Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Archive for April 2009

“View all photos of Dave” is coming

with 2 comments

Back in January I posted a blog entry called Laundry list of wants for Windows Live wave 4 where I said:

Photos.live.com should aggregate and allow us to view a slideshow of all photos of a particular person. There should be a link to this slideshow from that person’s profile (if they choose to have it there)

Well, it seems someone might have been listening because yesterday the SkyDrive team announced the following feature (arriving in a few days time):


View photos of yourself and your friends

Coming soon when you visit your friends’ profiles you can view photos they’re tagged in by selecting “Photos of <your friend’s name>” from the menu under their profile picture.  You’ll see this entry point in a few days!


Awesome! I’m really looking forward to seeing this! I was very surprised and disappointed when this feature didn’t arrive in wave 3 but am now delighted that I don’t have to wait until wave 4 for it.

-Jamie

In the clubhouse: clubhouse, story, photos, skydrive

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Written by Jamiet

April 15, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Aardvark

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A couple of years ago I became an avid user of Any Question Answered, a service that invites you to pose questions via text message (i.e. SMS) to a merry band of paid answerers who would then send you back an answer. Great service, the only problem was that it cost £1 plus network service charges for every question – not exactly cheap.

Today I’ve stumbled upon a great new service called Aardvark

image

which does a similar thing but with three big differences:

  • The questions are sent to other Aardvark members (which of course means you have to be willing to answer questions yourself)
  • It can be accessed via Live Messenger
  • Its free!!!

Here’s the deal. You sign-up and it asks you to list topics (minimum of three) that you know something about. Thereafter you can send questions (max of 5 a day currently) to the service and it will go and search through all its members to find someone who would be best suited to answer (so far I’ve managed to find out that the best curry house in Twickenham is the Delhi Durbar).

At the moment you can’t sign-up immediately, instead you’ll be put on a waiting list. Fear not however, I’m in and I have a few invites left that I can send out so if you want one send me a private message (link is at the top of my Live Space) with your email address and your three chosen specialist subjects and I’ll send you an invite (if I have any left).

Cool stuff! One of those kinds of services that makes you say to yourself “Why didn’t I think of that?”.

-Jamie

In the clubhouse: clubhouse, messenger, story

Written by Jamiet

April 15, 2009 at 6:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Display the year of publication for a Spaces blog post

with 7 comments

One of the things that has irked me (and I’m being polite) about Windows Live Spaces since I started using it nearly three years ago is that only the day and month of a blog entry’s publication date gets displayed, the year is not as you can see here:

image Well today I found out, happily, that that need not be the case. It is possible to configure your Live Space to display the year as well.

All you need to do is head for http://<space-id&gt;.spaces.live.com/Options/General/ (mine would be http://jamiethomson.spaces.live.com/Options/General/) where you can set the date format to include the year as well:

image Perfect! Now all my blog entries have got the date on them and I am a much happier (easter) bunny.

 

-Jamie

Windows Live Tags: clubhouse, how-to, spaces

Written by Jamiet

April 14, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Live Search – Only in America

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What do the following all have in common:

  • Cashback
  • URank
  • Photo backgrounds
  • Real-time news
  • Mobile cinema listings
  • Mobile traffic updates
  • Mobile Map collections
  • Speech recognition
  • Fuel prices

If you thought “they’re all search services offered by Microsoft” then you’d be half right. The rest of the answer is “that are only available in America”.

Check it out…

 

Cashback wants your attention, but only if you live in the US

image

 

URank/Viveri looks like an interesting experiment but I wouldn’t know because they won’t let me in to see

image

 

I’d love to see some nice artistic backgrounds on my search screen but alas someone (probably someone in the US) has deemed that I can’t:

image

 

News is rather important wouldn’t you say? Sadly not important enough if you don’t live with Uncle Sam:

image

 

Over to Live Search for Mobile. If you’re in the US you get a very busy menu and speech recognition as well:

 image image

Not so anywhere else:

 image image

 

 

You would think the fact that Google has a lower share of search in the US than anywhere else in the world might wake Microsoft up to the fact that launching their services in more than one country might be beneficial. Clearly they haven’t realised that.

 

Come on Microsoft – if your search engine doesn’t give us features then you shouldn’t complain when nobody uses it!

 

-Jamie

P.S. The Windows Mobile screenshots shown here were taken using the rather spiffing (and free) MyMobiler.

UPDATE, 28th April 2009: I’ve just thought of another one. Live Search 411 is a search service which you use by calling it.Again, US only!

Written by Jamiet

April 6, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Web activities for Live Groups

with 3 comments

I’ve been using Twitter for a couple of years now and over that time the way I used it has changed quite a bit. Whereas I used to use it purely for sending out my own tweets and listening to what my friends were saying I’m now finding it much more fulfilling to use Tweetdeck to find out what other people are saying about things I’m interested in. Just in the last week I’ve been tracking what people are saying about the G20 conference, the Rugby league Challenge Cup, the Malaysian Grand Prix and the latest Leeds United match.

image

Tracking real-time news is what makes Twitter so compelling and that will only increase as more and more people climb on board and realise the power of hashtags and Twitter search for tracking information that interests them.

 

This realisation of why Twitter is going to be so important started me thinking about the similarities with Windows Live Groups; after all, the idea of WL Groups is to give people who have a common interest to congregate in a single place online. In my opinion it would make great sense to combine the two and allow us to view Twitter search results at a Group home page? Better still, allow us to track activity from multiple places around the web? That’s what led me to submit the following at https://feedback.live.com/default.aspx?productkey=wlgroups:

Allow us the ability to add web activities to a Live Group. These wouldn’t be the same as web activities on http://profile.live.com however, instead they would allow us to build activity feeds of content pertinent to the group. For example, http://gettanked.groups.live.com/ (a Scuba Diving group) could pull in activity from http://search.twitter.com/search?q=scuba.

As regular readers will know I believe there’s a lot of potential in Live Groups and adding this feature would, I think, make it even more compelling. There’s gold in those tweets, better to mine it than ignore it.

-Jamie

Windows Live Tags: clubhouse, story, groups, feedback

Written by Jamiet

April 5, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Building a Twitter clone : Live Framework

with 3 comments

In a recent blog entry I chastised (rather rudely I must admit) Mary-Jo Foley for her assertion that:

Microsoft could simply do a Twitter clone … and reap similar results

(http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=2436)

My point was that it doesn’t matter whether or not Microsoft could build a service with the same features, Twitter have already stolen a march because they got there first and already have the all-important footfall which is only going to increase thanks to the network effect.

Nonetheless I’ve been considering how one could build a near-Twitter-clone because it maps very well onto a technology that has been interesting me of late. That particular technology, the Live Framework (currently in beta), in concert with Windows Live Messenger collectively contain all the necessary pieces required to build a Twitter clone as I’ll explain.

Live Messenger has the notion of a personal status message (PSM) that is very similar to the notion of a tweet in that it is a short textual message that a user sets and is stored in a data centre somewhere. A user’s PSM is accessible using the Live Framework as ably demonstrated by Scott Lovegrove in his blog entry LiveFX + Windows Live ID Client SDK = Safer Program.

Whilst Live Messenger enables a user to have a personal status message it doesn’t store a history of them which is basically the whole premise of Twitter and that is where the ability to access the PSM via the Live Framework comes in. It would be eminently possible for a 3rd party application to implement a resource script that copied each new occurrence of a PSM to a data store somewhere within Live Mesh. That 3rd party application then accesses that data store (for which it has been delegated the authority to do) and aggregates all of the users’ PSMs on a website in exactly the same way that Twitter does.

The notion of “following” someone is already built-in – we simply follow our Live Messenger buddies. Given that Twitter currently has approximately 7million members where Windows Live has over half a billion this is one area where Microsoft already have the advantage.

I’m not saying all this would be straightforward but neither would it be the most complex service ever implemented either. If anyone wants to pay me and some friends to build it then get in touch 🙂

-Jamie

P.S. I wrote a blog entry Microsoft Presence. A rival to Twitter? back in September 2007 where I reasoned that Microsoft could build a Twitter-compete using Live Messenger. They didn’t do that and now its reall rather too lat!

Written by Jamiet

April 4, 2009 at 10:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Mary-Jo Foley shows stunningly inept judgement

with 13 comments

Mary-Jo Foley has commented into the potential Twitter purchase by debate by declaring that Microsoft shouldn’t buy Twitter because:

Microsoft could simply do a Twitter clone … and reap similar results

(http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=2436)

Does MJF honestly think that anyone (not just Microsoft) could whip up a Twitter clone and beat them at their own game? That assertion is, to me, just laughable. Building a Twitter clone would not be supremely difficult for a half decent group of developers but that is not the game here. Twitter spotted a niche, exploited it, and as such now have the membership and the mindshare that means a Twitter-clone will simply never compete. Innovation is the means by which companies succeed on the web, not cloning.

I take issue with quite a bit of what Mary-Jo Foley says and generally choose to keep my council however in this case I feel that she is so acutely wrong I am duty-bound to point it out.

If questioned “Should Microsoft buy twitter?” my answer would be “I have no idea”. If Microsoft DO make an offer though I hope the strategy is something other than “we have to stop Google getting their mitts on it”.

I think a better strategy for Microsoft would be to say to Twitter “We’ll buy a stake in you, you stay independent, but come over and run on Windows Azure!” That would stop Google getting them and buy Microsoft some much needed mindshare for their upcoming Windows Azure platform.

-Jamie

Written by Jamiet

April 3, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized