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MSN SideGuide To Be Used For Free Wifi

Microsoft has released the first version of MSN SideGuide, the first version of a special sidebar users install in order to be able to use free ad-supported wifi networks it is testing in Portland and Oakland. The sidebar contains links to related MSN content, a small ad, MSN/MSNBC headlines, another small ad, and a Windows Live Search box at the top.

The idea is that in order to use the free wifi, you must install and run SideGuide. SideGuide analyzes what you are browsing and displays relevant links and targeted advertisements on the side of your screen in order to pay for the wifi (paying for it both with the ads in SideGuide, and Microsoft-provided ads behind the links you may also click).

SideGuide takes away a portion of the left or right side of your screen while you are browsing the web, and hides itself if you run a program other than a web browser (currently, it detects IE, Firefox, Opera and Safari browsers). If you close SideGuide, you lose your wifi connection.

I wonder, if the concept proves successful, some ISPs would consider providing free or cheaper internet connections to users with similar products installed. Nobody likes the idea of ad bars on their screen, but this is less obtrusive than those giant banner ads older services used, enough so that it might be worth it for some.

September 20th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | MSN, General | no comments

Xobni: Turn Outlook Into A Social Network


Xobni is one of the cool startups to come out of the TechCrunch 40 conference, and after installing their software, I’ve come off pretty impressed. Xobni produces a free Outlook add-in (Xobni is inbox backwards) that appears as a sidebar while reading emails in Outlook.

The sidebar analyzes all your previous conversations with that contact, pulling out that person’s phone number from email signatures (if you don’t already have it) and linking the number to Skype so you can call that person. It also builds a list of people connected to that person (based on CCs and forwards), previous emails you’ve gotten from that person, and a list of files you’ve received from that person, as well as tracking who your most popular contacts are, what time they tend to email you, and how much you’ve been emailing back and forth lately.

All in all, there’s a lot of power here, and a lot of smart touches (like the fact that when you click on a past email, it opens in the sidebar, not taking you away from your current email). I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to see a list of your most popular contacts (currently, it just shows you a number when you click on an email, and I’ve only found my #7).

You can get a list of people you haven’t talked to into a while and it thinks you should get back in touch with. There’s a seperate analytics area it opens up that shows you how long it takes you to respond to emails (I’m up to 18 hours!), summaries, mail traffic, stats on your unique contacts over a period of time and other things.

There’s a lot of good stuff in there, and if you’re always looking for ways to improve Outlook, or you’re just bad at keeping track of your social relationships, be smart and go check it out.

Xobni runs on Outlook 2003 or 2007, and requires a beta invite code, which you can sign up for here.

Here’s a YouTube video of Xobni:

I’m also playing around with TechCrunch 40 winner Mint, a finances tracking site. I recommmend it as well.

September 20th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | OneNote, Applications | 2 comments