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 for sale

Sat, 05 May 2007 07:55:00 PDT

I've decided to put one of my (many) domains names up for sale given I'm not going ot use it in the near future.

The domain name is which is a great domain if you have a cafe or a small chain of cafes and want to have a great URL to go with it - one people will remember anyway.

I've put it up for auction starting at $100, so if you have a cafe and think this might be a good domain take a look.  Its not too expensive (image)

The auction is here on trademe now.


Sun, 22 Apr 2007 14:37:00 PDT

Olfaction is the sense of smell.

I picked this up from this article on Wikipedia which states:

Sensory Integration Dysfunction is a neurological disorder causing difficulties with processing information from the five classic senses (vision, auditory, touch, olfaction, and taste)

So how is your olfaction today?  Generally mine is pretty bad, but your milage may vary.

Probably not a word you'd use lots, but there you are :-) - assessing the risks of text messaging

Wed, 18 Apr 2007 05:48:00 PDT

Technology is a good thing in terms of what it enables, however as with everything on this rock, everything that can be used for good can also be used for evil.

Text messaging is an example of this.  While it enables individuals to communicate across a room or across the world quickly and conveniently, it also enable people to send bad messages.

Today Text Bullying (as it is called) is a endemic problem in schools. Teachers are increasingly unable to address problems because where they once took place in the school yard, they are now taking place over invisible airwaves and they are almost invisible.

I'm trying to get my head around the issue, so I've put together a survey that asks questions to try and find out how big the problem is and think through a solution.

You can access the survey at  There are 37 questions in total, but some are optional.

If you have kids with mobile phones, please take 10 minutes to fill out the survey.  If you know of someone who has kids, please forward the URL or a link to to them and ask them to fill it in.

Thanks for your help!

What rich text control for ASP.Net 2.0?

Sun, 11 Feb 2007 12:03:00 PST

I have a need for a rich text edit control for ASP.Net 2.0.  I've had a quick look around and found that there are a few out there ranging from aweful to very good.

I need a control that will allow the user to do the basics: bold, italic, underline, strikeout, indenting, bullet points, images, hyperlinks, copy and paste change font and colors and thats about it.  Nice to haves would be undo/redo, smilies, preview and paragraph alignment.

There are some really good controls out there (such as this one from Telerik), but the good ones cost money - serious money.  The telerik control is US$395!  I've got two websites I want to use the control in - initially just once on each site, and US$395 seems a little over the top - particularly given neither of these stiesa are businesses which will give a ROI.  It makes the US$795 control kit (with 18 controls in it) look really attractive.

So what do other peolpe do?  Do you fork out or make do with second rate stuff?  Is there a good and reasonably priced control out there that I can get hold of that anyone knows about?

Is this my next UMPC?

Wed, 17 Jan 2007 23:50:00 PST

Engadget have the scoop on a nice looking UMPC.  No one knows who the manufacturer is, but it looks interesting none the less.

Engadgets story is here, and Carrypad has more information here (Go Steve!)

I've got clearance to get a new UMPC (at some stage - not tomorrow), so maybe this is it?

Tag - I'm it (or at least one of them)

Sun, 31 Dec 2006 06:54:00 PST

Craig tagged me a few days ago - but I've been cleansed away from computers (man that feels good) and missed it - but I found it in my ego feed (see the end of Craigs post)

So for what its worth - here are five things you didn't know about me.

1) I used to be into Tae Kwon Do - and was training for the 1992 Olympics where is was going to be a demonstration sport. This was all interrupted by #2

2) I'm a Christian - not born into a Christian home, but I became a Christian when I was 17 - changing my ideas of what I should do with my life (see #1). If you know me you probably know this, but lots of people dont know it.

3) I didn't go to University - instead I spent five years working in a Freezing works as a Meat Inspector. I also think that university can sometimes be overrated

4) Two weeks after I met my wife I decided she was the one for me (I was 18). Consequentially we married young (20 and 21) and are still together.

5) When I was at school I was the quiet shy guy who did pretty average in school and got picked on by my peers.

Who to tag... Lets do a circuit of the .Net Bloggers in NZ.

Peter Jones - who probably thinks this is silly and childish and may refuse to participate.

Jeremy Boyd - MS Regional Director and all round nice guy

Chris Auld - MS Regional Director and proud owner of red shoes

Ivan Porto Carrero - NZ web dev guru

.Net User Group Blogger of the year JD should also be included...

Lets see if any of them read my blog

New Halo 3 Trailer

Wed, 20 Dec 2006 05:49:00 PST

I dont know how old this is, but given that I just spotted it on Soapbox, I thought I'd put it up here.

There is a new (for me at least) Halo 3 trailer available.

Check it out

Xtra customers getting Peeved

Fri, 15 Dec 2006 02:36:00 PST

My post on Xtra Broadband going seriously downhill has had a few comments on it now.  Mostly from Xtra customers on the Go-Large plan.

It seems to be that you get regular line speeds on any of the other plans but as soon as you switch to the Go-Large plan, you get seriously degraded service.  I cant help but think this has something to do with their traffic management plan being a little too aggressive, but there could be other reasons too.

Regardless.  This sort of customer experience (going for over a month now) is beyond a joke.  Telecom needs to sort this out now.  Its just not right.

The Go Large plan states has the following advantages:

Promise: Flat Rate - Unlimited Data (within the limits of the Fair Use Policy)
Reality: Consumers' Institute believes this "Fair Use Policy" effectively puts a limit of 700MB per eight hour peak period on Xtra's "unlimited Internet usage."

Promise: Maximum Speed - as fast as your line allows (traffic management applies)
Reality: Users can't download webpages without them timing out due to slow speeds (see story and comments here).  In addition traffic management specifically reduces speeds for certain types of usage - meaning you dont get maximum speeds where it doesn't suit Telecom.

The Consumers Institute complaint about the Go Large plan is here.  This complaint deals with the marketing aspect of the plan. The speed complaint above is both a marketing problem and a technical problem.

If you have performance problems, my advice is to switch to another provider.  It doesn't look like Telecom cares - of if they do they cant fix it.  Switching ISPs is as easy as filling in a web form and changing the account details on your DSL modem.

Telecom: This is pathetic.  You have some good network gurus - let them fix it!

Internet speeds & now it works!

Sun, 03 Dec 2006 02:11:00 PST

The switch to orcon happened on Friday, so I have usable internet again.

I've spent the weekend doing a bunch of uploads that just didn't work before.  They were snappy as they should have been.

My modem reports a downstream speed of ~2Mb and upstream of 415kb.  I know that doesn't necessarily reflect what the performance really is, but it is noticably faster than before and things just work (as they should!).

The world is a happy place again!

Blogging on Geekzone - four differentiators

Mon, 27 Nov 2006 22:53:00 PST

I've been blogging for a few years now.  I started on my own site at, then I started at Microsoft and got a MSDN blog, Not long after that I also got a Space, and since then I've had a little experience with blogger too. 

If you think I have too many blogs... you are probably right.  I do pull them all into one RSS feed on (image)

But there is something unique about blogging on Geekzone that I've been thinking about blogging on for a while.

I've harped about this before, but I dont know of many (if any) blogs that allow you to monetise them as easily as geekzone blogs.  Very nice.

Because Geekzone is well ranked on the various search engines and because Mauricio does a very good job of understanding search and net rankings this means that when ever I post on a subject it gets good readership.  Promoting the latest blog entries on the front page makes a big difference too.  The end result of this is that generally you'll get one to two hundred reads within 24 hours.  And this is on a blog with very low readership.

The geekzone community plugs into the blogging engine really nicely.  Even on my MSDN blog, I'm often lucky if I get one or two comments over a week.  On Geekzone, I consistently get several comments within a couple of hours of posting.

The comment management system is unique too.  If a user posts a comment it require confirmation.  An email confirmation gets sent to them - they have to click the link to confirm the comment.  If they dont confirm their comment it automatically gets deleted after 3 days.  I dont even have to worry about it.  And no comment gets posted without my approval.

I still think there are a couple of things that would be nice to have... referral information would be nice :-)

But I'm here to stay - this is a cool place to blog (image)

Xtra customer no more

Mon, 27 Nov 2006 02:12:00 PST

Further to the saga I posted about yesterday, I again tried uploading an updated website last night.

Again, trying to upload the same tiny files (1kb up to 48 kb) was constantly failing.  I literally spent hours trying to upload the files.  At one stage the winds seemed to be blowing right and I managed to upload eight or nine files without problems.  However I was completely unable to upload the other files using HTTP Post (through the hosts control panel) or FTP (commandline or not).

This morning I tried again, still no go, so I dumped the files onto a USB key and brought them into work.

I logged onto the control panel front end and selected multiple files to upload, clicked the submit button and viola!  IT JUST WORKS!

So what was the difference?  Simple - Here at work we DONT use Xtra broad(yeah right) band.

I'm not one for complaining much, I tend to live with little problems and work around them, and I'm not one for making dramatic announcements, but the Xtra Go Large plan has caused me to loose sleep (3 hours trying (unsuccessfully) to upload 80kb to a server??), get frustrated and eventually give up.

I'm switching to Orcon.  Bye bye Xtra.  I'm going where I can get the service I'm paying for.

Thanks to Brad for the suggestion!

UMPC's coming to NZ

Sun, 26 Nov 2006 12:39:00 PST

I just got word from Hugo that he's signed a deal with an unnamed New Zealand distributor to resell UMPC's here in New Zealand.

He wouldn't tell me who it was, but very soon we will be able to buy TabletKiosks, Samsung Q1 UMPC's and Fujitsus Ultra portables.

Interesting.  It will be good to get all the accessories, etc here in NZ... not to mention the ability to buy them here.

Xtra Broadband - it now officially sucks!

Sat, 25 Nov 2006 22:59:00 PST

I've used Xtra for yearas, their broadband hasn't been too bad for my purposes - sure it hasn't been as fast as Saturn/Telstra's cable connection, but its generally been quite useable.

Until it was unleashed.

The service Xtra broadband has offered since it was unleashed is nothing short of appalling. 

For two days in the week after the "unleashed" it was unusable.  The connection was so slow that it was literally unusable.  Enter a URL wait and it would time out with a DNS error.  On occaission I'd be able to resolve the DNS name but the site would time out having only retrieved the header of the web page.

This was particularly frustrating when you are trying to work from home.  I called the help desk and they told me that the engineers knew about the problem and would contact me via email when it was resolved (yeah right).  A couple of days later and it came back again to a useable state.

I've also been testing a website I've been building lately.  I've had a couple of people testing the work I've done via a DDNS based connection - problem is that the upstream connection speed is at best of variable quality.  Often the page just times out, and on occaision people can actually connect.

Fine - I'm not supposed to be able to run a webserver anyway (although its not like its public).

Yesterday I tried uploading pages for a site up to the production web server (from home to the internet) and the connection again became a problem. One file which was slightly larger (48kb) continually kept timing out.  The other files (varying between 5-7kb) were very slow.

I also want to upload a 10Mb file to the site - but could I do that over Xtra broadband? Not a chance!  Multiple attempts, from a couple of machines failed.  Watching the file upload on the server is like watching grass growing.  After 5 minutes it has uploaded a whopping 32kb to the server!!!

I see that the Consumers institute has some issues with Xtra's traffic management.  I agree completely.  I think that in addition to limiting the upload speed via the router settings, I suspect that they are packet shaping P2P technologies (Foldershare is awful at the moment) and the type of upstream connections (i.e. HTTP GET/Post are fine, but FTP is not).  This quote seems to ring particularly true...
"The Consumers' Institute was also concerned that Xtra's traffic management negated its claims of maximum speeds."

Telecom - I'm over your broad(not) band. 

TELSTRA - I really need a real internet connection - PLEASE PUT COAX TO MY HOUSE!  I'd almost pay for it myself!

If I can't get a decent upstream connection soon, I'll consider switching to a VODEM with HSDPA and ditching my  home phone altogether.

I'm off to find a cafenet connection to upload my files through....

NZ$100 gets you Windows Aero

Sun, 19 Nov 2006 10:48:00 PST

I've had the RTM release of Vista installed on my home computer for two weeks now. 

It's been running really well, but my computer had an old Radeon 9200SE based video card which only offered DirectX 8.1 support and thus prevented me from getting Windows Aero running on the computer.  So over the weekend I decided to do something about it.  Actually, I'd been thinking about it for a while...

So I had a look around on some of the local sites for something that supported DirectX9 and thus Aero.  Prices are actually not too bad - unless you are a gamer.  For something basic that does work with Aero, you can get them new starting at around NZ$120 (US$65).

Wanting to be cheap, I headed off to TradeMe, where I found a ATI Radeon 9550 with a buy now of $100 (the auction start price was the same as the buy now price), so I bought it.

Today I picked it up and installed it.  Windows Vista detected the card and installed the drivers for it automatically, after a reboot, I increased the screen resolution and turned on Aero.

My Windows Experience rating was sitting at 1.0 due to the gaming graphics of the old card.  The Windows Aero rating was 1.9.  After the upgrade it jumped to 3.3 and 3.5 respectively.  Not stellar, but enough for Aero!

So - if your computer doesn't support Windows Aero, chances are that you are only $100 away from fixing it.  Not only that, but it could be an easy way to increase the Windows Experience rating too.

Tags: , ,

Local coverage and a Vista TIP tip

Mon, 16 Oct 2006 14:05:00 PDT

We've had some local UMPC coverage here in NZ.

Rod did, as did Tim.

I agree with Tim.  This device is great for a secondary PC, I dont use mine for things like coding (painful with a pen), but its great for reading and surfing on.

In Vista there are new controls in the TIP (TIP = Tablet Input Panel) for getting webpages up.  You now have a button for the "http://" and another button for "www.".  If you set your local for NZ you also get ".co" and ".nz" buttons as well as the ".com" button, so to go to a webpage using the TIP you just hit the "http://" and the "www." buttons, write in the domain name and hit the appropriate TLD buttons and you are done.  Simple and nice.

Upgrading the EO to RC2

Sat, 14 Oct 2006 23:49:00 PDT

This weekend I upgraded the EO to RC2 of Windows Vista.

Rather than do a full reinstall I decided to see what the upgrade experience was like since Vista is able to upgrade from RC1 to RC2 and the full install cycle (what again!?) didn't thrill me.

Firstly if you dont know, upgrading Windows Vista is MUCH slower than installing from scratch.  A full install from scratch can be as little as 20-30 mins, where a upgrade may take three hours.  However, the time difference in theory should save the hours of reinstalling applications on the other side.

The upgrade itself went smoothly. No problems encountered at all. 

Once done I noticed that the display drivers had been updated, and that this was a bad thing (800x600 means screen panning on an EO).

I also noticed that the drivers for the buttons had been broken.

In both cases I just installed the drivers from the CD that came with the EO and everything worked as it should.

I was surprised to see that the digitiser didn't break at all.  The calibration seems better after the install than it was before the install.

I also installed RC2 on my home computer (blowing away the really old XP install).

Getting Vista going on the EO

Fri, 29 Sep 2006 04:22:00 PDT

Today I finally got Vista running on my Eo.I had a crack at it last weekend and ran into some problems, but after some internal discussion and addition testing by the Origami team I've now got it going (thanks guys).So here is my step by step.... I've used build 5728 (post RC1), but these should work fine on RC1 too.Start by attaching a USB DVD Drive with the install CD and boot from the DVD to run the installer as per any normal install.After the install you'll find that sound and bluetooth drivers are loaded.  Vista can support the VX700 chipset, but the final drivers are not yet in Vista.The first thing I did after the install was complete is install the WiFi drivers.  I downloaded the updated drivers from TabletKiosks website and put them on a USB key.  To install the WiFi drivers you need to run the installer with the Windows XP compatibility flag on and run as administrator.  Plug the USB key into the EO and extract the setup.exe file somewhere.  Right click on the setup.exe file and select properties.  Select the compatibility tab and tick the box to run the program in compatibility mode, then click OK.  Next right click on the setup.exe file and select "Run as Administrator".  Follow the prompts as usual to install the drivers.Once the WiFi drivers are installed reboot.After the reboot, you can run windows update to install touch screen drivers and a few other updates that are available on Windows Update.Once the touch screen is functioning you'll find that the calibration is way off.  When your finger is at the top of the screen the pointer will be about 1cm below it, likewise at the bottom of the screen the pointer will be 1cm above your finger.  You can try to calibrate the screen but you wont be able to touch the crosshairs, and will get feedback to let you know you are too far away from the crosshair.To fix that, you'll need to run a command prompt as administrator.  Right click on the desktop and choose new -> shortcut.  Enter cmd.exe as the location and name it as CMD or something similar.  Close the wizard.  Then right click on the command prompt and choose "Run as Administrator".  In the elevated command prompt type "tabcal novalidate", and run through the calibration as normal.  Once done your touch will be precise.  I particularly like the little mouse that allows you to right click.To get the buttons running I used the Amtek lifestyle button drivers that came on the CD.  These installed fine.The display driver that comes from windows update doesn't work with the lifestyle button drivers, but installing the drivers that came with the unit sorted this out and work fine on Vista.The only minor issue is that when I use the lifestyle button to change the screen brightness I get a UAC prompt, but given I dont use it much, its not much of a problem.  Obviously the touchpack isn't installed so the touchpack driver doesn't do anything either.So - having done all this, I now have a fully functional EO running Vista build 5728.  The device is pretty snappy - certainly no worse than XP - possibly better, but I haven't loaded any apps yet (apart from Anti-virus).I hope this helps those of you wanting to setup Vista on your EO.  I think its well worth while :-)[...]

On fingerprint readers and raw grunt

Fri, 25 Aug 2006 23:45:00 PDT

I noticed on the Geekzone page that announces the R2H that Kevin said he'd rather not have the Fingerprint reader, but instead he'd rather have a better CPU and RAM.

On one hand I agree that more RAM and a quicker CPU would be great, but also think that the fingerprint reader is more valuable than it may first appear.

Having now owned a UMPC for over a month, logging on is often quite painful if you want to protect your login with a user name and password.  This is a slate tablet thing in my opinion.  Its great to have the little keyboard that you can tap away at, but if you tend to use larger passwords (which I do) entering a password at every power on by tapping keyboard is quite frustrating.  A fingerprint reader would be a great addition and IMHO should be a must for all UMPC designers.

Having said that - I do agree that more memory in particular is a must.  I've got 512 Mb in mine and its not enough.  I need more.

I have other things I'd like to see improved too many of which will be better in the Vista timeframe, but for now, I'm happy that I've got a form factor that works well for my needs.

My Secret is out - here are my thoughts

Tue, 25 Jul 2006 12:24:00 PDT

Mauricio "leaked" my secret a few days ago - I got an Eo.

So far I love it!

When I cancelled my initial Eo order I had a think about what I wanted to do with it and came up with two primarly scenarios.

Firstly, I've taken to taking lots of notes when I go to meetings, and as wonderful as paper is, I really love OneNote - so much so that it's my favourite Microsoft Application.  Here's why (in a nutshell):
  • Handwrite your notes on a Tablet PC or type them on any PC
  • You can search your handwritten notes
  • You can convert you handwriting to text
  • You can take screen captures without having to load new software
  • You can record audio while taking notes and then playback the audio from the point where you took any particular note (very cool).
  • You can store pretty much anything in it
  • Its file based and works well with Foldershare

So - the Eo for taking notes is great.  My only complaint in this area is that the battery doesn't last all day, and in a device with this form factor I would use it all day if I could.  I do get 2.5 hours out of it under normal use (with the screen backlight turned down a bit), and the extended battery will help too, but going from a Pocket PC you just get used to long batteries - and the scenarios for a UMPC are different than a Laptop or Tablet due to their size.

The other key scenario for me is e-books.  I spend lots of time preparing to lead a Bible Study, and Logos on a UMPC is awesome.  Now I have over 300 books available with me wherever I go.  Very cool and a great time saver.

Also, I got a nice little geek bag for it which means it doesn't even look like I'm carrying a tech toy - which is great - and even drew comments from one of the managers in the Mobile and Embedded Division (nice swag...).

Securing your mobile enterprise with Credant

Mon, 29 May 2006 23:05:00 PDT

I've written a review of Credant Mobile Guardians Enterprise security product.  CMG offers a unified secure environment across Windows Mobile, Palm, Blackberry, Windows desktops and servers.
The article will be published in the August edition of Smartphone and PocketPC Magazine.  If you want to read it, either buy the mag or check out the online version published on Geekzone.

Why I cancelled my Eo order

Sat, 20 May 2006 08:30:00 PDT

I made a decision a week or two ago to cancel my order for an EO. Heres why...

1. Production delays. Part of the idea of being an early adopter is to be an early adopter - when this doesn't happen (and it didnt for me due to the engineering problems), the value is lost somewhat.
2. Power issues. The EO has been badly affected by extremely poor battery life. I can handle a 2.5 hour battery life, but 1.5 hour is just not good enough - particularly when you've been promised 3 hours.
3. Crazy disk partitioning schemes out of the box.  I dont want to have to rebuild my Eo the moment I get it because some idiot has decided that multiple partitions is what I want (I hate multiple partitions by the way).

Those are the two primary reason - and the fact that number 1 happened means that I could figure out number 2 and take precautions against getting hit by it - so its a mixed blessing really.

So - where to now? I'm currently contemplating what I'm going to do now. My current thinking is to get the slightly more expensive Samsung Q1. My thinking is

1. It actually delivers the battery life promised
2. External VGA output
3. Well known brand name with a reasonable reputation

The problems with this of course is that they are not available in New Zealand, so I'll have to get one delivered in the US and sent to me here.  This also means I'll have to get a NZ/Australian power adapter for it, which will take a little bit of research.

Anyway, I've got my money still, so I'm in the market :-).  In the mean time I'll have to make do with the M400.


Thu, 11 May 2006 15:00:00 PDT

I've got a nice new shiny Toshiba M400...

It arrived about a week ago, but I've only just had a chance to play with it in the last day or so.  I started by installing Windows Vista on it - a late internal build.  Very nice.  Quite quick too.

I've got Aero going, although the WDDM drivers are pre-alpha, so they are far from perfect.

Most things are working - WiFi is, which is great.  Got to install 2007 Office System next - not going with 2003 at all (although I have OneNote installed at the moment). 

Its not a UMPC, but its here and the battery lasts well (image)

UMPC's are still coming in...

Thu, 11 May 2006 00:28:00 PDT

I'm still waiting... sigh...

The EO is plagued with a nasty battery consumption problem which is not good.  Chippy has some good detailed findings here.  Here's hoping VIA get a fix going for it quickly.

The Q1 has started arriving and people are reporting good things about it.

Hmmm... I might be going to the US in July.... maybe I should pull my order and wait...

My Mobile Applications

Wed, 03 May 2006 20:44:00 PDT

I've written a couple of applications for Windows Mobile Pocket PC and it seems they are actually useful to the odd person or two.

Unfortunately the site where I host them is a little bit "broken" at the moment and I haven't had time to fix it.  Thus - if you are looking for the download links and cant find them - thats why.

So - for your convenience (should you be looking for said applications) you'll find them here:

Obviously the next question is - what do they do?

Voice Enable allows you to change the default behaviour of the voice button on the iMate K-Jam and Jasjar to support Microsoft Voice Command instead of the built in Voice Tagging application.  IMPORTANT: No support or warranties are given - so dont ask (image)

Topical Bible is an application for recording notes in a heirarcical and topical manner.  I wrote this because ts often useful to record thoughts this way when you are thinking through a biblical subject.


If only I had my UMPC

Sun, 30 Apr 2006 10:49:00 PDT

I had a wee incident in my car on Sunday(image) , so I'm taking the train this week.  Ideal time to work on a UMPC, but dag nab it, I just dont have it yet.

I'm told that I might have some news tomorrow (thanks Hugo), so maybe next week (assuming I'm still in the train) I'll be able to spend some time with it...

Here's hoping (image)