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Preview: Mauricio Freitas: My window to the world

Mauricio Freitas: My window to the world



My window to the world



 



Microsoft Ignite New Zealand, Microsoft Surface Studio

Sat, 29 Oct 2016 09:25:00 PDT

Earlier this week I had the chance to attend this year's Microsoft Ignite New Zealand. This was the ninth year I attended the event, previously known as Microsoft TechEd.

Many, many things changed over the years and while Microsoft Ignite is still a technology event at heart, things changed, just the same as Microsoft did over the years.

If you were one of the couple of thousands of attendees you had the chance to learn not only from technical sessions but also from personal development sessions, ones created to let people progress in their careers not only by their geeky prowess but by being better at how these are used in the context of relating to yourself, other people in your job and your life.

If you attended the keynote session you'd have heard from local Microsoft people and international guests who showed how to use technology to "empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more."

The message was powerful and easy to understand: technology for technology sake was hot. Today's technology is used to make lives better. From using Internet of Things and Big Data to make better, intelligent wheelchairs to solving global water challenges with cloud technology.

I had the chance to talk to Microsoft experts from different areas, from Donna Sarkar (MIcrosoft Windows 10 and Windows Insider) to Donovan Brown (on how Microsoft is making DevOps an integral part of its stack) and all of these had the passion make this mission come to life.

During the same week Microsoft announced its new Surface device. A long term project, which goes back to the first Surface concept (remember the Surface table?) this all-in-one computer integrates design and functionality, plus extra accessories that can help developers create new interfaces and experiences, making it a dream - one that will be here in early 2017.

Watch the video below and tell me it's not a work of art?

src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BzMLA8YIgG0" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0">(image)




If the headlines indicate the quality of news in New Zealand…

Sun, 10 Apr 2016 12:39:00 PDT

When you see these headlines on Stuff you know they’ve reached peak low-quality (peak/low?). It almost looks like their daily meetings go like “Hey we don’t have stories for today, is that ok if I post a video plucked from YouTube with a ‘[something] goes viral’ in the headline?”

  • The true story behind the love video that went viral
  • Dancing cop video goes viral
  • Video of selfie-obsessed girl goes viral
  • Highway wee video goes viral
  • Video of Thai leader 'petting' reporter goes viral
  • Patrick Gower's 'thug life' goes viral
  • Samsung's 'see through' truck goes viral
  • One-guitar quintet goes viral
  • Taupo policeman's dance duel goes viral
  • Woman's 'leggings ain't pants' video goes viral
  • Madcap machine work goes viral
  • Hip-hop artist's video goes viral
  • Teen's virtual duet with Jessie J goes viral
  • Boy's cardboard arcade goes viral
  • Amazing Games defensive display goes viral
  • Gone viral: Bouquet toss fail
  • Fear of flying? Don't watch this video
  • Dog bites shark and goes viral
  • Saudi 'no woman, no drive' parody goes viral
  • Work-from-home mum's take on YouTube viral
  • Pregnancy prank goes viral
  • New Hampshire rap goes viral
  • Maloney's son's grand final trip goes viral
  • Helmet-cam cycle incident goes viral
  • Flashmob dance proposal goes viral
  • 'Life-affirming' electric wheelchair invented in Otaki goes viral
  • Gay teen's abuse video goes viral

Yes, these are real headlines. From a major newspaper.

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Geekzone data analytics with Power BI

Sat, 02 Apr 2016 04:49:00 PDT

In the past I have looked at Geekzone data to find trends, influentials and other information. This data was used to support decisions such as “should we create a new forum for this subject” or “should we close this sub-forum?” and so on. We also used it for marketing, answering questions such as “Where are the discussions around [insert subject here] and who are the participants”.

Lately I have been using a lot of Microsoft Power BI at Intergen. It is a great tool to create dashboards that tell a story, or for people to find and work on trends that data reveal. So I decided to use Power BI on Geekzone as well and make some of this information public.

Basically I created a Geekzone Power BI dashboard which visitors can use to check some of the data we have – answering questions such as “What sub-forums have the most discussions?” or “How many participants reply on an average discussion in the [insert sub-forum here]”. It is even fun to see how big jumps caused sub-forum to come up – for example looking at when Freeview was launched in New Zealand or the months when a new iPhone or Samsung device came out  you can clear see a trend growing on each related sub-forum.

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Around 2013 we created a +1 feature on Geekzone. This allows people to support a reply by giving an “approval” without having to post “I like this”. The user who posted the replies can see who voted for his post. But when you look at the data you start seeing different things. For example you can see who gets more votes in different sub-forums and where their interests lie.

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Every year, around March, I post a Geekzone State of the Browser based on Google Analytics data. Last night I decide to add this data to Power BI. This means that instead of having an annual report based on the last 30 days of data anyone can have a look at reports updated to the previous day, with data covering any period from a month to all the data we ever had – just clicking on filters. This data covers the entire period we have Google Analytics on Geekzone – since December 2005.

You can clearly see when smartphones as we know now came to the market – the small presence of this technology appearing for the first time in 2010. You can also see the decline of Internet Explorer and the rise of Google Chrome.

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I have been fine tuning these charts as we go – and there’s more to come.

Data is updated twice daily so you know it is always the freshest dataset around. Go have a play: Geekzone Power BI dashboard.

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State of browsers Geekzone March 2016

Fri, 01 Apr 2016 13:09:00 PDT

It is time for the annual report on browser usage around Geekzone. At the bottom of this post you will find links to previous years so you can compare these numbers with previous years.

These charts are based on Google Analytics data collected during the 31 day period ending 31th March 2016. I realise part of our audience is more technically inclined, so our numbers are different from those presented by other more mainstream websites (such as Trade Me and news sites) but we have a huge number of non-tech visitors landing in our pages from search results seeking solutions for their problems.

This data is for desktop visitors only.

Overall Google Chrome continues to grow, going from 53% one year ago to 57% now. Both Internet Explorer and Firefox had a small decline in numbers, with the difference mainly going to the new Microsoft Edge browser.

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New Zealand numbers are again very close to the worldwide numbers:

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Here is the split for New Zealand users between business and after hours. This year Safari is taking the lead over Internet Explorer usage at home, with the difference again going to the new Microsoft Edge browser:

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Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9 are now on the way out and at last Internet Explorer 6 disappears from our stats:

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In terms of operating systems it pretty much remains unchanged from last year.

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And at last Windows Vista disappears from the Microsoft Windows chart:

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Previous posts for comparison:

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2Cheap Cars discussion

Fri, 11 Mar 2016 00:42:00 PST

I have posted a longer version of our 2Cheap Cars problems and troubles saga on Geekzone – we have a sub-forum for cars, bikes and other vehicles there.

Enough to say we aren’t happy with 2Cheap Cars.

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Now with more fibre

Sat, 30 Jan 2016 01:34:00 PST

My previous entries in this blog have been about how bad Vodafone's HFC (commonly know as "cable") have turned and how slow things are moving towards a resolution. This is something that started happening since the company introduced "unlimited" plans back in late 2014. Customers have had almost constant periods where Internet speeds were anywhere from 10% to 50% of the offered plans - on a service that was known for reliably and consistently deliver 100% all the time.

This is not solved yet as we still see reports of work in progress, new node replacements and customers still seeing the dip in speeds in the evenings.

I joined cable when it was still called Chello, provided by Saturn (before being TelstraSaturn, TelstraClear and then finally, Vodafone). Below is the welcome pack given to customers joining the cable TV and broadband services:

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When we bought a house one of the main points in the checklist was the possibility to connect to the cable network. This was when broadband wasn't a thing, when people in ADSL areas couldn't get more than 10Mbps, etc. It was a good run, more than 16 years but enough is enough.

I have been waiting patiently for fibre to arrive in our area. I said many times in the Geekzone discussion on this topic that if fibre was available here before Vodafone fixed their HFC woes, then I'd saw. When Chorus started work in our area I was worried about install costs, time, etc.

Well, last week we got a card in the mailbox. Fibre is here, and available now. So I had to go ahead and swap. 2degrees broadband got our business. Install was initially set to a couple of weeks later but I got a call from our new provider saying Chorus had a team working weekends and if I minded them doing the job this Saturday. By all means, go ahead!

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The install was easy. We are lucky that we didn't need consent from neighbours and lucky our connection was an aerial drop instead of an underground cable. The two technicians had the whole thing installed and tested in about 90 minutes. I swapped our router to the ONT, reconfigured to PPoE using the 2degrees credentials and instant results.

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Now we are another household part of the "Number of fibre-connected kiwis" statistics. And one less Vodafone HFC customer.

PS. By the way, I found the Saturn Welcome Pack emptying a cabinet drawer while waiting for the Chorus technicians to finish their install. What an interesting twist.(image)




Unlimited is not unlimited: Vodafone cable going gigabit

Mon, 09 Nov 2015 05:58:00 PST

Microsoft has backed out of “unlimited” storage for OneDrive. American ISPs are more and more placing limits on plans available to consumers. Locally we had the debacle of Vodafone cable hitting extremely poor performance – most notably since the “unlimited” plan was released to their customers earlier this year (see my previous post “How bad is Vodafone cable at the moment?”)

It’s a surprise to me then that our media is making it known that Vodafone is planning to invest $22 million in bringing up to gigabit speeds for their cable network without asking the obvious question: if their network can’t cope with customers consuming 100 Mbps now, how can we be sure the 1Gbps service will be “usable”?

There is a reason why Wired published an article today saying "there's no such thing as unlimited data".

Things to think about (and I am not sure it’s in that $22 million plan): capacity planning, actual bandwidth availability, resource management, setting high expectations.

Yes, I’m a pessimist. Or a realist.

UPDATE: Vodafone cable is failing tonight, no DNS resolution and proxy problems.

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How bad is Vodafone cable at the moment?

Mon, 21 Sep 2015 11:39:00 PDT

For the last few months (at least since a discussion on Geekzone was created around April 2015, but a couple of months before that) Vodafone customers on cable (the old TelstraClear network) have been trying really hard to keep calm.

At some point, after a few complaints Vodafone decided to put some work into the network and sent out a letter to customers promising things would be better by end of September.

Once the fastest thing around, with speeds of up to 130 Mbps before fibre was even a dream around the country, the Vodafone cable network (in Wellington, Kapiti and Christchurch) started showing signs of ageing. Things started going downhill with the launch of unlimited plans around end of 2014. People moved to unlimited plans with 100 and 130 Mbps options and soon things were really bad, from 7pm through midnight.

And that was even before Netflix opened its doors in New Zealand and the other ISPs started seeing similar performance problems. But it seems most ISPs were not affected or recovered quickly.

Here is one of my speedtest results:

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This is on a 130 Mbps connection, over a wired connection, with a gigabit capable router, to Vodafone's own servers. This service would usually show 130 Mbps at any time of the day but now most of the time someone is at home (in the evenings), when we really want to use the service… it's unusable.

This is the performance for New Zealand ISPs according to the Truenet report August 2015. See the red line? That's the drop in speed for Vodafone cable, averaged during the month:

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And the advertised speed vs actual:

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The letter sent to customers back in May say work is being done and completion is expected by September. I understand this work involves changes in the core network infrastructure, changes to hardware in nodes, enable more channels, software updates.

Vodafone staff are doing a great job of updating the Geekzone discussion as works progresses, as well as keeping an update of work being done in their own Vodafone community site. I really hope this is not going to disappoint us. Fibre is just in front of our driveway now:

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Frustrated with Microsoft Family accounts (parental controls)

Fri, 18 Sep 2015 10:08:00 PDT

Up until recently it was pretty easy to use Microsoft Family Safety to manage your child's time and access on a Windows PC. Install the software, create a local account, manage the account online.

Things changed a bit with Windows 10 and I am now trying to get around configuring our daughter's access to our laptops at home but so far hitting a roadblock around Microsoft accounts.

There are many reasons why I want to do this. First is to make sure we have a set policy around screen time, and this is enforced. Second we want to monitor activities, websites, etc. And obviously filter out whatever is not desirable. I also wanted to be able to monitor her Microsoft Store account to make sure she is not installing anything she shouldn't and perhaps block in-app purchases (in case I put some money on her account to buy a game or two).

I tried adding "family" members through the Windows Settings, a feature that requires everyone in the family to have a Microsoft account (no surprise here) but the email invites never arrived and the accounts still show as "Pending".

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Never mind, let's try this through the "Family " tab in the Microsoft Account website. I invited my daughter (who interestingly is listed as adult on her own account, despite the date of birth clearly showing she is not yet an adult). The email arrived but when I clicked the link it says she's already member of my family. I log into my own account and she's not listed. I tried the other way around - sending an "Adult" invite from her account to mine, and again the link doesn't work.

At the moment I am using Norton Family for Parental Control, which works well to monitor, block and filter activities (and on Android too) but I still want control on the Microsoft account itself.

Frustrating.

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State of browsers Geekzone March 2015

Tue, 31 Mar 2015 12:53:00 PDT

It is time for the annual report on browser usage around Geekzone. At the bottom of this post you will find links to previous years so you can compare these numbers with previous years.

These charts are based on Google Analytics data collected during the 31 day period ending 31th March 2015. I realise part of our audience is more technically inclined, so our numbers are different from those presented by other more mainstream websites (such as Trade Me and news sites) but we have a huge number of non-tech visitors landing in our pages from search results seeking solutions for their problems.

Also this is for desktop visits only, which is 85% of the total recorded in our desktop website (we have a mobile version usable on smaller screens such as smartphones). I intended to post another entry with tablet/smartphone numbers.

Overall since last year we’ve seen a good increase on Chrome usage (53% up from 45%), Firefox remaining almost the same (23% compared to previous 22%) and another small drop on Internet Explorer usage (15% down from 18%).

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New Zealand numbers again show a good jump up for Chrome, with Internet Explorer shedding some users:

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And here is the split between New Zealand business and after hours. Note how people tend to use less Internet Explorer at home, and Safari usage increases:

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This year Internet Explorer 6 and 7 almost disappeared from the scene (IE 6 has under 0.5% usage now):

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Here is the OS distribution:

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And Windows versions:

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Previous posts for comparison:

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You are still a pirate according to Stuff

Tue, 31 Mar 2015 11:45:00 PDT

A story on Stuff (“Netflix wants to make content the same worldwide”) says:

“CEO Reed Hastings told Gizmodo Australia the online media streaming service wants to stop subscribers pirating content because it is unavailable in their country” and later on the same article “However, he said VPN piracy played only a small part in piracy worldwide.”

Following a common trend in New Zealand press, using a VPN to circumvent geo-blocking is called “piracy”.

Note however these are not straight quotes, but second hand “reporting”, because the source article on Gizmodo actually quotes from Mr Reed Hastings:

“The VPN thing is a small little asterisk compared to piracy… Piracy is really the problem around the world. The VPN scenario is someone who wants to pay and can’t quite pay. The basic solution is for Netflix to get global and have its content be the same all around the world so there’s no incentive to [use a VPN]. Then we can work on the more important part which is piracy."

You see, the original article makes a distinction between a problem (content piracy) and someone who doesn’t want to be a part of the problem but has to use technology to unlock and PAY for the content to legal distributors (the VPN users). The alternative is true piracy – downloading content for free from illegal distribution on torrents. Obviously whoever wrote the article for Stuff (there is no byline) didn’t bother making the distinction.

I’d like to know how these writers on Stuff see buying books or DVDs on Amazon and having these items shipped to New Zealand? Perhaps they don’t quite see that as “piracy” even though these actions are actually just the real world equivalent of buying digital content in different markets from legal distributors?

What do you think?

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2015 New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards

Wed, 11 Feb 2015 06:58:00 PST

Received the email confirming that I am, once again, a judge in the New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards, a traditional technology award sponsored by the likes of Callaghan Innovation, Cisco, Duncan Cotterill, Emulex Endace, Fronde, PWC, IBM, NZ Trade & Enterprise and others.

This year's gala dinner awards ceremony is in Wellington, so I am pretty excited about this coming back to our city.

Looking forward to finding out more about the entries in the [secret] category I am judging with other three New Zealanders and an overseas judge.

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Trackers - How technology is helping us monitor and improve our health

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 09:30:00 PST

I just came home and found a print copy of "Trackers - How technology is helping us monitor and improve our health", a book by Richard MacManus (Wellington-based technologist, founder of ReadWriteWeb and later an author since he sold the blog).

The book will be available 1st January 2015, $29.99... Already available as a Kindle eBook (Trackers - How technology is helping us monitor and improve our health eBook).

Quote:

Self-tracking is the practice of measuring and monitoring your health, activities or diet through technologies such as smartphone apps, wearables and personal genomics, empowering you to take control of your day to day health. Richard MacManus explains the benefits and risks of self-tracking and looks at:

  • What exactly is being tracked
  • The tools and techniques being used
  • The best practices of early adopters
  • How self-tracking is revolutionizing the health and wellness industries
  • How the medical establishment is adapting to these new trends

 

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Geekzone is a ESET NetGuide Web Awards 2014 winner

Mon, 01 Dec 2014 10:19:00 PST

Thank you folks! For the second year in a row Geekzone was a winner at the ESET NetGuide Web Awards 2014.

Unfortunately I couldn’t be in Auckland this year, but Nate represented us at the ceremony at the Hilton Hotel.

Once again, thank you for your support and to the entire Geekzone community!

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Windows Phone and Android apps screen comparison

Fri, 17 Oct 2014 09:57:00 PDT

There’s a long discussion on Geekzone on why won’t you try Windows Phone. Interestingly a lot is talked about the apps (or lack of them). Also there’s a lot of talk about the user interface on these apps. Some people don’t like the way Windows Phone apps look, but I’ve found that most of the apps actually look the same as in other platforms – the main difference is really on the “home screen”. I’d say that most of the people will find the apps they use are available in all mobile platforms. Few people will find that the app they want is not available on Windows Phone. For example, I have come to really like Authy, simply because I try to use two factor authentication wherever I can and really dislike the idea of having to recreate all those tokens every time I changed devices. Authy makes those tokens portable so you can simply swap a device, load the app and re-authenticate to load everything. It is probably the only app keeping me away from Windows Phone today (after using a Windows mobile platform since its beginning back in the early 2000). Based on that Geekzone discussion I decided to go around taking screenshots in apps I can find in both Android and Windows Phone and see if they are that different – I don’t think so. Below you will find a series of apps on Android (left) and Windows Phone (right) to compare their interfaces: Swarm     PayPal   OneDrive       Twitter     OneNote         Facebook   Amazon   Fitbit   LinkedIn     Instagram     Pulseway   Home  [...]



Minister for Economic Development...

Sun, 05 Oct 2014 03:27:00 PDT

Just looking through the new MInisterial List announced 6th October and I see Hon Steven Joyce is Minister for Economic Development, which according to a footnote “portfolio includes responsibility for ICT”, and in the next page we find that Hon Amy Adams is Minister for Communications.

It looks like the New Zealand goverment doesn’t know its TLAs. What part of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) are they duplicating?

Also, Hon Steven Joyce is Minister Responsible for Novopay. Only in New Zealand there is need for a minister to manage software projects gone bad.(image)



Your NAS and the Bash vulnerability

Fri, 26 Sep 2014 03:30:00 PDT

If you have a home theatre, or run a small business you likely have a Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices around. Or even if you just have a huge collection of photos and share the storage with other computers at home.

Over time these devices evolved from simple storage that you could access through your network to full computers, running web services, streaming, databases, even virtual machines (just check the TS-451 I had here for a while).

Obviously being a full computer we have to treat these endpoints as potential weak links – and the recently disclosed GNU Bash vulnerability is affecting at least one NAS vendor, according to an email just received. I would believe other vendors are also impacted but I have not seen any documentation yet.

If you have a NAS at home (or run any UNIX-like operating systems including Linux, BSD, and Mac OS X) then you should really look for a patch/update for your system and get this fixed.

Here’s the email QNAP sent to their customers:

QNAP Systems, Inc. has been looking into the recent concerns over potential Bash code injection (CVE-2014-6271) that can lead to security vulnerabilities on the Turbo NAS and other Unix/Linux-based systems. A partial solution for CVE-2014-6271 exists but may result in another security vulnerability (CVE-2014-7169). QNAP is actively working on a solution for this issue, but in the meantime encourages all Turbo NAS users to take the following immediate actions to avoid any possible exploitation of their system.

As a temporary measure until a solution is released for this issue, please ensure that the following services of the Turbo NAS are disconnected from the Internet:

  • Web administration
  • Web server
  • WebDAV
  • Photo Station, Music Station, File Station, and any other NAS app that uses a web-based interface
Normally the local network is not accessible from the Internet easily, users can still use their Turbo NAS safely. If users still worry about the security of their local network, they can follow the steps to disable the QTS web UI completely, and only turn it on when necessary:
  • Login to QTS and disable the Web Server in Applications
  • Login to QTS and disable the secure connection (SSL) in General Settings
  • Disable NAS web administration using a SSH utility (such as putty): 
    • Connect to the Turbo NAS with admin username and password
    • Type the following command and hit the "Enter" key: /etc/init.d/thttpd.sh stop
Note: The NAS web administration will become unavailable after taking the above steps. To restore it:
  • Restart the Turbo NAS, or
  • Manually start the web administration via SSH by typing the following command: /etc/init.d/thttpd.sh start

QNAP will keep users updated with the latest information as addressing this issue. If users would like further assistance, please contact QNAP Technical Support at http://helpdesk.qnap.com.

UPDATE: Here’s Synology’s page on affected NAS models.

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Going to Microsoft TechEd New Zealand 2014–who else is joining me?

Sun, 17 Aug 2014 03:45:00 PDT

I got the confirmation I will be attending the TechEd as a Microsoft guest (same as in previous years) with other media presence.

In the meantime, I have just finished working on something with Intergen for their stand - you folks probably remember in previous years there were racing cars and the stand was quite popular.

This year, working with Microsoft Xbox and Activision there will be Guitar Hero competition - prizes include daily JB Hi-Fi voucher and a Xbox One with Kinect at the end of the competition. More information here: Intergen Guitar Hero Geek competition at TechEd.

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State of Browsers Geekzone March 2014

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 01:41:00 PDT

It is time for the annual report on browser usage around Geekzone. At the bottom of this post you will find links to previous years so you can compare all the numbers.

These charts are based on Google Analytics data collected during the 30 day period ending 12th March 2014. I realise part of our audience is more technically inclined, so our numbers are different from those presented by other more mainstream websites (such as Trade Me and news sites) but we have a huge number of non-tech visitors landing in our pages from search results seeking solutions for their problems.

Overall since last year we’ve seen a small increase on Chrome usage (45% up from 40%), very small decline for Firefox (22% down from 24%) and a drop on Internet Explorer usage (18% down from 23%).

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New Zealand numbers show a good jump up for Chrome, with both Firefox and Internet Explorer sharing the same space (and loss of audience):

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It seems businesses are slowly moving away from Internet Explorer, with Chrome now showing 46% adoption, up from 39% last year. Firefox remains pretty much unchanged with most of the loss in the Internet Explorer side:

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After hours we see a dip for Firefox with 19% of people using it this year down from 21%. Internet Explorer shows a dip from 19% to 16%, with Chrome again being the winner in share and increase (47% up from 41%). Safari remains with same numbers as last year.

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How is Internet Explorer doing? Despite being a “newcomer” Internet Explorer 11 is coming strong at 44% usage from non-existent last year. Internet Explorer 8 comes second (24% down from 30%), Internet Explorer 9 is down to 17% from 50%, Internet Explorer 10 remains pretty much unchanged and Internet Explorer 7 just shows up (2% down from 7%). All other versions practically disappeared with below 1% usage.

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And here is an OS distribution in New Zealand. It pretty much remains unchanged except that Android got up to 5% from 3%, while Linux dropped from 4% to almost nil (now in the “Other” category):

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And below the Windows distribution:

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Previous posts for comparison:

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Free speech

Fri, 18 Apr 2014 04:05:00 PDT

Many times we at Geekzone (myself or moderators) have to take swift action and ban someone from our forums (here is a visual collection of some banhameers used in the process). We have a strict Forum Usage Guideline (FUG) that serve as a guide to everyone in the community. Obviously banned users try to come back in, so we have mechanisms to deal with that.

Quite a few times I get emails with “you are infringing my free speech rights” or “you are being paid to censor me” and so on. As a policy I never reply to these emails and we all know those “free speech” rights are public ones. These rights protect people from being persecuted by the state for their thoughts and words.

Today’s XKCD “Free speech” explain it pretty well (although using the 1st Amendment it applies to other jurisdictions too):

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Testing the Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ G3

Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:50:00 PDT

Just received this Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ G3 to play with. It's a USB3 device, the primary partition shows up as a CD, you run the software (which doesn't need install) and it will create an encrypted partition (or give you access to it):

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I ran some speed tests with NirSoft USB Flash Drive Speed Test and here is the result:

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For comparison, here is a C300 SSD in a USB3 external case:

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Now, this is a Sony memory key, purportedly USB3 as well. Can you see the difference?

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And below are a couple of USB2 devices (HP-branded and generic one). See how the write speed on the Sony USB3 is no better than USB2?

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Telecom enforces SSL email, uses wrong name in certificate

Sun, 16 Mar 2014 11:12:00 PDT

There’s no end in sight for Telecom email users. While the company’s move to require the use of SSL for email access (Really, all those email passwords were transmitted in the clear over those WiFi access points around the world up until now?) is a Good Move™, the fact they got the SSL certificate with the wrong server name is troubling.

Apparently this certificate was issued to pop3r.xtra.co.nz instead of pop3.xtra.co.nz. People are accepting this certificate just so they can get to their emails. This is bad because I’ve seen comments such as “just accept it I need to get to my emails”.

Not everyone is seeing this error, which points to multiple servers having a good certificate and at least one of them having a bad certificate.

What happens next time these users see a certificate error? They will repeat the “just accept it” routine, thinking it’s just another small problem? Do these people actually know the implication of accepting SSL certs left, right and centre? Probably not. And here is the problem.

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Windows XP end of support: 8 April 2014

Sat, 08 Mar 2014 11:40:00 PST

This 8th April 2014 marks the end of support for Windows XP. Hit the link to find out what it means for you. Windows XP was released mid-2001. It was a different world then. Things changed a lot in terms of security, safety and privacy online over these 13 years and the OS needs updating to front the new, more evolved risks as well as the avalanche of data we now receive. I was surprised someone on Twitter posted “This Windows XP update exists solely to tell you that it is Windows XP and Microsoft wants you to pay more money to upgrade.” Interesting way of putting it. Apple launched OS X 10.0 around the same time of Windows XP and they have been launching new versions of OS X over the years, and every few versions software need to be updated or it won’t run properly. But I never read anyone saying “they’re doing it to get people to pay more”. A big difference here is that software that run on Windows XP will most likely continue to run on Windows 7 and Windows 8, with few exceptions including drivers (if you have devices that old they are probably reaching the end of their lives anyway). For users of Microsoft’s platform this is good and bad. It’s good because reduces the cost of going to newer OS versions. It’s bad because (some argue) newer OS versions need to keep supporting these older software and APIs, keeping the OS rather large and the maintenance costs (in both time and number of developers) adding over time. It’s also bad because adding security safeguards to old OS versions is not always possible, due to limits in the original implementation. For consumers who still haven’t received the message about security, safety and privacy Windows XP still seems a pretty good OS. Most of the current software still run on this old OS, it doesn’t need big hardware and it’s pretty easy to use. The end result? From January 2014 – March 2014 around 29% of Internet-connected computers were still running Windows XP (down from 39% the year before). This shift is not moving fast enough. The next Windows Update for Windows XP will add a message that will be presented to users to let them know this OS is no longer supported. Still, many people using pirated copies of Windows don’t get updates anyway (security or otherwise) and most likely don’t care. And I guess most will just click the box “Don’t show this message again” and be done with it. Microsoft has extended support for its anti-malware software until July 2015. For  enterprise customers, this applies to System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection and Windows Intune running on Windows XP. For consumers, this applies to Microsoft Security Essentials. Also note this end of support doesn’t apply only to Windows XP but Windows Server 2003 as well. Someone commented that the malware developers need only reverse engineer the first few security updates released for Windows 7/8 but not for Windows XP to create new tools to attack and control those unprotected machines. Let’s see what happens in June 2014.[...]



Take a bit of time to cleanup your Twitter authorisations

Fri, 07 Mar 2014 01:22:00 PST

Yahoo! has acquired Vizify… And it proceed to do what it’s done with 30 startups it previously bought: close the service down. According to people following the tech industry this means the company has closed 31 out of 38 startups it acquired since Marissa Mayer took the helm. But this doesn’t happen on Yahoo! only. All other large tech companies acquire technology to incorporate into their own products and differentiate themselves in the market. If this works out well for consumers or not is another story.

But that’s not what I am thinking about here. I am thinking about your online security. Every now and then I take ten minutes to go through the Twitter authorised apps list and remove some of them:

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I also do this on Facebook and LinkedIn. My reasoning? Who knows what is going to happen with those tokens granting account access that are stored in these databases? How do I know the new owners can be trusted?

Sure, you’d say “It’s Yahoo!, they won’t go around spamming your followers from your account”.

My original “contract” was not with the new owners and I have no idea of their plans. The best thing, the safe thing, to do when a service is acquired is to revoke those tokens. Go through your Twitter Apps list (Twitter | Settings | Apps) and look through it. See the number of apps you gave permission to access your information, impersonate yourself to post in your stream, read your friends/followers lists, etc?

Some of those you only used once. Some of those you don’t even remember what they are.

Go on, clean up the mess and you will be safer.

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Geekzone is a ESET NetGuide Web Awards 2013 winner

Fri, 21 Feb 2014 05:03:00 PST

I visited Auckland this week to attend the ESET NetGuide Web Awards 2013 event, having been told Geekzone was a finalist in the Best Online Forum category.

Getting to Auckland was easier said than done, with the Wellington airport being closed due to a fog that came down and lasted for more than 12 hours, resulting in almost all morning flights being cancelled. Even so I managed to take off only two hours later than originally planned.

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Netguide’s Sean Mitchell said there was a record number of votes this year (290,000 for all categories in the whole competition if I’m correct), so it is great to be able to receive this award. It is really our great community that make it happen and keep it pumping, with help from our team of volunteer moderators. So it’s really for all of us, not just me. Well done folks.

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The event was fully packed at the Hilton Hotel where people in attendance had the opportunity to mingle before the doors opened to the conference room. After the event I had dinner with the ESET NZ team, including Steve Smith who had earlier taken this photo:

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