Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Archive for February 2012

Thoughts on latest SkyDrive news

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Microsoft have announced some big changes coming to SkyDrive. Liveside have posted a decent summation of the confirmed and unconfirmed features, the headline items are:

  • Paid storage up to 100GB
  • Metro-style app for Windows 8
  • Desktop client for Windows (possibly MAC as well)
  • Windows 8 filepicker integration
  • Remote access to files stored on PCs
  • URL shortening service
  • 300MB file upoad via SkyDrive.com
  • 2GB file limit via Windows Explorer
  • Mesh and SkyDrive are becoming one

As ever this raises more questions than it answers (no bad thing). My questions:

  • When does it all launch? When will I be able to get 100GB synced from my Windows 7 PC?
  • Will the desktop client work on Windows-On-ARM (WOA)?
  • I currently have 5GB of free Mesh storage plus 25GB of free SkyDrive storage. Will I then get 30GB of free storage when SkyDrive and Mesh get merged? If not, what happens if my total current content exceeds 25GB?
  • There are strong rumours (which I believe) that a new music service from Microsoft is on its way (again Liveside has the goods). Is this going allow you to play music that is stored on SkyDrive?
  • Will I be able to access that stored music from my XBox and Windows Phone?
  • Will my Zune Music Pass (which I love) still work?
  • Will SkyDrive.com have an integrated player for my audio/visual files stored up there?
  • Will there be a music-oriented way of navigating my music that is stored on SkyDrive.com (i.e. one that searches music only, doesn’t present my collection as a folder hierarchy, one that is as pretty as today’s Zune Desktop client?)
  • Will my owned music appear alongside my Music-pass-rented music?
  • Will their music marketplace be integrated into SkyDrive.com?
  • Can I share my music with my family? How many people can I share it with?
  • Will they offer analytics on the URL shortener? I still use bit.ly a lot for the links I share on Twitter precisely because it tells me how many people click that link.
  • What happens if the amount of stuff I have stored on SkyDrive is greater than the available space on my device? Can I choose which music files get synced and which do not?
  • How about podcasts? Can I store my podcast subscriptions online and will they be downloaded into my SkyDrive without my having to turn on one of my machines?

Hopefully all will be answered before too long!



Written by Jamiet

February 23, 2012 at 11:18 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Search engines, Schema.org and Windows 8 contracts. A match made in heaven?

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As most folks reading this blog post will know the forthcoming version of Microsoft Windows (“Windows 8”) is a massive overhaul of the well-known Windows interface and there are many accompanying changes to the underlying machinations of the O/S too. The most interesting change to me is the introduction of contracts which I would describe simply as “a mechanism for an app to exchange data, any data, without knowing anything about the app it is exchanging it with”. If you want to know more then here are some resources:

I was particularly pleased to read yesterday that Mozilla are planning to build a version of their Firefox web browser for Windows 8 and they explicitly cited contracts as a feature that they wanted to take advantage of:

Firefox on Metro, like all other Metro apps will be full screen, focused on touch interactions, and connected to the rest of the Metro environment through Windows 8 contracts.

If you dig deep into that Build conference session recording that I linked-to above you will learn that Microsoft are advocating http://schema.org (blog) as a data schema to define the data that your app wants to make available to other apps. Why is this significant? Simply because if two apps use a common data model then those two apps can talk without knowing anything about each other. As a simple example, imagine if Flickchart (a service that allows me to build a list of movies that I want to see) made a Windows 8 app; that app could use the Schema.org definition of a Movie to pass details of such a movie to (say) a Lovefilm app which I could then use to start watching the film immediately. I don’t have to copy and paste a film name or do any typing – the two apps simply exchange structured data on my behalf. Maybe its the data geek in me talking but I think that is fantastically compelling.

The area that I believe stands to benefit most from contracts is web searching. Imagine a web search app that was able to associate a Schema.org data type to every single search engine result – I as the user could instantly share a search result with any app that can consume that data type. I hate using cliches but the possibilities that this presents are near-endless; here is a quick brainstormed list of scenarios that this technology could enable:

  • Search for a restaurantand instantly pass the information to an OpenTable app that I can use to book a table
  • Search for a songand instantly pass it off to a Spotify app which downloads and starts playing it for me
  • Search for a placeand instantly pass it off to a direction mapping app
  • Search for a TVSeriesand instantly pass it off to an app offering a TV subscription service
  • Search for an eventand instantly pass it off to my calendar
  • Search for a Photograph and instantly pass it off to a Photobucket app

Those are some simple ideas but I hope they serve to demonstrate the potential of Windows 8 contracts in concert with a search engine. Exciting stuff I hope you will agree – I can’t wait to take contracts for a spin, hopefully that will be just a couple of weeks away.

Oh, did I mention that contracts are coming to Windows Phone too?

App-to-App communication. Because Windows Phone 8 apps, like Windows 8 apps, are sandboxed from each other, this new system will provide a Windows 8 contracts-like app-to-app communications capabilities


Written by Jamiet

February 14, 2012 at 9:16 pm

The You Centric Web (Personalisation 2.0)

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“The You Centric Web offers an inversion of today’s web, placing the user at the centre and in full control of the overall experience. It promotes discovery, celebrates serendipity and offers a personalised path through the oceans of data, content and experiences that the modern digital society has to offer. The technology required to deliver the You Centric Web is beginning to appear now, but we have further to travel before it can reach its full potential. As a society, we will have to shift our expectations of how the digital world can augment the physical world and service and content providers will need to plan for and deliver on the potential of this connected, intensely personalised world as well as work hard to win the trust of consumers by placing them at the centre and protecting and respecting their rights.”

Interesting stuff!

Written by Jamiet

February 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized