Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Archive for March 2008

Lebron on Live Spaces

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Building a clone of MySpace obviously didn’t help Live Spaces catch its competitor in the same way that Facebook has done but I guess if packing features in doesn’t help then good ol’ star power will have to do instead.

Check out Lebron James’ first blog entry on his Live Space http://lebron-blog.spaces.live.com/.

Expect more Lebron branded stuff on MSN/Windows Live before too long in addition to this. At the time of writing he’s got 296 friends; seeing if that number increases dramatically or not might be a useful portent as to the success of Lebron-icising MSN/Windows Live.

Written by Jamiet

March 31, 2008 at 9:47 am

Posted in Live Spaces

What’s with Windows Live URLs?

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In my day job as a software developer nerd one discipline that I constantly strive to drill into my teammates is the value of consistency. When products or services look and behave like their related products and services that users have experienced before then it makes those services simpler, easier to understand, it engenders a sense of cohesiveness and generally makes for a better user experience. Consistency generally makes software development easier as well as it promotes reuse of code and processes.

Microsoft Office is a good example of this. Great pains are obviously taken in ensuring that menu options are consistent across all products in all products in the Office suite. Windows Live services are another good example. All of the online services (well, nearly all) leverage a consistent look and feel through the use of the Windows Live header.

 

Consistency in URLs is very very important because it makes them easier to remember. With that in mind then I wonder why the same discipline that I talked about above isn’t fully employed across the domains of the various Windows Live services. Sure they all end with "Live.com" but that’s generally where consistency ends. Let me try and explain what I mean by that.

Live Spaces

My main touchpoint with Windows Live services is that which you are reading from right now; my Live Space. Let’s take a look at its domain part of my Live Space URLs:

I like that. You know instantly that this is someone’s Live Space and the "jamiethomson" part of it (which I chose) uniquely identifies whose space it is. [N.B. I could have chosen some cryptic, some might say cooler, identifier than a simple concatenation of my first name and last name but I’m a fan of being as descriptive and explicit as possible.] I like that the URL follows a self-explanatory convention of http://unique-identifier.service-name.live.com; I’m not sure if self-explanatory URLs is a tenet of the RESTful movement but if it isn’t it should be.

Zune Social

OK, moving on. On Zune Social the URL of my profile is:

Again, I quite like this. I have been given the option of choosing my Zune tag (I picked the same identifier as I already used for my Live Space) and from looking at the URL you instantly know that "jamiethomson" is a member of Zune Social (whatever that may be). Again, its self-explanatory. Its not exactly consistent with my Live Space (if it was then http://jamiethomson.member.zunesocial.live.com would have made more sense) but given that Zune Social isn’t a Windows Live service I have no quibble here.

It would have been nice if my Zune tag (which is actually the same as an XBox Live gamer tag) were automatically the same as the identifier in my Live Space (or vice versa) but again given that Zune Social/XBox Live is not a Windows Live service I’ll let that one slide.

Live Events

The URL for any event is:

Good, it follows the same convention (http://unique-identifier.service-name.live.com) as my Live Space domain. Its easy to remember and its self-explanatory.

Live Calendar

When I began writing this blog entry I was preparing to be rather critical about Live Calendar’s URL because whenever I signed-in to it I end up at:

Not only does that not contain anything that identifies me it also contains the word "calendar" three times and that seemed utterly pointless to me. However, whilst writing this blog entry I discovered that the following:

takes me to my Live Calendar as well. This is consistent with my Live Space and Live Events, excellent stuff. I’d prefer that this were the default URL for Live Calendar but I won’t complain about that given that this service is still in beta.

Its not all good news with Live Calendar though. I keep a few publicly available calendars at:

The URLs shown here contain "jamie". Why is that? Its not relevant information and its not something I picked either – if an identifier for me were to be used then it should be "jamiethomson" as per my Live Space.  What is the domain going to be for calendars created by someone else called Jamie? This seems a very strange choice of URL convention to me and I don’t even understand why my name even has to be present. Surely http://leeds+united+fixtures.calendar.live.com/ and http://Sunbury-on-Thames.calendar.live.com/ would be better wouldn’t they?

Skydrive

Its getting even worse now. My Skydrive domain is:

What on earth is that meant to be? What’s wrong with http://jamiethomson.skydrive.live.com? At least I’d be able to remember that. In practice its not so much of a problem for me because http://skydrive.live.com will redirect me to the above URL but its a huge problem for anyone that I am sharing files with because they have to store the URL of the file in order to access it rather than just remembering it. That’s BAD. And Skydrive doesn’t have the excuse of being a beta service anymore either.

Windows Live Groups

Domain names for the forthcoming Windows Live Groups service are unknown at this time but I will be disappointed if they are not http://group-name.groups.live.com (or http://group-name.jamiethomson.groups.live.com for private groups).

 

After the domain name

OK, that’s tackled some of the various domains of the Windows Live services, now let’s examine the URLs of the sub-domain resources.

I have a blog category on my Live Space called "Zune". Given that http://jamiethomson.spaces.live.com/blog takes you to all of my blog entries would it not make sense for the URL of that category to be http://jamiethomson.spaces.live.com/blog/category/zune or something similar? Of course it would, instead its this:

WTF!!! Am I supposed to be able to remember that? Does it even tell me what content actually resides at that URL? The answer to both of those questions is a resounding "No". This is really bad, as are these:

Credit where credit is due I suppose, some URLs on Live Spaces do make some sense:

Conclusion

While there has clearly been some effort to try and unify URL conventions across all of the Windows Live properties there is still some way to go. Live Calendar URLs need to be reviewed before that service comes out of beta and Skydrive needs to be completely overhauled, without breaking existing links of course. I also hope that the Live Spaces people give some thought to URLs for their fine-grained resources such as blog entries and blog categories.

 

-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

March 31, 2008 at 7:45 am

Posted in Windows Live

Going home (a personal blog entry)

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18 months ago I write a blog entry on my work blog called "Leave Home" where I announced my impending move to the good ol’ US of A.
 
Well today that little sojourn is drawing to a close. In about 10 hours I’m getting on a plane that is going to whisk me back home to London where I intend to stay for a long long time. My main reason for going home is my impending marriage to my beautiful fiancee Helen.
 
I’ve had a great time on my stateside trip which has taken me from Bakersfield CA to Houston TX via various trips to LA (many many times), San Francisco, Vegas (5 times), Seattle (3 times), San Diego, New York (twice), Tahoe, Reno, Coachella, Galveston and Miami (pics of all are up here). The lasting memory of my time here will be all the friends that I’ve made all over the place or friendships that have been cemented. I’ll probably forget some people (apologies in advance) but I’m thinking of Andy, Katie, James, Christian, Jane, Tim, AJ, David, Dan, Imran, Semon, Emily, Renee, Kristine, Toby, MattRamp, fat marley and family, Michelle, Richard, Dan, Elizabeth, Katie, Kristina, Amy, Caroline, Karl, Simon, Jessica, Mary, Scott. You all know who you are!
 
A special mention must go to Houston’s leading lothario and my housemate of the past 6 months, James, who has had to put up with my grumpy northern disposition and dubious cooking/cleaning abilities. I’ll miss you mate – can’t wait to see you at the wedding!
 
Thanks all if you are reading this. London (and Helen) here I come!
 
-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

March 27, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Zune ideas still spewing forth

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I’m still throwing ideas for Zune Social up onto the Zune Forums. My latest few are below, let me know what you think.

 


Build xrank into Zune Social

 

How about when we browse to an artist on ZMP or the Social you show information from their XRank profile.

XRank is a vertical search offering from Live Search that ranks celebrities based on how often they’ve been in the news lately. For example, here is John Lennon’s XRank: http://search.live.com/xrank/results.aspx?q=John+Lennon and the XRank for my favourite all time band, The Stone Roses http://search.live.com/xrank/results.aspx?q=the+stone+roses

There’s a lot of information on there that could be leveraged in Zune Social/ZMP. If nothing else just show their XRank on the artist profile page in Zune Social.

 


RSS feeds for my plays and other data

I’d like to see RSS feeds provided that pass out all my information. Something like the following might work:

That way I’d be able to choose which information I want on my Zune profile or I’d be able to show it on other sites such as http://friendfeed.com/jamiet

Obviously I would have the option of whether to make this data available or not.

You could also make site-scoped info available as well:

Or artist-scoped info:


Let me list gigs I have been to or am going to

I’ve talked before about how gigs are the "real" social aspect of music. Hence, why not give us a way to meet fellow zuneaholics at gigs.

Give us a way of listing gigs that we are going to or have gone to on our profiles. If I happen to add the same gig as someone else then tell me about those people – give us a chance to meet on Zune Social.

You could also publish my list of concerts as a Live Calendar (http://calendar.live.com). Nay, you should DEFINITELY do this. Maybe you could give us the option to create a Windows Live Group for that particular gig (after WL Groups gets released later this year).

-Jamie


-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

March 26, 2008 at 12:53 am

Posted in Zune

Loving photo stitch in Windows Live Photo Gallery

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Houston downtown from my office window

The view from my office window in downtown Houston.

 

Written by Jamiet

March 24, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Live Photo Gallery

Windows Live service bites the dust

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collections_no_more
 
Did anyone use it anyway? I added a couple of things up there but I never found any use from it.

Written by Jamiet

March 21, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Posted in Live Maps

I don’t prefer Windows Live Spaces to Facebook

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Brandon LeBlanc just posted a blog entry entitled I prefer Windows Live Spaces to Facebook. Well Brandon, I can’t agree I’m afraid. When compared as pure social-networking offerings Facebook wins hands down for 2 main reasons:

  1. I am associated with MUCH more of my "real-life" friends on Facebook than I am on Live Spaces
  2. Facebook is feature rich compared to Live Spaces. e.g. Live Spaces’ newsfeed (currently) contains only 6 different types of information, Facebook’s contains much more than that.

I should post a disclaimer at this point. On an earlier post of Brandon’s I left a comment saying "I couldn’t give a toss that none of my friends are on [Live Spaces] cos I don’t want to waste my time on "social networking". I don’t do Facebook for the same reason." I have to admit that’s no longer true – of late I have gotten the bug and have been drawn inexorably into regularly visiting Facebook.

So, you may ask, why do I use Live Spaces so much? Well the answer is pretty simple, and its something I alluded to in the first line of this blog entry. Facebook is a social-networking platform and in my opinion its the best one there is … but that is ALL it is. My Windows Live ID (which gets me into Live Spaces) gives me access to a plethora of things that you don’t get with Facebook such as:

In summary the reason I align myself with Windows Live is simply because it provides access to so much more services than any other online ID. There aren’t many of the Windows Live services that could be considered best-of-breed but collectively they form the best integrated overall offering out there. People who read my blog regularly are probably sick of me saying that but its true so I’m going to keep saying it.

-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

March 17, 2008 at 3:41 am

Posted in Live Spaces