Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, words and deeds

Archive for June 2008

SkyDrive API revisited

with 8 comments

On 20th August 2007 I wrote a blog entry called "What would you put in a SkydriveAPI?" which was written in response to Angus Logan’s question:
What APIs would you want to see for SkyDrive?
That is consistently one of my highest visited blogs because at the time of writing it comes up as the first result if you do a search for "Skydrive API" on Google. Clearly people are searching for information about a SkyDrive API so clearly one is desired.
 
Here we are over 10 months later and the expected Skydrive API has not yet materialised. My suspicion is that the impending developer-focused releases of Live Mesh has stalled a Skydrive API because the two cover very similar ground (i.e. cloud-storage, file-collaboration).
 
In my blog entry of last year the respondents and I compiled the following list of "wants" for a cloud storage API:
  1. Store documents created using traditonal desktop software (e.g. MS Office) directly to cloud storage
  2. Store documents created in other online software (such as Google Docs) in cloud storage
  3. Embed cloud storage viewers into social networking sites and other websites
  4. Access cloud storage from rich clients on a mobile phone
  5. Synchronise traditional hard drive storage with cloud storage. This includes the hard drive on my smartphone.
  6. Play media stored in cloud storage in the media players I have on my PC
  7. Sync my Zune directly with media store in cloud storage
  8. The ability to write a plugin to backup Windows Home Server to cloud storage
  9. Would like cloud storage to act like a normal drive in My Computer
  10. Have a sync tool like Groove
  11. Very important to support 64 bit

[N.B. In all of these cases I have substituted the term "SkyDrive" with "cloud storage" because that encompasses both SkyDrive and Mesh which is what I am comparing in this blog entry]

The question I now find myself asking is "How much of this list will be provided by a Mesh API?" Even writing as I am prior to the release of such a thing I strongly suspect that a Mesh API  will encompass all of the above requirements. Equally, I believe that SkyDrive will be exposed as a "virtual" device within Live Mesh thus SkyDrive effectively becomes the publicly-available portion of Mesh and http://skydrive.live.com becomes the window into it. Hence, the Mesh API will be all we need to interact with SkyDrive – the need for a SkyDrive-specific API has disappeared.

So, my supposition is that we will never see a SkyDrive API. Do you agree?

-Jamie

Windows Live Tags: clubhouse, mesh, skyDrive, story, API

Written by Jamiet

June 30, 2008 at 3:28 pm

Posted in Live Mesh

Windows Live for Windows Mobile update

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About 6 weeks ago on 16th May I posted a blog entry about Windows Live for Windows Mobile where I said that it didn’t work on my phone. Today I was told (thanks Mike) about a blog that the team building Windows Live for Windows Mobile have set up at http://blogs.msdn.com/wlfwm/ (RSS feed) where it was stated on 24th June:

With more people using the client we received few reports from people who ran into problems on their devices especially newer ones with faster processors. Basically the device appears to hang after installing the client.

Since we cannot let our users run into these issues, we decided to pull off the package from the download site and investigate further.

You are not going to wait much longer to get the new version of the client! Wahoo! We are in the final stage of testing and expect to be ready to make the client available for download by early July.

Great news. And they are keeping their users informed via a blog as well – great to see.

-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

June 29, 2008 at 10:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Should I be aggrieved at an email account left open?

with 4 comments

Approximately three years ago I terminated the service I was receiving from my ISP Blueyonder (whose website now redirects to http://www.virginmedia.com/). There was nothing wrong with the service I hasten to add – it was just time to move on.
 
Fast forward to today and I’ve been contacted by an old friend who questioned why I hadn’t been answering her emails. I said to her I hadn’t received any emails from her and after a short discussion it turned out that she had been mistakenly emailing my old Blueyonder address. The trouble was, she didn’t know that I wasn’t there anymore because the email account was still alive and well, receiving email, even though I stopped paying them a long time ago. I’m rather aggrieved at it…who knows who has been emailing me and what I have missed in the last three years just because people didn’t receive the usual email returned in failure with the message "There is no email account at this address".
 
Here’s my dilemma, I’m not really sure where I stand here. Are ISPs obliged to close down email accounts when people leave their service. I never actually asked them to close it down – I just assumed it would happen. Do I have cause for complaint against Blueyonder (even though they don’t exist anymore?).
 
What do you think?
 
-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

June 27, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Will twitter become as ubiquitous as other forms of communication?

with 2 comments

A quote for you.
 
"If [Twitter] can get the platform stable, I believe they will eventually become as ubiquitous as email, instant messaging, sms and other forms of communication." – Mike Arrington
 
I think that’s bulls*** personally. I presume that "other forms of communication" includes the telephone and in my opinion Twitter is never going to get the penetration that that particular technology has. Not in my lifetime anyway. I don’t even think it will scale the heights that instant messaging and SMS have. I DO believe that these technologies will converge into a commodity market and eventually the debate about whether to use the phone, Twitter, IM, SMS or any other communication medium will be a moot one. Its what we communicate that is important, not how we communicate it.
 
Like all good things that are open to debate Mike’s statement is also open to interpretation not least because he didn’t give a timeframe. Just for fun I’ve set myself a reminder in my Live Calendar to come back here on a future anniversary of this blog entry and see if Mike is proved correct. Or not.
 
By the way, catch me on twitter at http://twitter.com/jamiet
 
-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

June 25, 2008 at 10:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One storage volume per LiveID

with 4 comments

I have heard a lot of talk lately coming out of Microsoft that they want to unify all their Live services into one cohesive whole. In other words, there are less seperate properties like Spaces, Hotmail, Office Live Workspaces etc… and instead you are just a user of Windows Live.
 
The upcoming change to the Windows Live header that Liveside talked about is a pointer to this.
 
Great, go for it. I can’t wait to see it.
 
Another way that they can unify all their services is to provide one single amount of storage per Live ID. Currently my Live ID gives me access to the following cloud storage sinks:
  • 10GB on Hotmail
  • 5GB on Skydrive
  • 5GB on Mesh
  • 5GB on Office Live Workspaces

That’s a total of 25GB of storage in the cloud. Instead of segregating that storage over different properties would it not make sense to just give me a single 25GB cloud storage space which is then shared between all the different properties? I would then want to know how much was being used by each of the properties so I can envisage something like this:

live_cloud_storage_usage2.JPG 

That makes much more sense to people that have been brought up on Windows. I have a desktop computer that has a finite amount of total space on it but I’m not limited to only using a certain amount of it for (say) Excel files. Should the same not be true of the cloud as well? 

Can we have this Microsoft? Will it make a difference if I ask really nicely?

-Jamie

P.S. I submitted this idea to http://feedback.live.com and if you agree you should do the same. I also added it to my feedback lista.

Written by Jamiet

June 24, 2008 at 11:26 am

Posted in Windows Live

It aint whatchya do its the way that your friends do it

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When I think of success on the world wide web I think of two companies that, as far as I’m concerned, have come to define it. Google and Amazon. I know others have had massive impacts too (e.g. Yahoo, Salesforce, AOL, MySpace) but those are the two that I would always hold up as being beacons of the first decade of the web. They have both pioneered their particular fields:

  • Google make money by showing you advertisements pertaining to what you are looking at be it via Google Search or AdSense. For example, search for a kettle on Google (http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=kettle&meta) and I see advertisements from people that want to sell me kettles. Simple but effective.

image

 

  • Amazon make money by flogging you stuff and a large part of that success is down to their recommendation engine which shows you products you will probably like based on what you have bought before.

image

 

Both are great models and both have brought tremendous success and at a higher level we can see some important commonality between them. Both Google and Amazon are successful because they deliver to you web pages that are based on what YOU do on the web. Keep that in mind next time you’re browsing the web because its a very powerful concept.

I believe that in the next incarnation of the web we will see a seismic shift. Online companies will deliver you web pages that are based not on what YOU do on the web, but what your FRIENDS do. Although it may not seem it (and we may not like it) collectively our choice of friends and thus the behaviour of those friends probably defines us just as much as our own behaviour does. Moreover, we will see a shift to the notion of affinity groups i.e. groups of people that are all interested in the same thing. Let me give you an example to show you what I mean.

I’m a big fan of a band here in the UK called The Charlatans; I’ve followed them for years and have some friends that I initially met in online chatrooms simply because we were interested in this same band. If the likes of Google and Amazon knew that I was part of a Charlatans affinity group then they could show advertisements or recommendations to me based on the behaviour of other people in that group. Say if the band released a new DVD and some other people in the group bought it Amazon could be pretty sure that I’d want it too (and they would be right) and that could become one of my recommendations. Amazon can now know things about me without me even visiting their site and that is really powerful.

That is why all of the social networks du jour all offer the ability to define groups to which we can subscribe. Facebook do it. Google are surreptitiously doing it with Friend Connect. Amazon don’t do it yet but they will – expect an announcement about an Amazon social network before the year is out. Groups are going to big business in the next few years of the web and there is a huge opportunity for whoever manages to leverage groups better than the next guys.

-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

June 23, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

What Mesh could bring to Zune

with 6 comments

If you read regularly then you’ll know I’m very interested in Mesh and Zune and have talked a lot about both in isolation so today I turned my thoughts to what benefits Mesh could bring to my Zune experience if the two were working together. As a result I posted some suggestions up on the Zune forums. Here they are for anyone that may be interested:

 

I would like the whole of my Zune experience to work atop the Live Mesh infrastructure that is currently getting implemented. Given that Live Mesh is a synchronisation platform there would be many benefits over and above what we have now:

  1. Ability to see (and administer) my media collection on any device (e.g. Zune, computer, Media Center, XBox, Mac)
  2. Currently to subscribe to a podcast I have to go to the computer on which I have Zune software installed. That’s not good because that computer is at home and I encounter podcasts that I want to subscribe to throughout the day. If the Zune experience were running on Live Mesh then I could subscribe to the podcast there and then and have it sync to my Zune device next time I plug in.
  3. Zune software is very CPU intensive, especially when syncing. Mesh syncs in the background during CPU idle time
  4. Plays by my friends can get synced to my Mesh even when I’m not "online". So, I can browse to the Zune application running on my Mesh at any time and see what all my friends are listening to in real-time
  5. I can buy songs on Zune Marketplace (or, in fact, anywhere) and save them to my media collection no matter where I am – just so long as I’m online.
  6. If my media collection is "on the Mesh" then it will be accessible to other applications as well, not just Zune. So, perhaps my media collection could end up on my phone as well, or be used by my Sonos system etc…
  7. Mesh should make it easier for me to view my friends’ playlists as well. If they existed on the Mesh then they just have to share those with me just as we will do with anything on the Mesh.

What do you think? Any other ways that Zune can leverage Mesh?

-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

June 18, 2008 at 6:55 pm

Posted in Live Mesh