vodafone 3g network crashes yet again

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 31-Dec-2006 22:05

vodafone 3g users are currently unable to send sms messages. switching your phone to gsm mode will allow you to send messages. sort your crap network out vodafone!

*Breaking News* Saddam Hussein has just been executed

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 30-Dec-2006 16:39

Watching it on CNN now

Petrol Price Conspiracy?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 29-Dec-2006 16:56

There have been quite a few people comment over the past few weeks that petrol pricing in NZ has become inflated as a result of the supermarket vouchers that are now common place and that it the companies can afford to offer discount vouchers then petrol should just be cheaper fullstop.

The Foodstuffs & Progressive vouchers are a split cost between the retailer and the fuel company with both paying a % of the total amount so it kind of proves the above point wrong - a 10c discount at the pump isn't sustainable because the fuel company isn't funding the whole 10c discount.

Because Caltex and Mobil have both lost out to BP & Shell who are participating in the fuel voucher scheme they have both introduced their own marketing campaigns to stop the churn of customers. Mobil have come up with the most braindead idea of all time - spend $4 in your shop and we'll give you 4c per litre off. Hello?? Is anybody home? Why would I want to spend $4 in your shop just to save $3 on petrol? Caltex on the other hand have offered to accept any supermarket fuel vouchers and offer up to a maximum of 4c per litre off fuel.

It did make me wonder today however driving past the Caltex Fuelstop on Hutt Rd in Wellington. This is a self service card only stop and normally has their petrol priced around 1-2c cheaper than other Caltex stations. Their currently price for 91 Unleaded is 137.5 and 142.5 for Premium. This represents a 5.4c discount over the 142.9 price for 91 at other stations.

To me this seems a fairly obvious case that we are paying maybe 4c per litre too much for fuel at the pump. For those of you in Wellington I suggest topping up at Caltex Hutt Rd if you don't have a discount voucher to use elsewhere!

**WARNING** Subway Subcards Privacy Issues.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 28-Dec-2006 11:03

I've been a Subway fan since they first opened in NZ so was a little disappointed when their sticker program ended earlier in the year but was quite excited when a friend who works there told me it was being replaced by a new swipe card system that would offer a lot of extra benefits.

Sunway launched these cards a few weeks ago but I only got around to picking mine up yesterday and the concept is cool - you buy your goods and card is scanned which credits your card/account with money for every sub you purchase and these can be used towards the purchase of a product once you have a minimum of $3. You will also be able to top this card up over the internet in the new year so it will end up being a prepaid card and there will apparently be lots of bonus points features occuring over time.

You can log into the subway website to view your card balance. The first time you log on you are prompted to enter your personal details including name, date of birth, gender, address, contact numbers and email address.

The scary part? Access to the website is by entering the 16 digit card number and 4 digit security code that is printed ON THE BACK of your Subcard for anybody to see! http://thor.evolution.co.nz/Subway-Customer/Login.html

If you lose your card anybody who finds it now has access to your personal details and can change them instantly online to be their own and also has access to any credit you have loaded onto the card.

Subway say they can replace registered cards

You must notify us immediately by calling [0800 78 222 73] if your SUBCARDTM is lost, stolen or destroyed.  Provided your old SUBCARDTM was registered, we will issue you with a replacement SUBCARDTM and freeze the remaining SUBWAY® Reward Dollars and cash balance on your old SUBCARDTM from the time that you report to us that your SUBCARDTM is lost, stolen or destroyed.

To credit a replacement SUBCARDTM with previously earned SUBWAY® Reward Dollars or a previously loaded cash balance we will require proof of your identity (including photo identification).  The crediting of a replacement SUBCARDTM is at our sole discretion.

But if somebody gets hold of my card and changes my details before I notify them the card is no longer mine because it will have somebody else's details on it so I have absolutely no hope of getting my credit back.

Sorry Subway I think you've blown it big time with your customer privacy this time. Like Pago who fail to impliment security procedures to stop accounts being hijacked you're now exposing your customers private details to anybody who wants to see them. This is simply not good enough. To access the web page users should have been requested to enter an account password which would have been so simple to add at the time the project was developed. Whoever worked as a Business Analyst for this project should go back to school and retrain as something else.

Why is upgrading Windows Defender so hard?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 7-Dec-2006 14:10

Like any Windows user who uses Windows Defender you would have had an upgrade message appear over the past 24 hours because a new version of this software is available. What intrigues me is why Microsoft have made upgrading this software such a big hassle, particularly for Windows users who may not be computer experts. I thought things were supposed to be getting easier, not more complicated!

Step 1:
Click on download box inside Windows Defender, this redirects you to the website.

Click on the button to proceed with Windows Genuine Advantage check.
Install WGA ActiveX toolbar by right clicking and allowing it to run. WGA congratulates me for having a licenced copy of XP. What a waste of time - any h8cker out there knows how to get around this anyway.

Download Windows Defender

Run the downloaded file

Manually close down Windows Defender because installation says it's already running

Read complex licence that basically says our software could send back your private info to MS from your PC but don't worry we won't be identifying you.

Download latest updates

Reauthorise existing apps that I want to keep running that it has identified as security issues.

You've got me MS - I don't think you could make the upgrade process more complex if you tried. No novice computer user will really be able to easily follow these steps and you wonder why Spyware is everywhere..

Woosh WiMax no more?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 23-Nov-2006 12:51

The government have just announced that their will be a spectrum auction next year for the 2.3Ghz band.


This means that Woosh's ill-fated attempt to acquire WiMax spectrum through the backdoor from other licence holders has done nothing! The outcome of these actions could be very interesting..

Worlds first WCDMA/HSDPA 900MHz live network trial

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 14-Nov-2006 18:20

Nokia and Finnish telecom operator Elisa have carried out the world's first WCDMA/HSDPA data call on the 900 MHz band in a commercial network.


Vodafone NZ are planning on deploying the same solution here next year.

Great service from online retailers

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 14-Nov-2006 09:48

We tend to hear and read a lot of complaints from people who have received poor service from online retailers so I thought it was time I congratulated a few stores that I have received excellent service from


These guys have to set the benchmark when it comes to providing service - a great website, great customer service and overnight delivery in most cases. If you're after any flash media you have to be stupid to go elsewhere (and they sponsored Geekzone 06!)


I've purchased various items of hardware from Aquilatech recently and they are another example of how to keep customers happy - provide great service & great pricing.

Plenty of other retailers could learn a lot from the retailers above!

Vodafone really are smart

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 3-Nov-2006 07:43

My last few posts have knocked Vodafone so I thought it was time to say something nice about them.

Supa PrePay & BestMate is a *very* smart move by Vodafone.

The mobile market these days is all about making money. Unlike the past where it was all about growing customer numbers, the fact all the mobile operators paid far too much for their 3G licences means they now need to recoup the cost!

Both Vodafone & Telecom have a PrePay APRU (average revenue per user) of ~ $25 per month. So how does Supa PrePay affect this? As we all know the cost of voice calls and SMS's these days is very minimal, especially for on network traffic. With $10 TXT2000 Vodafone are now getting a guaranteed $10 upfront from their customers and BestMate gives them $6 revenue upfront. From what I've heard in the past 24 hours the uptake rate of Supa Prepay & BestMate has been better than expected which is great news for Vodafone - they are effectively getting $16 per month upfront from a growing number of PrePay users whereas before their guaranteed revenue was $0. With calls now rounded up to the nearest minute it's logical that the APRU for an average Supa PrePay user with BestMate & TXT2000 will now exceed that $25 average. That's what I call being smart.

All Vodafone need to do now is start the same way of thinking when it comes to on account plans. It's not about exploiting users, it's about making them feel like they are receiving value for money while setting monthly plan pricing that will grow your ARPU. Offering people compelling plans for around $60 per month which gives them maybe 300 mins of anytime calls/video calls and a large number of SMS's and some included data would be perfect for a large number of users. Offer the plan and the customers will come..

Vodafone Supa Prepay & Vodafone You Lose (oops You Choose)

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 31-Oct-2006 18:09

Today Vodafone NZ launched Supa prepay. With their new billing system upgrade that allows monthly charging features to be added to a Pre Pay account it's now possible to have addons on your Pre Pay account.

From today Vodafone's base Supa PrePay account has call charges of 89c per minute 24/7 with topups required every 3 months and also features $2 capped calls for up to w hours. Two monthy addons are also available - $6 per month for BestMate offering you the ability to nominate a single Vodafone number that you can voice call/video call/txt all you want in a month, and $10 for 2000 Vodafone->Vodafone SMS.

While this account is good news for many PrePay customers it's not suitable for all, and some people will be better off on their existing accounts which offer 49c calling 24/7 and per second billing after the first minute until Supa PrePay which is rounded up to the nearest minute.

What Vodafone have done yet again however is shafted customers on their You Choose plans. Yet again PrePay customers who have a substancially lower ARPU are being treated as special customers yet those customers who choose to enter into a contract with Vodafone are yet again being completely and utterly shafted by a company who obviously has very little idea on how to maintain customer happiness & loyalty.
If you're a customer on You Choose 20 you're currently paying $19.95 per month for 20 minutes of airtime with excess airtime charged at 99c per minute and can choose an AddOn and pay $9.95 per month for 1000 Vodafone->Vodafone SMS's.

If you're on this You Choose plan I would suggest you make contact with Vodafone and personally thank them for shafting you once again. You're currently trapped in a minimum 12 month term contract and your mates on PrePay are now getting a far better deal. 

  You Choose? More like You Lose.

If Vodafone has a single person in their marketing department right now with a brain they would would currently be offering some sort of sweetener to all their on account customers. We know that the above scenario will change early next year once on account customers are moved to the new billing platform but to be ripping your existing customers off while new customers get a better deal is just plain dumb.

sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at stevenbiddle@gmail.com