set up the connection within Windows as a normal PPP connection using the Vodem. Problem #1 solved.

The Vodem would rather spend time endlessly hunting between GPRS/UTMS/HSDPA, flicking its little indicator LED from blue to greeny-blue and back again, then actually moving data back and forth. Each time it switches there is an interruption in your internet connection that lasts 10-30 seconds, and there’s no guarantee that when the connection is re-established that it won’t immediately switch back again.

It’s got to the point now that I’m looking for the commands I need to disable some of the connection types in the hope that it will be more stable (because it’s treated like a modem it uses a very extended version of the AT command set). GPRS may be slow but I’d rather have a stable slow connection than an intermittent fast one. Sadly the documentation isn’t very good and the Huawei website doesn’t let commoners like me download the manuals. Time to go googling, I’ll post an update when I find the solution.

Verdict: The Vodem is a neat idea and I really want it to work but I can’t recommend it at this time.

Sprite Backup 6.0 for Windows Mobile discount code

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Aug-2007 13:27

I have just posted about the new Sprite Backup software in our Geekzone News section, and I would like to share some of that software with you guys - Sprite Software was kind enough to provide me with a discount code for anyone interested...

If you don't know Sprite Backup is written by the same guys who brougth us Ghost (before it became Norton Ghost). It's a great backup solution for Windows Mobile devices, both Pocket PC and Smartphone. And now it's compatible with Windows Mobile 6.

So if you fancy a $5 discount on this software simply visit the Sprite Software on-line store and use the code "freitasm" during check out to get your discount!

The discount code is valid through 17 August 2007, so hurry up.

UP Gadgets, Games and Geeks: Lust for Apple Mac

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Aug-2007 09:34

Last night I attended the Unlimited Potential Gadgets, Games and Geeks event. Quite interesting, although disappointing to see less exhibitors than last year's event.

Great chat - met with some of the Wellington bloggers (Sandy, Brenda, Stuart), tech friends (Sam Ng, John Clegg) and some of the Geekzone users based here in Wellington (inanerscole86, sbiddle).

The talks were interesting, with the keynote Brian Sweeney talking about the NZ Edge. Speakers ranged from gaming development here in Wellington through OpenSolaris development (yes, there's someone in the project here in Wellington as well).

Now, if Rennaisance Apple division's Lee Hebert would send me a MacBook similar to the one he used for his demo, I would be inclined to try it for a while - and even get one myself if it's really that fast even after loading all the programs we need. Seeing how fast he started Windows XP Pro on Parallels made me say to Geekzoners around (and my wife after the event) that I would switch.

Seriously fast. Faster than my top of the range 64 bit Acer Ferrari.

The Vodafone free broadband plan...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Aug-2007 21:19

It appears this coming Sunday Vodafone New Zealand and its ISP IHUG will announce a new "broadband" plan.

The way I heard the story (and so far it's a rumour) it's an entry level offer, where customers sign for a plan paying a NZ$40 monthly phone line rental, and if you use NZ$20 or more in toll calls then you will have 1 GB (gigabyte) "free" for that month.

Now, I have to question if there will be enough "broadband" for everyone, or we would see another "Xtra unleashed" fiasco.

If I recall correctly (damn, I've sent this month's Unlimited magazine to the "archives" already) Russell Stanners, Vodafone New Zealand CEO, commented on an interview that he agrees IHUG's previous owners didn't invest much in infrastructure. Please correct me if you have the magazine handy to verify this.

Would this be the reason why IHUG's sending out e-mails to customers on its "unlimited" plan informing that "unlimited" now is actually limited in terms of speed?

This is, according to some users in our forums, the e-mail:

We hope you're loving your broadband with ihug!

We've had lots of feedback about making our broadband 3 fair use policy easier to understand...

And that's just what we've done, so we wanted to give you a quick update (as per our terms and conditions)!

Gone are the days of rolling averages and slower speeds if you ever use more than 500 MB in a day - our new broadband 3 policy is much simpler.

How does the new fair use policy work?

From September 3rd, 2007 you'll be able to do more online each day without being slowed down!

That's because we've increased the fair use policy to 2GB a day (in other words, 2 full length movies or around 400 songs). If you do happen to download more than 2GB on a day, you'll simply surf at 64kbps for a day - no more confusing calculations to make!

Our new fair use policy also makes sure a few 'enthusiastic' people don't spoil things for everyone else by using unreasonable amounts of data - so if someone uses more than 20GB a month, their speed will be reduced to 64kbps for the rest of that month. (If you happen to be one of the few that use more than this each month, broadband 3 probably isn't the best plan for you - click here to check out our other plans with up to 60GB of data!)

Click here to find out more about the new fair use policy.

We hope this makes your broadband 3 plan easier to manage so you can enjoy your time online without any hassles!

So if you download 2GB in a single day, then your speed is limited to 64 Kbps the next day and if you use 20 GB in a month you can still enjoy yor unlimited allowance, but throttled to a 64 Kbps connection for the rest of that month.

Perhaps these limitations will allow for a bit more bandwidth for the 1GB/month users?

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 tip: use virtual SCSI drives

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Aug-2007 20:57

When I created my Windows Server 2003 virtual machine a few years ago I didn't know that using the virtual SCSI interface instead of the virtual IDE interface would provide me with about 20% increased performance.

Now I know - and I am using Acronis True Image to clone the current IDE-based virtual HD to a SCSI-based virtual HD.

In the process I am also adding a few gigabytes to this virtual drive. The SCSI virtual interface allows for larger drives too.

The only thing that surprised me was the requirement to reactivate the Windows Server just because of the virtual SCSI interface addition. For me a minor change, but for Windows Server 2003 "significant", even though it was adding the interface, not replacing it.

Not moving to Telecom New Zealand after all

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Aug-2007 15:07

As much as I wanted to port my Vodafone number to Telecom New Zealand, I am not doing it... The only open-term option is a very expensive plan at almost $80/month. Anything else requires customers to sign up on a 12 month contract.

I don't have a contract with Vodafone, I am free to move to another operator. But the other operator is locking out at least one new customer by requiring a long term contract.

Contracts are bad. The operator lock you in, and you have no choice if their services are bad, or the coverage is not ideal, or if their plans are getting more expensive than the competition.

It's all great for the operator, bad for the consumer.

As I posted before, contracts also no only lock people in. They lock people trying to port mobile numbers out.

How dumb. Of both operators.

As for why I wanted to move out of Vodafone? I can't trust them. Too many stories behind stories. Personal trust is gone.

And the Vodafone service where it's most important to me - at home, is gone downhill. It used to be great, with five out five bars, full HSDPA speed. Since then the service has gone so bad it's hard to keep a voice call. Data is almost impossible around here.

So I am between bad services and lack of trust with one operator and dumb contract requirements with another.

We need a third decent operator.

I would like to say thanks to the folks at Telecom New Zealand who tried on my behalf, but couldn't go around stupid rules...

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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