Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Archive for May 2008

Internet through the mains

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Maybe I’m slow on the uptake but until today I didn’t know that it was possible to build a home network via your electricity sockets. I was browsing through PCWorld just this afternoon and happened upon Netgear’s Powerline range. I was skeptical by the claim on the box stating that one could "Turn electrical outlets into an Internet & Network connection" but I was suitably curious enough to drop the best part of 100notes on a XE103 85Mbps well-plugged ethernet bridgeand a XE104 wall-plugged switch

 

and my god … they just work. I’m sitting here with an ethernet cable running from my laptop to the mains socket happily browsing the internet. I’m amazed.

 

Is this news to anyone else or have I been living in a bubble?

 

-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

May 26, 2008 at 8:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A sneak peek at Mesh

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For those of you that don’t have access to Mesh (and that give a crap), I thought you might appreciate a quick taster of one part of it. Here is a screenshot of my contact page, everyone on the Mesh has one.

image

I only actually discovered this myself for the first time just this morning and I’ve been using Mesh for a few weeks now so its definitely hidden away. There’s some interesting things to note here.

Firstly, the profile information that you see comes from my Live Spaces profile. Does that mean that everyone that uses Live Mesh is expected to go and fill in their information at Live Spaces? I hope not, that doesn’t seem like a good way of winning public opinion to me given that Live Spaces’ reputation aint exactly the greatest. Another question; if Microsoft allow us to login to Mesh using OpenID as I postulated on Tuesday (and the answer given to my question about OpenID in the Live Mesh forum doesn’t make me think that they won’t) where are they going to get the profile information from? Well the answer to that should be another burgeoning technology that I am passionate about, FOAF (go and read about it).

Aside from that there’s not too much to write home about here. Its got the now ubiquitous newsfeed, it aggregates a list of shared folders that you are a member of and well…that’s about it. Mesh is only as good as the applications that run on it though and right now there aren’t any other than file sync. There’s going to be a lot of value in the newsfeed once we are running applications on Mesh, I’m sure it won’t be long before I start seeing everything from my Twitter feed appear on here for example.

Keep coming back for future posts. I’ll have a lot more to say about Mesh.

-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

May 23, 2008 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Live Mesh

Why Microsoft need advertising

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I’ve noticed alot of people in the press (most notably Mary Jo Foley) questioning why Microsoft are trying so hard to get into the advertising game rather than concentrating on their core competencies. Well for those that are too dumb to realise the bleeding obvious (which it is) Mike Arrington of Techcrunch has summed it up perfectly today where he states:

Microsoft’s core revenue is derived from Windows and Office, and the future doesn’t look <http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/11/gartner-says-vista-will-collapse-and-thats-why-the-yahoo-deal-must-happen/&gt; to be very bright for desktop software sales. Google’s revenues, currently at $20 billion a year, could someday surpass Microsoft’s (Microsoft is currently at about $50 billion/year in revenue) if nothing is done to change the game.

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Written by Jamiet

May 22, 2008 at 10:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Windows Live ID – Mesh’s barrier to entry

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The intentions for Live Mesh are pretty clear. Mesh is the platform that Microsoft will soon want their developer army to start developing for so that Mesh becomes the centre of your online experience. I’m sure that even as we speak there are teams beavering away in Seattle working to produce toolsets, documentation, demo applications, training courses, presentation material and other such paraphernalia that are all intended to make Mesh arrive with a bang when it reaches the masses in and around October later this year. However, there is one important aspect to Mesh though that I hope has not been overlooked.
 
To use Mesh today you need to login with your Windows Live ID. Microsoft claim that there are 440 million active Live IDs out there today which is a formidable number but doesn’t come close to the estimated 1.4billion people that are using the internet today. (N.B. This doesn’t mean that 440million people are actively using a Windows Live ID – two of those Windows Live IDs are mine for example). So, depending on whether you are a glass-half-empty or glass-half-full kinda person Mesh could be considered as open to (max) 440 million people or alternatively closed to 1 billion of them.
 
Hence I’m of the opinion that if Microsoft truly want Mesh to be the de facto platform for future web development then Windows Live ID is a barrier to entry. As I’ve just explained the majority of internet users today do not have access to Mesh and in fact is that there is a large contingent of those users that simply don’t want to give their personal information to Microsoft or any other corporation.
 
So, Microsoft have a problem. What can they do about it? The answer to that question is actually pretty simple, they should allow people to login to Mesh using their OpenID. Support for OpenID would allow those people that do not have a Windows Live ID to login with (for example) their Yahoo ID or, in the future, their Google ID. That’s great for people that don’t want to submit their data to Microsoft and ergo even better for companies that want to do business on the Mesh because they have a much bigger user base. Its also great for Microsoft because this move would win them a lot of mindshare with internet users that are skeptical about Microsoft’s direction for the web.
 
A question arising from this is, "Is it in Microsoft’s interests to allow users of other identity systems to login to their services?" The answer to this is a resounding YES. Given the choice between (1) knowing everything about their Mesh users or (2) having more users I’m pretty sure that Microsoft would choose "having more users" and they have already demonstrated through their policy around Live Contacts that they value users more than user data. If Mesh is going to be the service that Microsoft want it to be then they need to lower that barrier to entry and allow OpenID authentication for Mesh.
 
Before I go I want to call out a quote from a blog entry that Dave Winer posted yesterday:
"People return to sites that send them away"
I agree with that philosophy. Treating users how they want and deserve to be treated engenders loyalty. Allowing OpenID login to Mesh should be a strategic decision, not a compromise.
 
Will we see Mesh support for OpenID? I hope so.
 
-Jamie
 
 
 
 


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Written by Jamiet

May 20, 2008 at 9:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized

New search vertical from Live Search

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Well….sort of!

http://try.indysearch.co.uk

[Slightly laconic blog entry I know – its because I’m blogging from my phone for the first time ever]

Written by Jamiet

May 19, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Yet more Zune ideas

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I had a couple of Zune ideas today which I posted to the Zune Social forums and thought I’d put them up here as well to see what others think of them.

 

Sync xRank

A while ago I suggested displaying xRank info on an artist’s Zune page (e.g. Here is John Lennon’s xRank: http://search.live.com/xrank/results.aspx?q=John+Lennon) That hasn’t happened yet but I hope it will do soon.

Now here’s an extra idea. Wouldn’t it be cool if up-to-date xRank info were synced to our Zune device? e.g. I’m listening to a John Lennon song on my Zune and I have the option to see the information from his xRank as it was last time I synced.

[Originally posted here]

 

 

Sync reviews

Now that every album can have user reviews wouldn’t it be cool if those reviews appeared on our device whenever we started listening to an album.

This would be even more compelling for those people that use a Zune pass. It would be even more compelling still if we’re using a Zune pass to sync our friends’ playlists (that’s a new feature in Zune 2.5). That way, not only can we listen to whatever our friends are listening to but we can see what other people thought of those songs/albums as well. Might help us make a decision whether to buy it or not.

[Originally posted here]

 

What do you think? If you like the ideas hit the links above and add your comments. And add them as a comment to this blog entry as well.

-Jamie

[Also added to my Feedback lista]

Written by Jamiet

May 18, 2008 at 8:38 pm

Posted in Zune

Zunervision cometh soon!

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Remember back in February when I had my idea for Zunervision? Here it is again:

One of the coolest mashups I saw last year was TwitterVision. That’s where various Tweets from around the world are displayed on a map and you can actually watch the world is saying.

Would’t it be cool if you could do the same thing with "the last song that someone listened to on their Zune" or "the last podcast someone listened to on their Zune" or "the last video that someone watched on their Zune"? Throw that stuff onto a map along with wherever that person happens to be located and watch what people around the world are listening to or watching.

[I posted this idea to the Zune forum as well and it created quite a discussion]

 

Well anyway, with the recent Zune 2.5 release the Zune team went a long way to enabling Zunervision, they now let us record our location. Observe:

image

Hence, my location is now exposed on my Zune profile.

 

So, now that the Zune team know what we’re listening to and they know where we are I would expect Zunervision to become a reality very very soon.

-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

May 18, 2008 at 5:41 pm

Posted in Zune