Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New team member, Australia availability, usage updates

Hi everyone,

Well it has been a while since the last news post but things have been far from quiet here at Zenbu HQ. We have been working on all sorts of things some of which have already quietly been added to the website and you will have noticed but many of which are background performance enhancements that further improve speed and reliability.

One major development this year (that has happened quietly, so far) is that we have finally made the Zenbu system available for use in Australia.  Over the years we have been contacted by numerous people asking whether they could use the Zenbu Wi-Fi hotspot system to provide internet access at their businesses in Australia.  Up until earlier this year the answer was always no, but because there was an apparent lack of easy to use, reliable, affordable Wi-Fi management systems available in OZ we decided we should do something about it.  Now we have.  The Zenbu wireless system is now available for use in Australia, and it is just as reliable and easy to use as always.  The Zenbu Australia website is http://www.zenbu.net.au and people can securely order a Zenbu system online for use in Australia at https://secure.zenbu.net.au/purchase_wireless_router.  Easy.

A recent article in The New Zealand Herald discussed mobile data roaming charges for international travel and the shock people often experience when they return to their (sometimes HUGE) bill.  What the article doesn't mention is that the main reason for the exorbitant bills is simply that the telcos typically charge ridiculous prices for roaming data usage.  For example, Telecom NZ and Vodafone NZ charge $30 per megabyte and $10 per megabyte respectively for data roaming in the Cook Islands (prepaid prices as advertised on their websites on 5th November 2012).  If they didn't charge so much people wouldn't be so shocked at their bills!  In comparison Zenbu charges only 30 cents per megabyte for data usage in the Cook Islands and we are hopeful that we can lower that price even further in the near future!

Speaking of mobile data usage, a breakdown of current usage of our service by different mobile devices follows.  Sure enough, since the iPad was released the market share of iOS has increased quite dramatically.  Guess that is what happens when you create a product that sells millions in the first few months after release!  About 38% of visits to our website are now by mobile devices, up from about 10% a little more than a year ago.

The following is the current breakdown (during the last month):
Device typePercentage of users
Others (PSP, Windows etc) combinedless than 1%

In total we have now had over 6.4 million connections and a whopping 205,916,105 megabytes of data has been transmitted via our network of hotspots!  That is over 200,000 gigabytes (about 200 terabytes)!

In more news we have a new member of our team here at Zenbu HQ.  Hayden started with us at the beginning of October.  He has hit the ground running and is doing a good job.  It's nice to have another pair of capable hands to help with things here.  So a warm welcome to Hayden.  Please be nice to him if you are in contact, at least while he settles in!  8-)

Okay until next time I hope all is well out there.  Enjoy the beginning of summer.  It's already great to score the odd bit of daylight savings sunshine after a long day on the computers.


The Zenbu Team.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Some updates (automatic and other)...

Hi everyone,

Well the shadows are getting longer and this morning felt downright wintery (although to be fair after a recent trip to Rarotonga to sort out some things up in the Cook Islands most NZ days feel a bit wintery) so after what feels like a short (non-existent?) summer apparently autumn is nearly here, certainly officially anyway.

Firstly as a follow up to my previous post regarding forced automatic Skype updates I'm happy to report that since making the changes mentioned I haven't had a Skype update forced upon me.  Perhaps this is simply due to Skype not thinking their recent updates were worthy of forcing upon people or maybe (hopefully) the solutions suggested to stop the forced updates actually work.  So at this stage I can report that the modifications may work and Skype is still fully usable (and there have definitely been updates to Skype for both Mac and PC since the "fix" was implemented).  So far so good on that front.

Now while on the topic of software automatically updating itself without warning I'd like to mention another common culprit that many people don't often think about - web browsers.  It is understandable that updates to web browsers are fairly regular, but it is still a bit annoying that a few of the most commonly used web browsers (including my personal favourite Google Chrome) will by default update themselves automatically in the background without explicit authorization from the user to do so.  What's more (at least in the case of Google Chrome) it is not always easy to stop such updates from occurring.  So in case anyone else is keen to try to maintain some control over when and what software changes are made on their computers/devices I'll provide a few tips on disabling automatic updates in the common browsers (valid at the time of writing).  Warning:  as is often the case if you want to successfully deviate from the path of least resistance things can get a bit tricky.

Google Chrome (reference):

On a Mac:  In a terminal window execute 'defaults write com.google.Keystone.Agent checkInterval 0'.

On a PC:  Set the registry value of  HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Google\Update\AutoUpdateCheckPeriodMinutes
to the REG_SZ (string) value of "0"

Firefox (reference):

1. At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Firefox button (Tools menu in Windows XP) and then click Options.  2. Click the Advanced panel.  3. Click the Update tab.  The auto-update options are displayed and can be modified.

Internet Explorer:

Disable automatic Windows updates.  Anyone using Internet Explorer on a Mac (seriously?) is on their own and can surely work Google!


On a Mac:  Disable within 'Software update' settings (just click on 'apple' -> 'Software update').  I recommend disabling all automatic software updates as OSX generally has fairly frequent, large software updates (iTunes, iPhoto, system software etc).

Sorry if that is all a bit technical and please be aware that I'm not attempting to provide complete instructions for all browsers on all operating systems, more just a prompt to make people aware that their web browsers will often automatically update themselves without explicit authorization at the time of the update.  This can be frustrating not only because it uses bandwidth but also because it can make plugins, apps etc unusable.  Hopefully the above instructions are helpful and of interest to at least some people.

Now because this post is already pretty long I'll just give a brief update of a few happenings at Zenbu HQ.  We have now had over 4.3 million connections in total and on average there are nearly 10,000 connections a day!  We also have our first [trial] hotspot online in Australia (hi Mangrove Yoga!).  We have had numerous requests from Aussies over the years hoping to use our wireless system over there (mostly after experiencing it firsthand while in New Zealand) and if the initial trial works well we will hopefully make the Zenbu system widely available in Australia during the coming months.  Oh yes, and we have nearly 1000 hotspots online now, a milestone that should be reached in the next few months.

Okay that's about it from HQ for now.  Enjoy the remaining few weeks of daylight savings (summer really did go quickly!).

[PS. This guy should definitely have used Zenbu for internet access in the Cook Islands.  It would have saved him over $2000!]


The Zenbu Team.