part of the Blog News Channel

Wherever You Can Find It…

Bruce Clay Inc.’s Lisa Barone writes about some things I’ve been talking about, and since I don’t see anywhere to leave comments, I’m responding here. Unless you like sitting in dark rooms, read her post, then return.

First off, regarding Windows Live Mail Desktop: It is beta software, and a lot of things have been improved since the build I tested. Still, like any software that uses the internet, firewall configurations are always tricky. I finally managed to make sure that my firewall let WLMD through, and I can use the product safely from now on, so don’t worry about that.

Funny you mention a desktop version of Gmail. I’ve been thinking the same thing.

Finally, regarding CelebFavorites: Besides getting some publicity for the service, and getting people to see how darn good the Live Local interface is, CelebFavorites is supposed to show people how easy it is for them to show off their favorite places, just like Eva Longoria can. I had no idea it was that easy, and I’ve had drinks with the people making the product.

I do think they did a crappy job getting the point accross. There should have been a big link at the top of the page saying, “Like this? You can share your favorites, too!” leading to a short walkthrough, with the ability to save and blog your favorites. There has to be someone at Windows Live whose job is to examine the ways they can take advantage of social networks and the blogosphere to create buzz on their products, and I hope they hire someone like that soon.

Anyway, enjoyed the post. I think at SES New York, I saw 150 people with Bruce Clay Inc. badges :-)

May 5th, 2006 Posted by | General, Live, Local, Mail, Windows | no comments

Microsoft Swearing Patent

Microsoft has filed for a patent for technology that detects and mutes out swearing. This could have some great applications, two of which come to mind immediately:

  • Xbox Live users could choose to turn it on to get rid of some of the annoying banter from 12-year olds.
  • Media Center users could get an uncensored audio feed to supplement live programming, with the swearing filter kicking in when kids are watching. This way, TV shows wouldn’t have to censor what people say, they could leave it up to the televisions, so long as those TVs have the technology.

Microsoft has a lot of interesting patents. Will we ever see them used?
(via Digg)

May 5th, 2006 Posted by | General, Media Center, Windows, Xbox, Xbox Live | no comments

Hosting sponsored by GoDaddy

Xbox 360 On South Park

I saw this, and Joystiq and Xbox 360 Fanboy also write about it. Wednesday’s South Park had the kids playing on an Xbox 360. Of course, they were using a Core System, with four wired controllers and a crappy TV, but considering the Cartman family budget, I’m not surprised. With a Premium system and wireless controllers, the same money would have netted him maybe two controllers, but at least Cartman would have the hard drive and backwards compatibility.

What does Ms. Cartman do for a living? Hook?

May 5th, 2006 Posted by | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | one comment

PlayStation 2, And Two Games, For Just $100!

This is just un-freakin-believable: Amazon/Toys”R”Us is selling the Sony PlayStation 2, plus the games Jak II and Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, for a paltry $99.98. According to SlickDeals, where this came from, Shipping is just $4.49 in the U.S., and you get any toy on this page for free with your order. I recommend the dancing plush Elmo.

I’m not a big fan of the PlayStation, as any reader knows, but I’m thinking this is too good a deal to pass up. Should I get it?

Also, the links are all affiliate links, since I’m not an idiot, and if you are going to post a deal like this, you might as well get something if anyone else likes it.

May 5th, 2006 Posted by | General | no comments

Microsoft’s 10-Gigapixel Photo

Microsoft is looking to create a system that can take skyline photos, that is, straight-on, zero-degree photos that show cities just as you’d see them from a hotel window. Microsoft Research is trying to get it done, making a system that can take hundreds of digital photos, stith them together, and compensate for environmental changes, creating single photos with 4-10 billion pixels, and distributed pictures that can contain tens of billions of pixels.

The Live Local team is so smart about this. Yes, Research is working on it, but they’ll be the beneficiaries if it pays off. Microsoft’s goal seems to be to beat Google by including more views than anyone else is even thinking of. If this works, Live Local users will have:

  • Map view
  • Ariel/Satellite view (what you’d see from space)
  • Bird’s Eye view (3/4 views, showing buildings in from above and the side, giving a better sense of depth and distance, what you’d see from a helicopter)
  • Street view (what you’d see from a car on the street)
  • Skyline view (what you’d see from a window)

I’m just waiting for them to point one of those car cams up, and give us “Tourist view”. Seriously, they are coming up with great ways to extend the service, and eventually, people are going to realize that in many respects, Live Local is beating Google Maps on interface and features.

Michael Cohen, a scientist at Microsoft Research, is trying to create a photo this summer that will contain 10 billion pixels.

He’s already done 4-gigapixel shots of downtown Seattle.

Cohen’s work, dubbed Big Panoramas, is an attempt to marry Internet mapping and high-resolution photography. With 4 billion or 10 billion pixels, a single photograph will contain several square miles of real estate in accurate detail. In the Seattle photo, users can zoom in on windows on different buildings, or zoom out to get a view of the entire skyline.

The end result is something akin to the satellite images on services like Google Earth. The difference is that the angle is more familiar. The pictures provide the panorama you might see staring out of a window on a building, or from standing on the sidewalk. Satellite images capture only the unfamiliar bird’s-eye views of rooftops.

The camera is not held by a person. It sits in a motorized rig and the angle of the rig and camera are controlled by a computer.

(via Bink)

May 5th, 2006 Posted by | General, Google, Live, Local, Windows | no comments

Windows Live QnA

Gary Price writes about Windows Live QnA, an upcoming Live service that allows users to ask questions and get answers, much like Google or Yahoo Answers services. You can sign up to be added, at some point, to the beta, over here. Here’s what Microsoft told Gary:

Windows Live QnA Beta lets you ask any question and get the 411 from people who have the answers you’re looking for. Everybody’s an expert on something–including you–so tap into that collective brain power and contribute your own.

According to Gary, QnA will be free, unlike Google Answers. Paul Miller wonders aloud if Microsoft will properly leverage all the other elements of the Live platform, like Live Messenger, to get important questions straight to the people most capable of answering them, like a virtual reference desk.

I saw this service, then called CQA (Community Questions and Answers) back at Search Champs in January, so I’m not at liberty to say anything more. What I will say is that integration and question targeting was a really big deal at the product session then, and that there are some interesting twists about this service that you’ll find out in the future. Keep watching this space.

May 5th, 2006 Posted by | General, Live, Windows | one comment

links for 2006-05-05

May 5th, 2006 Posted by | Bookmarks, General, Security, Vista, Windows | no comments

Vista On PSP… Sorta… Not Really

Here’s a cool download: An “operating system” that runs entirely as a web page within a simple browser, thus letting you run something similar to Windows XP or Windows Vista on your PSP. A truly, brilliant alternative to hacking the mini-console with homebrew stuff. All you need are web pages the PSP’s browser can support.

The “program” looks pretty slick, with XP, XP Royal Blue and Vista styles, and contains a file viewer, calculator, calendar, web browser (redundant?), periodic table, stopwatch, text editor, and games (Battleships, Blackjack, Box-In, Breakout, 5 Card Stud, Hangman, Guess Country, Checkers, Connect 4, Demolition, Draw Poker, Face, Memory, Mind Reader, Minesweeper, Pegs, Pong!, Reflex Test, 8 Queens, Rock, Paper, Scissors, Squares, Switch Off, Tetris, Tic Tac Toe, Tower of Hanoi, Yahtzee), all running in “windows” in the faux-Windows interface, complete with desktop, task bar and start menu.
(via Major Nelson)

May 5th, 2006 Posted by | General | no comments

Microsoft Announces AdCenter And MSN Originals

At the seventh annual MSN Strategic Account Summit, Steve Ballmer took the wraps off Microsoft AdCenter, the new advertising platform for Microsoft’s many popular websites. Formerly in limited beta as MSN AdCenter, it will now serve 100% of Microsoft’s web properties, mostly MSN and Windows Live.

AdCenter is built around the idea of targeting demographic groups based on MSN’s user data, rather than targeting just keywords.

Microsoft adCenter is designed to ultimately provide advertisers with a one-stop-shop experience, whether buying search, contextual or display ads across a number of Microsoft properties. Ballmer will emphasize the importance to advertisers of accessing powerful tools and audience intelligence in an easy-to-use, accessible way, and that Microsoft’s network of online sites and services will deliver to advertisers a range of audiences with very different demographics that advertisers will be able to reach in one consistent way. Contextual advertising testing begins on MSN in the U.S. market this summer. In addition, the following Microsoft properties are preparing to launch ads in the near future: Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Spaces, Windows Live Safety Center, Windows Live for Mobile, Office Live and Office Online, and the Xbox® Web site

Andy Beal explains that Microsoft likely dropped the MSN name from AdCenter to position it as a seperate brand that serves a large content network. AdCenter, especially when it releases a contextual ad network, will be the real Google competitor, although it will rely on a large amount of traffic to MSN (the content site) and Windows Live (the web application site), and continued success of Xbox Live and other properties.

Microsoft also unveiled MSN Originals, a partnership to create rich viral marketing to be used throughout the MSN network. According to Business 2.0, it will include short-form shows, including one starring Tom Arnold. Microsoft has tried, and failed, at creating original content, and their experience with viral marketing has been a mixed bag of huge success at the small level (viral Xbox campaigns) and huge failure at a larger level (most MSN Search marketing, as well as:)

In 1996 and 1997 the company poured about a $100 million into shows like “475 Madison” (a dark comedy about a New York advertising agency) and “Project: Watchfire” (a serious look at U.F.O.’s) and mini-sites like Mungo Park (an outdoor adventure project) and the movie-obsessed Cinemania.

That last part is from The New York Times.
(via ThreadWatch)

May 5th, 2006 Posted by | General, Live, MSN, Search, Windows | no comments

Microsoft: Time To Buy?

Blogging Stocks wonders, now that Microsoft stock has reached a four-year low, is it time to buy in? I say, “Absolutely”.

A lot of people abandoned Microsoft in the last week, not having the stomach for a very expensive fight with Google. That means a lot of the long-term owners of MSFT, the ones who sat around and did nothing with their shares since the late 90s, are now gone, and more dynamic investments could happen with a newer class of investors.

Additionally, Microsoft may have a huge year, with reports of Vista and Office 2007 sales, as well as Playstation 3 shortages, the launch of AdCenter and the emergence of Windows Live, all having a good shot at boosting the stock price. If you wanted in on Microsoft stock, the time is now.

Of course, if Microsoft is going to fall apart in the future, this week is likely the beginning of the end. So keep that in mind…

May 5th, 2006 Posted by | Corporate, General | no comments

Get Free Office If You Buy From A Pirate

Microsoft is now offering a free copy of Office if you turn in whoever sold you a pirated copy of the suite. Just send in the receipt, the counterfeit CD, and details of the purchase, and you get the real thing. What does this really mean? If you see a deal somewhere for Office at an absurdly cheap price, buy it, and if it is no good, turn it in for the real one. What it really means is no risk on too-good-to-be-true deals.

Microsoft has the same deal if you buy a PC pre-loaded with Windows that doesn’t validate.
(via Information Week)

May 5th, 2006 Posted by | Applications, General, Office | no comments

Windows Live Celebrity Favorites

Windows Live Local Celebrity Favorites
(click to enlarge)

The MapPoint blog announces a new Windows Live Local mashup service: Celebrity Favorites. They interviewed a bunch of famous people, asking them about the places they love to frequent in their hometown. The celebs and cities are:

  • Jeff Bridges — Santa Barbara
  • Stacy Keibler — Washington, D.C., and Baltimore
  • Anna Kournikova — Miami
  • Eva Longoria — San Antonio
  • Alex Rodriguez — New York
  • Matt Leinart – Los Angeles
  • Brittany Murphy – Edison, NJ
  • Brad Paisley – Nashville, TN

Pretty cool idea, and less a waste of your time than Gawker Stalker (although far less titillating). If you are celebrity obsessed (I’m not), this could be just your thing. The point is to show that you can do the same thing. I took ten minutes, and I made my own tour of places in New York. You want to see it?

Just click this link

Number nine is my favorite, obviously. See how easy that is? All Windows Live Local needs is to create an embeddable IFRAME, and any blogger will be able to share something like this, witha single click, just like we share videos. PLEASE give me that feature, pretty please?

May 5th, 2006 Posted by | General | no comments