Tue, 27 Sep 2016 21:59:00 PDTOrcon consumer general manager Taryn Hamilton says his company will be first off the block when gigabit fibre services go live around New Zealand on October 1. Hamilton says Orcon will be aggressive going after the market. It is selling an unlimited, naked gigabit plan for $135 in Northpower, Enable and UFF local fibre company [...](image)
Tue, 27 Sep 2016 14:07:00 PDTStick the words computer-, net-, web-, online- or digital- directly in front of other words and you won’t scare the population half to death: Computer-gaming Net-gaming Web-gaming Online-gaming Digital-gaming. This is also true when whatever being discussed has negative, or less than positive implications. You know these things aren’t necessarily good, but they’re not going […](image)
Mon, 26 Sep 2016 22:24:00 PDTSixty-nine chief executives responded to an open-ended question as to what they would like to see on the Labour Shadow Finance Minister’s policy agenda. “Continue to constrain public expenditure to core and effective services,” advised Unitec CRO Rick Ede. “Reset taxation and investment incentives to favour productive investment instead of property investment. “Continue the investment […](image)
Mon, 26 Sep 2016 19:11:00 PDTThis year's New Zealand Herald Mood of the Boardroom survey shows technology dominates business leaders' thinking. When asked “what factors will have the most impact on business over the next five years, two-thirds of bosses nominated technological advances. Nothing else came even close. You can interpret the question as good or bad depending on whether […](image)
Mon, 26 Sep 2016 01:58:00 PDTSkype for Business, Microsoft's meetings and voice communications offering delivered in Office 365 will be paired with Telstra provided managed voice services and network assessments to deliver a comprehensive productivity and collaboration solution.(image)
Sun, 25 Sep 2016 20:43:00 PDTSpark says the Tasman Global Access cable will be ready for service by the end of January 2017. The 2,300km cable linking New Zealand and Australia is a joint project between Spark NZ and Vodafone with a minority investment from Telstra. When complete, the TGA will add capacity to the Southern Cross Cable Network which […](image)
Sun, 25 Sep 2016 15:11:00 PDTSpark’s wholesale voice services are set to be deregulated as the Commerce Commission tidies up outdated telecommunications rules. Wholesale voice provides, in effect, what older people would recognise as traditional telephone calls on digital lines. Regulation is no longer necessary now that broadband networks cover 97 percent of landlines and offer easy competitive alternatives to Spark’s […](image)
Sat, 24 Sep 2016 16:50:00 PDTFor years publishers, broadcasters and anyone else in the media business have wondered if Facebook could be their salvation. The old publishing business model has crumbled. Building mass audiences with entertainment or information then selling advertising no longer delivers rivers of gold. Some saw Facebook as an answer. Perhaps not the answer, the question is […](image)
Sat, 24 Sep 2016 16:47:00 PDTThe "Max Berek Innovation Lab" will conduct R&D in the fields of new optical systems, computational imaging, virtual reality and augmented reality.(image)
Sat, 24 Sep 2016 16:44:00 PDTAt OpenWorld 2016 Oracle unveiled new products, solutions and partnership opportunities to help its customers transition to the cloud in faster, simpler and more cost effective ways.(image)
Sat, 24 Sep 2016 16:38:00 PDTParrot has announced the launch of the Parrot Disco, an easy-to-fly fixed-wing drone that provides a fully immersive flight experience.
Sat, 24 Sep 2016 16:33:00 PDTThe partnership will see Dicker Data New Zealand become responsible for the distribution of the entire portfolio of SonicWALL solutions.(image)
Sat, 24 Sep 2016 16:30:00 PDTAustralian and New Zealand developers using Visa APIs to help create new payment solutions.(image)
Sat, 24 Sep 2016 16:25:00 PDTCanon New Zealand has announce winners of their Canon Environmental Grants Program, revealing three inspiring projects set to receive grants-in-kind to help achieve their sustainability goals.(image)
Wed, 21 Sep 2016 22:35:00 PDTAt least 5000 struggling families will get subsidised broadband from Spark New Zealand. The families will each get 30GB of data a month for $15 on a pre-paid, no fixed-term Spark Jump contract. The price also includes a modem. Spark will use Skinny Broadband. The company's no-frills subsidiary offers wireless broadband using the 4G mobile […](image)
Tue, 20 Sep 2016 00:29:00 PDTSmartphone batteries have been in the news recently, in case you haven't been keeping up. On this mornings Jetstar flight the attendant took extra care to call out that Galaxy Note7 users would have to keep their device off - personally if I had one of these mobiles I would be utterly livid. Just not acceptable in 2016. I've used iPhones in my line of work for the last few years as my primary device, and androids only as secondary units. The battery life on Apple phones is enough to drive you to despair at times, and as these things get bigger and pack more in, I can't the situation improving much. I'm not a fan of the bigger screen devices like the 6 and 7 - I think Apple hit the mark perfectly with the iPhone 5 screen size - but you have to use what is reasonably available, and for me that is an iPhone 6. Over the last year or so, the battery life on this device has become steadily more atrocious, but when I asked ServicePlus to have a look (Apple's agent in NZ), the diagnostics were that things were.... ok.... but perhaps remove the facebook app, which is a notorious hog. I did but that didn't really help..... and my experience continued to reflect that my battery must be munted. In the weekend I read an article in Forbes, and the author opined that users should skip the iPhone 7 and just replace the battery in their existing iPhones, waiting for 2018 when the iPhone 8 is released (2017 will bring the iPhone 7S). Forbes article The application Battery Life was mentioned... so I downloaded it and what an interesting app to use. Even though IOS9/10 locked out many of the statistics about the battery that could be read, some elements are still discoverable. Here's what says about my phone tonight: When new, the phone had a battery capacity of 1750Mah. All rechargeable batteries degrade over time, but what is interesting is where mine is at - maximum capacity is now 1100Mah, 37% less than as new. Of course, the iPhone battery meter tells me how much charge is remaining - OF THE DECREASED CAPACITY - meaning the more I use this phone, the faster it appears my battery is draining, when in fact it has degraded seriously to the point of being nearly unusable. I double checked these readings using a Mac app called CoconutBattery, and it's reports are consistent with the above display. The battery has lost a lot of capacity. So, tricky. Technically the iPhone battery reading is correct - 396/1100 = 36% charge. But without an app on the iPhone telling me "your battery is screwed bro", I am left wondering. I don't think it should have degraded this rapidly - I used my other devices which are older, and they havent got anywhere near this level of degradation, some of them are 6 years old and constantly being used. I don't know if it's better to be told I only have 396/1750, given I can never recharge the battery back up to 1750.... but it would have been nice to know. The device is 2 years old. Arguing over reasonable life of a battery under CGA feels quite the uphill battle. I do wish Apple did make better tools available that acknowledge the limits of technology and help better manage - although if they did, I expect they would a truckload coming back at the 12 month mark as 'not fit'. Battery Life. CoconutBattery. You wouldn't think batteries are that interesting.... but it's amazing what you can discover.[...]
Tue, 13 Sep 2016 05:07:00 PDTThere’s a competition on Geekzone to win this review unit. Click here to enter. Dashcams are not normally a product that I’d review, however when the opportunity came up to do some stunt driving, including a ridiculously tight parallel park, an attempt to jump the car over a ramp, then the actual jump (footage here from outside the car as another perspective), the inner boy-racer in me couldn’t resist. I think dashcams are going to become more standard in cars as the technology matures. If you’ve ever been involved in an accident, having the actual video footage to help with the police investigation and inevitable insurance claim is gold. Witness evidence can be debated and argued with; you can’t really dispute the facts when you have the video. The MiVUE680 is a small unit with a 2.7 inch screen on the back (not touch screen) and a wide angle lens capable of 2K full HD video (the MiVUE698 Dual Cam comes with a rear camera as well). Anyone who’s had a Navman GPS unit will already be familiar with the suction cup mount; the stiff design makes for a secure mount, and not for regular removal of the unit. It is small enough to mount up behind the rear view mirror, and is supplied with a very long cable for charging via the car’s 12V supply (aka cigarette lighter). Recordings are saved to a microSD card (not supplied). The most important thing is how do the recordings look? Below are samples from both day and night driving in Auckland. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/x2cBdaJDOdA" width="580" height="326" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uj1N7He-brg" width="580" height="326" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> As you drive, the dashcam is constantly recording. Each file lasts around 3 minutes and is 320MB – with the 8GB microSD card I was provided, that’s around an hour and 15 minutes worth of continuous recording time in total. Event recording is triggered when there’s a sudden impact, or you’re driving at high speed, make an aggressive turn or something else that triggers the G sensor. While the constant recording can be overwritten as you keep driving, the event recording is moved to it’s own separate folder on the SD card. You can also trigger this manually by pushing a button on the side. The dashcam has lots of other safety features other than video recording which include: Warns you when you are near a fixed speed camera Lane detection warnings Reminders to turn your headlights on if you haven’t Reminders to take regular breaks when driving for long periods of time Warning if you get too close to the car ahead Warning if the car in front of you has moved off and you are still stopped It’s a great little unit which you could easily install then forget about it. My two issues with it are minor: it should be touch screen, and I felt the buttons down the right hand side were too far away from the indications on the screen, making them hard to match up. My thanks again to Navman for hosting me and providing a unit for review.[...]
Wed, 22 Jun 2016 16:52:00 PDTThis is my review of the Panasonic DMR-HWT260. When I went to buy one, there weren't any reviews so I hope this might fill a gap if you're looking to buy one. Keep in mind when reading this that I've already bought one, and people who own something ... (more in the full post)(image)
Thu, 09 Jun 2016 16:27:00 PDTAnother year, another nice Huawei phone. Am I becoming a Huawei fanboy? Seems so. The P9, the successor to last year�s P8 which I reviewed, is a gorgeous phone. It�s a smidgen smaller (I had to look up the specs to just to confirm), and thankfully the power and volume buttons are still in the same place. Gone is the separate memory card/second SIM slot; this is now integrated into one, and is now on the top left of the phone. P8 on the left; P9 on the right. Headphone socket is now on the bottom (not a fan), taking over what was the second speaker grill. As a user of the Nexus 6P, it�s nice to see this phone inherit the USB Type-C charging/data port and the fingerprint reader located centrally on the rear of the phone. Once you get used to unlocking a phone with your fingerprint, everything else seems so antiquated. A lot of the online reviews really don�t like the Emotion UI (EMUI) that Huawei ships with their phones, but I�ve always liked it. It�s strict around allowing apps to run when the screen is off, and you can force close all apps with just a few taps. Android is not known for amazing battery life, however with these features, you can extend your time online greatly. You do need to allow a few apps, such as Google Maps, otherwise it resets everytime the screen switches off. The phone is responsive and quick, and common complaints about the low res screen (when compared to the other similar phones, such as the Samsung S7) weren�t an issue for me. I think it�s because I�m not after ultra high res on such a small screen (again, compared to my ginormous 6P). The biggest change in hardware is the camera, or cameras (which sit flush with the back of the phone). Huawei have partnered with Leica, and the phone features two 12 megapixel lenses. The camera app also has a myriad of different camera settings, which are well above the skillset of this simple user. For me, the best phones will take the best photos in low light, and man, does the P9 take some cracker low light photos: The last photo, for me, shows how good the camera is. On my street at home, at night, with no flash on. Very impressive. Another great offering from Huawei, and a nice upgrade from last year�s model.[...]
Sat, 28 May 2016 21:30:00 PDT
Home automation using a common platform such as the Philip�s Hue bulbs or the Wemo switchable plugs and bulbs is reasonably straight forawrd. I�ve got a mix of Limitless LED light bulbs and Wemo switches, which makes it more complicated, but can be achieved using some custom software.
My goal was simple. My outdoor light, main hallway light and kitchen light are all Limitless bulbs. The lights in my lounge and behind my main computer are on Wemo switches. I wanted a solution whereas all these lights would switch on based on sunset, and then switch off again at a specific time. The reason for the switch off, is if I�m away on holiday, the lights need to turn off on their own; if they are already off, the system would just exit. Since it�s rare for me to be out really late, I picked 2am as the switch off time.
I like this solution because I�m often home after dark, plus if the wife and I are out at a function, we don�t have to fumble around in the dark looking for our house keys. The added benefit is the security of it looking as though someone is home.
The solution I came up with was all reasonable straight forward, but did take a lot of trial and error.
Firstly, I needed a machine that was always on at my place. My newly installed HTPC running Windows 10 would be the perfect candidate. I could�ve easily achieved this with a low powered PC such as a Raspberry Pi, but I needed a programming language (.net) and platform I was already familiar with.
To ease deployment and maintenance, I opted for a console application. If I was going after always on and super reliable, it would�ve been a Windows service.
The process works simply, as follows:
Happy to share the source code with anyone who wants it, just fire me an email, nate at 3bit dot com.(image)
Tue, 24 May 2016 16:07:00 PDTTransferring cash overseas hasn�t really been something I�ve been interested in until recently. With my younger brother now doing the Kiwi right of passage OE, it was time to hunt down a way to quickly and easily send him money if he needed it. The first thing I did learn is that pounds vs dollars exchange rate is not doing us any favours. Ouch. An app, for me, is essential. With the first transfer being free, WorldRemit was my first point of call, and works all easily from my Nexus 6P. I reached out to them, and with a small amount of provided credit, I tried out my very first transfer. Firstly, I am not a big fan of an app being a heavily crippled version of the full website. A great app is one where I can accomplish just about everything I could, instead of using the website. To test WorldRemit out, I signed up using just the app. It all worked, and all the tasks I use are in the app � checking what a transfer will cost with the current exchange rates, initiating a transfer and then seeing a log of what�s been done. Receiving a transfer can be done in a variety of ways, and are really dependent on the destination. I tested sending money to Uganda (better than to a Nigeria prince, but barely) and was given these options: Picking a recipient is also quick: Once the recipient is selected, the final confirmation is shown which allows you to do the transfer: (I forgot to put in the promo code before taking the screenshot, there was no transfer fee). On the next screen, I loaded in my credit card and the money transferred almost immediately. Easy. My only gripe with the process was a lack of communication when a security issue comes up. While doing this review, and not long after this transfer, my account was locked. It seemed that my transfer from my new account to a user in Uganda had raised red flags, and their automated security processes had locked me out. While it is impressive that WorldRemit do take security seriously, a quick email to me as the customer would�ve saved a few days of head scratching. Other than that it was all quick, easy and painless. Everything you need from a money transfer app. Disclaimer: WorldRemit provided me with $20 credit to try out the transfer process, which I transferred to one of their employees. This review was not paid for.[...]
Sun, 01 May 2016 21:29:00 PDT
Anyone who has used the eWay payment gateway for processing credit cards, will have come across this. If there is an issue, rather than alert you with what the issue is, the eWay API will give you a five digit response code, which you then have to decipher. Not helpful.
Chatting to their helpdesk today, they don�t provide all 235 different codes as a simple download (too easy I know), so using some regex magic from their documentation, I�ve dropped them all into one easy to import CSV file.
Import into your database of choice, and more meaningful eWay error codes are only a query away!(image)
Mon, 11 Apr 2016 01:39:00 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?�
Yes, these are real headlines. From a major newspaper.(image)
Sat, 02 Apr 2016 17:49:00 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.
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.
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.
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.(image)
Sat, 02 Apr 2016 02:09:00 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.
New Zealand numbers are again very close to the worldwide numbers:
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:
Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9 are now on the way out and at last Internet Explorer 6 disappears from our stats:
In terms of operating systems it pretty much remains unchanged from last year.
And at last Windows Vista disappears from the Microsoft Windows chart:
Previous posts for comparison:
Wed, 30 Mar 2016 16:29:00 PDTThis morning Microsoft Build kicked off in San Francisco and I'm there and will be sharing some of my impressions – both here on my blog, and also via twitter (You can follow my updates @paulspain). Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella started the keyn... (more in the full post)(image)
Fri, 11 Mar 2016 13:42:00 PST
Enough to say we aren�t happy with 2Cheap Cars.(image)
Tue, 09 Feb 2016 21:26:00 PST
The first international podcast conference in the region hits Auckland this Fri/Sat. Features an incredible lineup of speakers representing podcasting, radio, TV, marketing and communications. Do you know anyone who should be there?
With a massive line up of 12 speakers from all sides of the podcasting world, it�ll be a very informative two days. If you are interested in podcast, or run your own, this will be a great investment.
(Even if you can�t make it, you can buy tickets to stream it online� perfect!)(image)
Wed, 03 Feb 2016 10:03:00 PSTDiscussed this week – Japan Police capturing 3D mugshots, Huawei aces Samsung in China, a drones that flies/floats/dives, Microsoft's underwater datacentre, Plan B buys ICONZ, Samsung ad blocking, Microsofts licensing shuffle, Windows Phone vs... (more in the full post)(image)
Sat, 30 Jan 2016 14:34:00 PSTMy 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:
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!
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.
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)