Windows Genuine Advantage

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 4-Jul-2006 22:14

If you've been using XP over the last few months or following the news you're probably aware that MS deployed "trial" software called Windows Genuine Advantage in select countries which came as high priority windows update. This software checked your product ID and if it suspected you were running a pirated copy of XP displayed a nice logo on your log in srceen saying that your software may be counterfeit and a nag screen in your system tray. It also rang home to MS every time you rebooted your PC which was not disclosed by MS.

There have been numerous reports of this software causing incompatiblity issues and over the past couple of days there appears to have been a significant back down from MS as the anti WGA backlash started to gain momentum.

MS being sued over WGA Spyware

How to remove WGA from your system

And this candid interview with Microsoft's chief privacy strategist who essentially says "we stuffed up"

Telecom NZ dumping CDMA? ..Well at least according to NZ Herald

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 26-Jun-2006 15:11

Well the Herald would certainly want you to think that!

The Herald is going downhill big time, crap articles like this are further proof

How does Nokia stopping the manufacture of CDMA phones lead them to the conclusion that Telecom will have to dump CDMA? The fact Nokia make up such a small % of CDMA handset shipments is one of the reasons why they are focusing on GSM and WCDMA!

And the brainless journalist doesn't even realise that if Telecom where to move away from CDMA it to be to WCDMA and not GSM!

World's First WiMax/WiBro & CDMA Dual Phone

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 22-Jun-2006 17:02

Now this could be particularly interesting in light of the Woosh/Telecom tieup and some speculation around a few months ago of a possible WiBro/WiMax upgrade..

What's gone wrong at Vodafone?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 12-Jun-2006 20:43

So how could a company that once aspired to be the global leader in mobile get it all so wrong?

Under the leadership of Chris Gent Vodafone went shopping with the simple goal of being the biggest mobile operator in the world. They only wanted to be the biggest, they also wanted to be the best. When you thought of a mobile phone they wanted you to think of the bright red Vodafone logo. On their way they also happened upon the term "Vodafone Experience", effectively Vodafone wanted their customers to live, sleep and breath the Vodafone Experience. There simply would be no other mobile network that could offer you the warm fuzzies like Vodafone was going to do. Vodafone wanted to help design the phones, run the network and deliver you content on your phone through a walled garden WAP based experience known simply as Vodafone Live!

This dream of word dominance continued under Gent who didn't really see any reason why Vodafone couldn't have a presence in every market in the world because afterall that's what great companies do. The problem was that there were significant stumbling blocks that Vodafone either ignored, or didn't see. Because Vodafone had built itself primarily on acquisitions they had a huge mix of radio gear, billing systems and networks from numerous different vendors and trying to roll out products and services across this network was damn near impossible. Around 18 months ago somebody inside Vodafone finally

realised this and the "One Vodafone" concept was launched. Vodafone was now going to take advantage of the economies of scale that should be being achieved in a company of their size with the ultimate goal of outperforming their peers. There were going to be standardised plans for cellsites, core networks moved to IP, and network planning and purchasing that is nogotiated on a global scale removing much of the decision making from individual networks. Phones were going to be heavily customised (because the walled garden of Live! was believed to attract people to the network) and heavily marketed because significant numbers of customers already know what model of handset they want before they go shopping for a phone. So with this big plan how could it all go wrong for Vodafone? Chris Gent stood down after taking Vodafone from a small startup in the UK to become the dominant player in the mobile world. His replacement Arun Sarin has been unpopular since his appointment and there have been plenty of fights inside the Vodafone boardroom, the most famous of which was Gent resigning as honorary life president earlier this year due to his disagreement of the direction Sarin was taking. A few weeks ago they posted the biggest loss in European history of a whopping £14.9bn, primarily caused by writedowns of European networks that they paid far too much money for during the dotcom boom and excessive prices paid for 3G spectrum. While this loss is significant and Vodafone has £20bn in debt on it books things surely things can only be looking up for them, can't they? After all isn't the future of communications totally mobile?

Many people think so. Afterall, do you really need a landline phone if you have a mobile phone that can do exactly the same thing but is also portable? The big buzzword at the moment if you are a PSTN operator is convergence - being able to make your landline your mobile and your mobile your landline. However if you don't have a PSTN phone then why do you need convergence? Vodafone NZ's concept of having a local PSTN number for your mobile phone is a great idea and Telecom are so scared they currently won't let Vodafone launch the product due to a disagreement over the definition of "local call" termination. The fact Telecom are breaking their own rules every time a Telecom customer diverts their PSTN number to a

mobile phone seems to escape them. The problem is that there is currently a bottleneck when it comes to delivering internet access at broadband speeds using wireless. Telecom's EV-DO network kicks ass over Vodafone's WCDMA network and future upgrades for EV-DO are only going to enhance this offering. HSDPA and HSUPA are going to be a viable upgrade path for existing WCDMA operators but to be completely honest I'll believe HSDPA can handle 14.4 Mbit/s when I see it. Remember GPRS was always going to offer 144kbps? Yeah right..

People are now demanding broadband speeds for their internet access and in NZ at least Telecom are well

positioned to slam dunk Vodafone with their future upgrade path for EV-DO which turns it into an IP based mobile network combined with a core Next Generation Network that is once again IP based. Suddenly your one device does everything everywhere. The future of calling is VoIP and calls are going to be free. Period. Where does this leave Vodafone? Just as traditional telcos laughed at Skype a couple of years ago they have since realised that Skype is no laughing matter.

Vodafone's walled garden is suddenly going to haunt them as people realise that Vodafone simply can't give them the products & services they want at the price they want to pay. Google News delivered by WAP is amazing to use and best of all you're not stuck paying Live! prices. Vodafone need to realise that these days the mobile market is no different to any other FMCG product and that customers are a lot smarter than they were several years ago which really makes you wonder why it's still cheaper to head to many foriegn countries and roam on another GSM network because the prices are cheaper than roaming on a Vodafone network. People are disliking their heavily customised phones and in NZ at least Vodafone are simply being out marketed by Telecom where Kevin Kenrick has done to Vodafone what Vodafone spent many years doing to Telecom which is making them eat dirt.

Now back to Vodafone as a group. The talk over the past few days has been of a revolt against Sarin and several other board members by some large institutional shareholders. Whether or not this happens is anybody's guess but there can now be no disputing that their is turmoil at the top and that somebody or something has to break. There are some interesting times ahead..

Telecom's Advertising

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 7-Jun-2006 07:46

You almost have to feel sorry for Telecom! :-)

Apparently telling people that they can win a trip to space as a prize and then not actually giving them that prize is breaking the law..,2106,3692038a1860,00.html

What sort of idiots do Saatchi & Saatchi employ that really thought they could get away with misleading advertising?

Why do people hate Annette Presley?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 6-Jun-2006 16:13

From the various posts on this site and others there seem to be a lot of people out there (including a couple of friends I have who are former employees) who absolutely despise the woman. She now seems to be up there with the CEO of another telco when it comes to being the most hated woman in the country.

This raises the question of why New Zealanders seem to love knocking people who aspire to be succesful, not just in the telco world, but in the business world in general. There are many examples of both  people and entire companies who have had the masses turn against them overnight simply because they build a business on a successful model and end up with a profitable company.

What is so bad about her being successful?

Is it because she is a woman? Or the power suit?

Is it because of her evolutionary approach to running an ISP (i4free) that effectively slam dunked Telecom and caused lots of nasty words to be spoken inside the Jervois Quay boardroom? The i4free business model where termination rates are used to subsidise a service is no different to Telecom Mobile & Vodafone who run a business model based around substancial income from termination and insist that MTR's cannot be reduced because it will hurt them.

Is it because she has pledged to reduce the costs for internet access and phone service in NZ? Do people not really want to save money?

Who cares if Slingshot/Callplus have a Call Centre in India? The technical skills and level of education levels of those staff exceeds that of many New Zealanders employed in the same position. At the end of the day there are only two things people want when they ring a call centre or help desk - 1) The call to be answered quickly and 2) The question/problem to be solved. If I can ring India and get my call answered and problem solved in under 5 minutes then I'm a happy customer. I had a need to ring the Paradise.Net helpdesk the other evening and was prompted with a message telling me there was currently a wait time of approximately 60 minutes.

CallPlus/Slingshot have some seriously cool products including a lot of fantastic Cisco gear for their VoIP network. Commverge currently offers NZ businesses the opportunity to move to a fully managed VoIP solution which can give you a nationwide interoffice virtual PBX that can be fully managed from a web browser. This is what Telecom are going to offer with their NGN in 18 months time but the reality is that it's here right now. They also offer iTalk which is a retail ITSP offering residential customers a replacement for their existing PSTN phone service, a physical phone number and dirt cheap call rates. The only thing that appears to be holding this back? VoIP over Telecom ADSL connections in NZ are just rubbish because Telecom are allowed to use interleaving, don't need to allow people to use "real time applications" and are not required to give any QoS or bandwidth guarantees.

And before anybody asks if she's related the answer is no. And secondly I have no interests in Slingshot/Callplus, I don't even work in the IT industry! The only thing I just don't understand is the whole bread thing.. Maybe somebody can enlighten me? Maybe the woman herself is a Geekzone member? :-)

Google Maps

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 19-May-2006 16:15

As of today Google now have street level maps for both New Zealand and Australia. This is great news for any developers who want to add mapping functionaility to their website or application with the free Google Maps API rather than having to pay another provider for access to their mapping system!


Permalink to Google Maps | Main Index

Telecom Leak traced to PM's office

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 16-May-2006 17:06

So much for Helen Clark's denials that it was her office.

"The State Services Commissioner has just revealed Michael Ryan - a messenger employed by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet - passed government plans to unbundle the local loop to Telecom"

I wonder how's she's going to explain herself now after pointing fingers at everybody else?

On the 13th she was in denial that it was her office (,2106,3666315a10,00.html) yet apparently the person had been identificed by then. Who's telling the truth?

Woosh & Telecom - together at last

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 15-May-2006 08:55

I guess the inevitable has happened & Woosh have realised they are a lame duck who will be out of business by Xmas unless they can roll out a network that can actually work. There have been many people out there (like myself) who have always said that Woosh was a lot closer to Telecom than they made out. Telecom believed Woosh being successful would prove there was no case for ULL in NZ, things just haven't quite worked out that way and now Woosh have accumulated losses of $120 million and investors who have no hope of ever getting a return but have no choice put to pump more money into a lame duck or close it down. This announcement could be rather interesting and makes you wonder if Telecom simply did a deal to stop somebody else (Slingshot anybody?) getting access to Woosh's existing cellsites to add WiMax gear too

No it's not the drug dog - it's the DVD dog

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 12-May-2006 19:33

Apparently it's not the 1st April today so this must be true.

All this from the same airport that has the usual Green & Red channels for customs and in the 10 or so times I've flown though this airport in recent years there has never been any sign on a customs person in the red channel. In September last year when I flew through there twice they even had a big sign by the red channel exit advising you to pick up the courtesy phone if you had anything to declare. They have obviously heard of a famous saying from the Tui billboards in the UK as well! :-)

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