First it was Yahoo! Mail that swallowed the AJAX pill only to become unusably slow and now it looks like Yahoo! TV is another casualty of this annoying trend.

Dave Winer writes

Yahoo says they improved Yahoo TV, but imho, they broke it. The listings page, which until today was the only page I knew or cared about (they just added a bunch of community features) took a few seconds to load, now it's an Ajax thing, and it loads as you scroll. Great. There's a delay every time I hit Page Down. Now instead of finding out if there's anything on in seconds it takes minutes. That's an improvement? 

In his post entitled Yahoo TV Goes 2.0. Argh.Paul Kedrosky writes

Well, Yahoo in its wisdom has launched a 2.0-ified version of its TV listings tonight, complete with an Ajax-y interface, cool blue colors, social rating of programs, etc. That's all swell, and frankly I wouldn't care one way or the other (other than they broke my URL for full listings), but the darn thing is sooooo much slower than the old listings. Tables have to get populated, drop-downs have to ... drop, and sliders have to slide while data creakily loads.

It's really irritating -- so irritating, in fact, that rather then wade back in to find out what time tonight the new Frontline episode is out about credit cards, I think I'll just watch it on the Frontline site.

Seriously, who's making these decisions at Yahoo? Don't they realize that slower websites cost them money regardless of how buzzword compliant it now makes them?


Erik Selberg, a developer on the Windows Live Search team, has a blog post entitled General disarray at The Big 3 where he writes

given the recent trends in query share. I’ll summarize for those who don’t want to read to the bottom of Danny’s post:
Greg’s take:

Ouchie. As Danny says, “[Not] a pretty picture for Microsoft … They haven’t held share. It’s drop, drop, drop.”

It really is remarkable how badly Microsoft is doing against Google. I never would have thought that, nearly four years after they started their “Underdog” project to build a Google-killer, Microsoft would not only be badly behind in search, but also actually losing market share.

Well, what did anyone really expect?

Let’s put some things into context. First, all of the above is brutally, painfully true. Google hired smart, self-starters who are into big risk / big reward.
Yahoo is just in a rough place. They’ve got Google dominating, and they’ve got us coming up from behind.
And then there’s us at Microsoft bringing up the rear with declining query share. Well… yeah. While our management set the goal of having relevance that beat Google after 2 years (then 3, and I believe 4 now…) it’s not realistic to think that it can be done quickly. If you ask Google, Yahoo, or the fine SEOs at WebMasterWorld or other such places, they’ll all say that Live Search has increased in quality over the years so that it’s much closer to Yahoo and Google. Not yet better, but no longer laughable. And yeah, we’ve done our own share of copying feature parity, and we’re starting to do a few things that cause Google and Yahoo to do the same (ok, noODP is a small feature, but it’s a start!).

Here’s the honest truth… Microsoft will continue to lose share until it can make something people chose versus just the IE default. That will happen when the average person starts to see as a bit better than Google. Right now, Google wins on brand (people like them a lot) and quality, so it’s to be expected that existing Yahoo / Live customers will migrate to Google than vice-versa and new customers will pick Google more than Live or Yahoo. Google is making people focus on features, which should tell people that they’re worried about how we’re catching up, and are going to put more people on their core products to keep and extend their lead. So it’s going to be a tough, tough battle for Microsoft to get there…

As I read Erik's post, one phrase kept repeating itself in my head over and over again; "Stay the Course...Stay the Course...Stay the Course". I find it amazing that people like Erik still think that competing with Google is about being a bit better than their search engine or having relevance that beats theirs in a few years. Competing with Google's search engine is no longer about search results quality, it is about brand and distribution. This is why even though the search engine that powers MSN Search or Windows Live Search has gotten better and better Microsoft's share of search engine market has dropped almost 50% since it announced that it would launch its own search engine to compete with Google's. Competition with Google really should focus on addressing both of these points.


The verb 'google' is now in the Mirriam Webster dictionary. That is the power of brand. Anyone who regularly uses the Internet be they young or old thinks Google is synonymous with search.

Anecdote: My girlfriend once told her kids we were takin them to the zoo and her seven year old jumped on computer and went straight to to fiind out what animals she'd see that day. 


The combination of the proliferation of search toolbars and a new generation of Web browsers with built-in search boxes (e.g. IE 7 and Firefox) have reduced the need for users to actually go to websites to perform a search. This means that it is now very important to be the search engine that is used when a user enters a search directly from their browser. Guess which search engine is the one used by your browser if you
  1. Are you a user of the Firefox browser?
  2. Are you a user of the Opera browser?
  3. Are you a user of IE 7 and have installed Adobe Acrobat?
  4. Are you a user of IE 7 and have installed the Java runtime?
  5. Are you a user of IE 7 and have installed the WinZip archive utility?
  6. Are you using a newly purchased Dell computer?
  7. Are you a user of the Google Toolbar?
Yes, the answer is Google in every case. So even if you are an Internet n00b who hasn't made up their mind about which search engine to choose, there is a large chance that the default search engine you end up using thanks to recent innovations in IE 7 and Firefox will be Google.

November 28, 2006
@ 09:27 PM

Steve Jones has a blog post entitled Want to be cool? Learn REST. Want a career? Learn WS where he writes

Out in the big wide world of the great employed of IT there are four dominant software players, these people represent probably the majority of IT spend in themselves and influence probably a good 95% of the total IT strategy out there on planet earth. Those four companies are SAP, Oracle, IBM and Microsoft.

These are the companies who your CIO goes to visit and sits through dinners and presentations on their product strategy, and what they are pushing is WS-* in all its ugly glory. This means that in 3 years time you 100% will have WS-* in your company, in a company you work with, or in a company you
want to work with. Sure you can argue that its harder and more difficult than REST, in the same way as you can argue that Eiffel, PHP or Ruby are more productive languages. Some people will get to use these language commercially, some people will get to use REST commercially.

Everyone will have to use WS-* commercially if they want to interact with systems from the major software vendors.

I'm not saying its right, just that its reality. The
best technology isn't the technical purest, the most productive or the easiest, its the one that the most people use and which has the widest acceptance and adoption. For shifting data across the internet this means its what SAP, Oracle, IBM & Microsoft say, its also what the various vertical standards (who the big boys aim to implement "out of the box") who have also all gone for WS-*.

The technical discussion is pointless, the commercial discussion is mute. But hey lets continue having the discussion on REST v WS because it makes us feel cool and trendy. Its about time that IT people realised that we need to have discussions based on commercial realities not on technical fantasies.

There's a lot to disagree with in that short block of text. I'll go by the numbers

  1. Contrary to what Steve Jones claims, folks at Microsoft are very interested in REST. On the one hand, you have people like Yaron Goland who is driving the Web Services story for the Windows Live platform who has shown a lot of interest in RESTful Web services and even JSON as a data format in posts such as Thoughts On Creating An Infoset For Windows Live Services Platform. You also have folks like Omri Gazitt who runs the group that is responsible for the Windows Communications Foundation (aka Indigo) looking at RESTful APIs like GData in his post XML --> JSON Conversion in Google Data API and Doug Purdy who's also in the WCF team who's spending his downtime after shipping WCF v1.0 implementing the Atom Publishing Protocol which is a RESTful API. Why would all these people at Microsoft be spending time looking at REST if they didn't think it was a worth investigating and adopting?

  2. Steve Jones's post gives the impression that developers will need to "learn" WS-* because it may be deployed in their enterprise. That seems quite unnecessary to me. The WS-* family of technologies are intentionally so complex that developers are best served by knowing how their Web Services toolkit works instead of the gory details of how that particular Web services stack selectively or just plain incorrectly implements SOAP, WSDL, XML Schema, and the rest of the WS-* stack. If you are a .NET developer then you just need to know how ASP.NET Web Services and now WCF works. If you are one of those poor souls who'll have to get disparate Web Services toolkits to interoperate with each other then stick to whatever the WS-I compliant mode is in your toolkit of choice when exposing services and pray that whoever exposes the services you have to consume has done the same.

  3. I also disagree with the implication that the technologies with the widest acceptance and adoption for moving data across the Internet will be WS-* based. Come on, the most popular Web service on the Web today is RSS/Atom feeds and that is as RESTful as it gets. In fact, perusing a list of Web APIs exposed by companies I seem to see a lot more RESTful or Plain Old XML over HTTP APIs than I see APIs based on WS-*. Perhaps Steve Jones meant to write intranet instead of internet?

Finally, even if your company has drank the WS-* kool aid it doesn't mean that RESTful APIs are anathema. I'm pretty sure that no one has drank the WS-* kool aid more than Microsoft but I still see a lot of AJAX [client side Javascript calling back to RESTful or POX APIs] and RSS feeds coming out of the company. A lot more than I see SOAP APIs now that I think about it. :)

Categories: XML Web Services

November 28, 2006
@ 08:56 PM

Tim Bray has a blog post entitled Choose RELAX Now where he writes

Elliotte Rusty Harold’s RELAX Wins may be a milestone in the life of XML. Everybody who actually touches the technology has known the truth for years, and it’s time to stop sweeping it under the rug. W3C XML Schemas (XSD) suck. They are hard to read, hard to write, hard to understand, have interoperability problems, and are unable to describe lots of things you want to do all the time in XML. Schemas based on Relax NG, also known as ISO Standard 19757, are easy to write, easy to read, are backed by a rigorous formalism for interoperability, and can describe immensely more different XML constructs. To Elliotte’s list of important XML applications that are RELAX-based, I’d add the Atom Syndication Format and, pretty soon now, the Atom Publishing Protocol. It’s a pity; when XSD came out people thought that since it came from the W3C, same as XML, it must be the way to go, and it got baked into a bunch of other technology before anyone really had a chance to think it over. So now lots of people say “Well, yeah, it sucks, but we’re stuck with it.” Wrong! The time has come to declare it a worthy but failed experiment, tear down the shaky towers with XSD in their foundation, and start using RELAX for all significant XML work.

In a past life I was the PM for XML schema technologies at Microsoft so I obviously have an opinion here. What Tim Bray and Elliotte Rusty Harold gloss over in their advocacy is that there are actually two reasons one would choose an XML schema technology. I covered both reasons in my article XML Schema Design Patterns: Is Complex Type Derivation Unnecessary? for a few years ago. The relevant part of the article is excerpted below

As usage of XML and XML schema languages has become more widespread, two primary usage scenarios have developed around XML document validation and XML schemas.
  1. Describing and enforcing the contract between producers and consumers of XML documents: An XML schema ordinarily serves as a means for consumers and producers of XML to understand the structure of the document being consumed or produced. Schemas are a fairly terse and machine readable way to describe what constitutes a valid XML document according to a particular XML vocabulary. Thus a schema can be thought of as contract between the producer and consumer of an XML document. Typically the consumer ensures that the XML document being received from the producer conforms to the contract by validating the received document against the schema.

    This description covers a wide array of XML usage scenarios from business entities exchanging XML documents to applications that utilize XML configuration files.

  2. Creating the basis for processing and storing typed data represented as XML documents: As XML became popular as a way to represent rigidly structured, strongly typed data, such as the content of a relational database or programming language objects, the ability to to describe the datatypes within an XML document became important. This led to Microsoft's XML Data and XML Data-Reduced schema languages, which ultimately led to WXS. These schema languages are used to convert an input XML infoset into a type annotated infoset (TAI) where element and attribute information items are annotated with a type name.

    WXS describes the creation of a type annotated infoset as a consequence of document validation against a schema. During validation against a WXS, an input XML infoset is converted into a post schema validation infoset (PSVI), which among other things contains type annotations. However practical experience has shown that one does not need to perform full document validation to create type annotated infosets; in general many applications that use XML schemas to create strongly typed XML such as XML<->object mapping technologies do not perform full document validation, since a number of WXS features do not map to concepts in the target domain.

RELAX NG is good at #1 but not #2 which is by design. Most of the folks who are interested in XSD are either WS-* folks who are building toolkits that map XML on the wire to in-memory objects or database folks implementing XQuery who also have to deal with strongly typed data. Neither category of developers/vendors are interested in RELAX NG because it wasn't designed to meet their needs. On the other hand, if you are designing an XML format from scratch and need a language/toolkit for validating the structure and correctness of your documents you definitely need to strongly consider using RELAX NG over XSD.


Categories: XML

November 28, 2006
@ 03:09 AM

Auren Hoffman of RapLeaf has a blog post entitled Why big high tech companies are losing the talent war where he writes

In today's hot startup market, it is essentially irrational to join a big company. That means that big companies are only attracting “B” and “C” players or they are attracting irrational A players. And they are losing all those great “A” players they hired in the dog days of 2002 (most of which now have fully vested stock-options).

Essentially, when the economy is good and massive amount of startup activity is happening, the big companies suffer. Just think about it…when you see the Google $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube, does that make you want to work more for a Google or for a potential YouTube? I venture to guess that you’ll want to go out there and work for startups like POSTroller and [Disclosure: Auren is an investor in POSTroller and is on the advisory board of and both companies are looking to recruit “A” players right now]

Now there are some rational “A” players that are still going to large companies. In order to recruit rockstar engineers, companies like Google significantly increase the pay and offer too many perks to list. And some people have their own reasons to join these tech companies. Niall Kennedy, a true “A” player, joined Microsoft last April because he wanted to be at the epicenter of the PC user experience. Like a scientist attracted to a university with great resources, Niall was attracted to Microsoft not to make a personal profit but to build true, long-lasting innovations. Unfortunately Niall left four months later when he realized corporate bureaucracy can stifle innovation.

I disagree with the core premise of this post but it did get me thinking about how to differentiate the typical employee at a big company like Microsoft or IBM from the typical person who joins a startup. After watching a couple of people leave Microsoft for startups, I think I've put my finger on the core difference between the kind of people you see toiling at a startup versus the ones you see as faceless cogs in a giant corporation. There are basically two kinds of people that you'll find a lot of at large software companies like Microsoft and IBM but rarely at startups

  1. The Indentured: For example, all those foreign workers on H-1B visas
  2. The Risk Averse: For example, the kind of folks with a spouse, kids and/or a mortgage.

After a few years of watching people, these are the actual differences I've seen between startup folks and corporate ladder climbing types. It's not some silly distinction as to whether the person is an "A" player or not.

An interesting consequence of this difference is the culture of the work environment. A place full of people who don't want to rock the boat because they are risk averse or indentured isn't the kind of place that will produce a project as fundamentally risky as YouTube. Even though all the big Web companies had online video offerings from MSN Video to Google Video, it was YouTube that won. How? By doing things that the typically cautious, risk averse folks in big companies like Google and Microsoft didn't consider like allowing user uploaded content and not bothering to have an "approval" process to ensure only appropriate videos showed up. YouTube was clearly a lawsuit magnet of the sort that would never fly at a big company.

That is the difference between startups and big technology companies


Categories: Life in the B0rg Cube

November 28, 2006
@ 02:49 AM

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has a blog post entitled Complicated Decisions where he writes

There is also genuine concern for the fate of the Iraqis if we leave.  Yet, according to this opinion poll, 7 out of 10 Iraqis want us to pull out.

And so the decision about leaving Iraq can be boiled down to this:

1. American troops are dying.
2. It’s impossible to know if national security is best served by staying or leaving.
3. 7 out of 10 Iraqis want us to leave.
4. We have accomplished all that we KNOW we can accomplish. Anything else is guessing.
5. Iraq diverts resources from our higher priorities.

It’s impossible to know the RIGHT answer about Iraq. But it has become simple to know the RATIONAL path. Unlike a financial investment, where you might be willing to invest in a high risk/reward situation, you can’t diversify war. If the payoff isn’t obvious and predictable, the rational thing to do is pull out and minimize troop casualties. Any other path is just guessing.

Your disagreement is invited.

Back in 2003, I wrote a couple of blog posts where I disagreed with the plan to invade Irag because it set a bad precedent. The current state of affairs with almost 3,000 dead and over 20,000 injured U.S. troops along with the claim of over half a million Iraqis dead is worse than anything I imagined. Now that the invasion has happened I find myself unable to agree with either of the major sides in the U.S. debate on what the next steps should be.

On the one hand, there are the Cut and Run arguments such as what Scott Adams has made above which I mostly agree with. Except that it is quite likely that the situation in Iraq will likely devolve into a civil war and wholesale ethnic genocide if U.S. troops leave. Given that the U.S. invasion is the catalyst for the current state if affairs, I strongly believe that the U.S. has a responsibility to fix the country it has turned into a frightful warzone. On the other hand, the Stay the Course arguments have failed to sway me because it is quite clear that the situation in Iraq is more complex than the sound bites on Fox News would have one believe. Sometimes it seems there are five or six different sides battling it out; U.S. troops, Al Qaeda operatives, Sunni militia, Shi'ite militia, Iraqi government troops and foreign troops from neighboring countries. It is unclear to me exactly how the Stay the Course folks quantify victory in such a situation. Today I walked past a TV and saw some pundit on MSNBC asking which side the U.S. should fight alongside in the Iraqi civil war as if picking what outfit to wear to the prom. 

I've begun to lean more towards Scott Adams's position although I have difficulty with the U.S. initiating this bloodshed then just walking away from the results of its actions. What are your opinions on the next course of action the U.S. should take?


Categories: Current Affairs

From the blog post entitled 1GB storage allocation for free Hotmail accounts is live! on the Hotmail Windows Live Mail team's blog we learn

1GB storage allocation for free Hotmail accounts is live! If you are new to Hotmail, then your account is created automatically with 1GB storage allocation. All existing accounts are at 1GB. To see that you would need sign out and sign in again. The storage meter bar in our classic UI would show 1000 as the max number. If your account is migrated to Windows Live Mail then your storage allocation is 2GB.

This is great news for the hundreds of millions of people with Hotmail accounts. Kudos to the mail team on making this switch.


Categories: MSN | Windows Live

November 27, 2006
@ 05:02 PM

Every once in a while I read something in a blog I find so ridiculously empty of content and contradictory that it makes me question the entire human race. Most of the time it's usually someone spouting their opinion on politics which sends me into this pit of despair. Today, it is Kathy Sierra and her post Why Web 2.0 is more than a buzzword where she writes

But to say it means nothing (or WORSE--to say it's just a marketing label) is to mistake jargon (good) for buzzwords (bad). Where buzzwords are used to impress or mislead, jargon is used to communicate more efficiently and interestingly with others who share a similar level of knowledge and skills in a specific area.
So... back to "Web 2.0"--I'll admit that this one's trickier than most domain-specific phrases because it wraps many different--and big and ill-defined--concepts. But when Tim O'Reilly and Dale Dougherty (the guy who first coined the term) talk about Web 2.0, it represents something real and specific and meaningful. Over time, a lot of other people (especially those who've spent time around them, including me) have come to understand at least a part of what they've encapsulated in that one small phrase. "Web 2.0" may be the least understood phrase in the history of the world, but that still doesn't make it meaningless.
A problem with blogs is that it encourages people to not proof read what they write. On the one hand Kathy argues that jargon allows us to communicate more efficiently then in the same breath points out that "Web 2.0" wraps many different and ill-defined concepts together. That seems pretty contradictory to me. How is it communicating more efficiently if I say "Web 2.0" to Bob and he thinks AJAX and widgets while Jane thinks  I'm talking about social networking and tagging while I actually meant RSS and open APIs? We may be communicating with less words but since we are guaranteed to have a miscommunication, this efficiency in words exchanged is small compared to the amount of time we waste talking past each other.

I've made my peace with the idea that "Web 2.0" is here to stay and that it is such a wide umbrella term that it is effectively meaningless other than a catch all to describe Web trends have become popular over the past two years. However that doesn't make it worthy of being elevated to "professional jargon" unless your profession is slinging bullshit to VCs or trying to wade through which bullshit knockoffs of YouTube and you want to be investing in.


We are almost feature complete for the next release of RSS Bandit and it is about time we started getting some feedback from our users. You can obtain the installer from The major new features and bug fixes are listed below. There will be a comprehensive list of bug fixes and new features in the announcement for the final release.

UPDATE: There was an issue when upgrading from v1.3.0.42 to the Jubilee beta which is now fixed.

New Features New Features in Progress
  • Podcast inbox - This will be the similar to the podcast inbox of applications such as Doppler Radio or Juice Receiver which will allow users to keep track of pending and downloaded podcasts.
  • Revamping the search feature - We're moving the implementation of feed search to Lucene.Net from our custom feed search implementation which should make it faster and provide richer search options
Major Bug Fixes
  • Feed items appear in wrong feed folders - we now apply a set of heuristics to prevent this problem from surfacing ever again. I'm pretty sure this problem is due to bugs in HTTP Pipelining. However it is unclear whether the bugs are in the .NET Frameworks HTTP library, proxy servers that RSS Bandit is passing through or the Web servers that the application is fetching feeds from.
  • Relative Links in Atom 1.0 feeds appear incorrectly - now that this is fixed the links Tim Bray and Sam Ruby's feeds now work correctly
  • Atom feeds from the Blogger beta site show no posts when viewed in RSS Bandit - this was just a dumb bug on my part.
  • Sites with malformed cookies cause feeds not to be fetched - Specifically, fetching cookies from sites such as Windows Live Spaces results in the "An error has occurred when parsing Cookie header". Now we just ignore the error and soldier on.
  • RSS Bandit needs administrator privileges on first run - the fix for this was so esoteric it boggles my mind. 
  • RSS Bandit stops downloading feeds after a while - This was actually two bugs. The first was that the application stopped automatically downloading feeds if any of them timed out while being fetched. The other was that feeds with whitespace in the URLs were not being updated.
Major Bug Fixes in Progress

Categories: RSS Bandit

I don't really have much commentary on this but I thought this was still worth sharing. Earlier, this week Joel Spolsky wrote a blog post entitled Choices = Headaches where he writes

I'm sure there's a whole team of UI designers, programmers, and testers who worked very hard on the OFF button in Windows Vista, but seriously, is this the best you could come up with?

Image of the menu in Windows Vista for turning off the computer

Every time you want to leave your computer, you have to choose between nine, count them, nine options: two icons and seven menu items. The two icons, I think, are shortcuts to menu items. I'm guessing the lock icon does the same thing as the lock menu item, but I'm not sure which menu item the on/off icon corresponds to.

This was followed up yesterday by Moishe Lettvin who used to work on the feature at Microsoft and has since gone to Google to work on Orkut. In his post entitled The Windows Shutdown crapfest, Moishe gives his perspective on some of the problems he faced while working on the feature for Longhorn Vista.

My main problem with Joel's post seems to be that his complaint seems to already be addressed by Vista. Isn't that the icon for a power button right there on the screen? So the nine options he complains about are really for advanced users? Regular users should only need to ever click the power button icon or the padlock icon. 

Then again, we shouldn't let the facts get in the way of a good anti-Microsoft rant. :)


I just saw some article entitled Ten Worst Internet Acquisitions Ever which contains the following excerpt

10. Hotmail - acquired by Microsoft (MSFT) in 1998 for about $400 million. Hotmail was a second-tier free email service when Microsoft bought it and the acquisition did little to improve Microsoft's internet portal ambitions.

This looks like another example of journalists bloggers fail to do even a modicum of research. Since I'm being lazy, I'll just use the Alexa traffic details for MSN to debunk this silliness.  According to Alexa, MSN is the #2 site on the internet with over 84% of the traffic being to

It seems to me that Hotmail has contributed a lot in furthering Microsoft's internet portal ambitions. Then again, don't let the facts get in your way of thowing snarky comments at Microsoft. ;)


Categories: MSN

November 22, 2006
@ 07:02 PM

Nick Carr has a blog post entitled Eric Schmidt's tough talk where he writes

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been coy in discussing his company's ambition to create an online alternative to Microsoft Office. Just a few days ago, at the Web 2.0 Summit, Schmidt "played the semantic game" in discussing office suites, reported Dan Farber. Schmidt claimed "that Google is developing applications for just 'casual' use. 'We don’t call it an office suite. It's not targeted at the [Microsoft] Office – we never made that claim.'"

But a very different, and much more aggressive, Eric Schmidt appears in the Economist's new "World in 2007" issue. Schmidt contributes an article titled "Don't bet against the Internet," in which he makes a striking prediction. Next year, he writes, "we’ll witness the increasing dominance of open internet standards." These standards "will sweep aside the proprietary protocols promoted by individual companies striving for technical monopoly. Today’s desktop software will be overtaken by internet-based services that enable users to choose the document formats, search tools and editing capability that best suit their needs."

It's refreshing to see Google stop playing coy and be straightforward about their ambitions. At the Web 2.0 conference last year, Sergey Brin was coy about their plans when questioned by John Battelle. Given Google's significant market valuation they need to be making a lot more money than they are doing now to satisfy the markets. What better than targeting a multi-billion dollar business of a fierce competitor which is ripe for disruption? 

Now that their ambitions have been laid bare, I really hope this changes Microsoft's Office Live strategy. A lot  of  people expected Office Live to be a hosted version of Microsoft's Office suite. It is clear there is a pent up demand to bring office applications in the Web era, however it is unclear whether the simplistic division of desktop versus web applications is the right way to view this evolution. I believe the truth is that there is a continouom in which these applications should live and some applications sit better on the desktop end (e.g. word processing) while others sit better on the Web end (e.g. email reading). Ray Ozzie has said similar things in his speech at a recent Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting.

First a revamped UI for Microsoft Office and now Google jumping into the Web Office game with both feet? 2007 is going to be an interesting year for Office productivity software.


Jeremy Zawodny has a blog post entitled Yahoo's Peanut Butter APIs where he writes

Over the weekend someone sent me email that, among other things, said roughly: "I’m glad to see that APIs weren't on the list of things Brad Garlinghouse wants to get rid of. That means you're safe, right?"
Now, if you're one of the people who's asked me what I think about all this... here's my answer: Brad is very right about some things and terribly wrong about others.

A couple of us were chatting about the memo at lunch yesterday and I realized that if I was a Yahoo! employee my spider sense would be tingling like mad. I'd also be considering talking to my peeps at GOOG and MSFT to see if they had any openings I was interested in just to hedge my bets. There are the three things about the memo that made me come to this conclusion

  1. The memo recommends 15% - 20% head count reductions. This means that Yahoo! executives are contemplating firing one in five Yahoo! employees. How is it going to be decided whose job is safe and whose isn't? Layoffs are a demoralizing affair and often don't eliminate the right people especially since the really smart people know to desert a sinking ship instead of hanging around to see if they draw the short straw.

  2. A supposed senior VP at the company seems unable to tell the difference between the audience for Flickr vs. Yahoo! Photos or the difference between Konfabulator widgets and plugins for the Yahoo! IM client.Out of touch executives tend the bundle similar products in their mind and view it as redundancy without understanding the context in which they exist. This often leads to merging of products and the pissing off of customers. If Yahoo! actually goes through with the implied recommendations from this memo expect traffic drop offs by some of their users.

  3. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. If you look at Brad Garlinghouse's record it sounds like he is actually an example of the problem he rails about in his memo as opposed to the savior people in the blogosphere are calling him for penning the memo. See the article Yahoo's Misguided Manifesto which contains the following excerpt

    Here again, Yahoo! should start with accounting for Garlinghouse's performance. Under his watch, Yahoo! Messenger let a huge opportunity for voice-over-Internet protocol, or VoIP, slip through its fingers as eBay ( snapped up Skype. And Yahoo Mail dropped behind Google's Gmail as the most prestigious Web-based email domain.

    That performance has been more chunky than smooth, yet Yahoo! has gotten off easy. Earlier, Garlinghouse was CEO of VoIP leader Dialpad, which promptly spiraled into bankruptcy, but not before Garlinghouse laid off 90 of his 140 employees. A 2002 case study of Dialpad in the Harvard Business Review discussed how Garlinghouse struggled with a failed business model while rival Net2Phone won a $1.4 billion investment from AT&T as well as deals with Microsoft and Yahoo!.

    That's right, didn't Garlinghouse's group purchase OddPost 2.5 years ago and yet still hasn't figured out how to integrate the offering into Yahoo! Mail besides making a molasses slow Web-mail experience that is still in beta? Is this the guy whose going to save Yahoo! and show it how to integrate Flickr into Yahoo! Photos or into Yahoo! MyWeb. Good luck, you're going to need it.


November 20, 2006
@ 05:51 PM




If you are a 'Web 2.0' watcher by now you've seen the hubbub over the Peanut Butter Manifesto memo which is an Yahoo! internal memo authored by Brad Garlinghouse, a senior VP at the company. The memo is a rant against the typical list of woes that face big companies (e.g. the contradiction of being spread too thin yet having too many people, duplicative products and misaligned goals across the company). What I've found most interesting hasn't been the memo but instead the responses to it.

For example, in a blog post entitled Yahoo’s Brad Garlinghouse Makes His Power Move Mike Arrington views the memo as a clever attempt at an internal coup by Brad Garlinghouse. However even more interesting is the following comment in response to Arrington's post by someone named gullova which is excerpted below

Yahoo continues to get whipped by Google because its leaders can not get the product and engineering teams to focus on the right projects.

Witness Panama (the new ad system). Yahoo has been talking about Panama since early 2004. Yet the product they are launching is barely what Google had 2 years ago.

They threw hundreds of people at Panama, hurting other projects along the way, yet ultimately they are building the wrong product. Panama is far too focused he needs of search advertisers, which makes little sense since Yahoo’s search share has been shrinking since the day they dropped Google and launched their own search engine.

Had Panama instead been about display advertising, Yahoo could have at minimum increased monetization on Yahoo, which lets remind ourselves is still the largest site on the web and which they could monetize at 0% TAC (so its all gravy to the bottom line).

Yahoo is full of guys like Brad who can articulate themselves well and give great presentations. The problem is that the engineering team doesn’t listen to them, and the executive team doesn’t make them listen.

If they really want to get listened to, they should just shut down Panama and run Google ads instead. Its not a stretch to say they’d probably make more money.

The last sentence is the kicker for me. What if instead of competing with Google by funding its own search engine and advertising product, Microsoft partnered with Google like AOL has done? One of the pros of doing this are that it would free up a huge commitment of resources in competing with an industry leader that is years ahead of Microsoft to then focus on building applications that grow its audience directly which is then left to Google to monetize. Another possible pro is that the average revenue per user (ARPU) may go up with Google AdSense + AdWords being used to monetize Windows Live and MSN audiences as opposed to Microsoft's offerings. However a couple of minutes searching online doesn't given enough public data to determine whether this would be the case or not.

The cons are many. The first is that Microsoft would be seen to be admitting defeat if it switched to using Google's monetization engine although from a purely business perspective this isn't a significant con. Another con is that Microsoft would be enriching a competitor who is targetting one of its cash cows for obsolesence. See Google Docs & Spreadsheets, the JotSpot purchase and Google Apps for your Domain which are all attempts at attacking the success of Microsoft Office and related products like Microsoft Exchange. In this case, Microsoft would be guilty of being penny wise and pound foolish. The final con and perhaps the biggest problem with Microsoft going with the Google monetization engine is that it makes Microsoft entirely dependent on a single customer/supplier [who was also a rival] for a majority of the revenue from its online businesses.

When I started this post I tried to keep an open mind about the idea but by the time I finished writing it was clear that this is a bad idea. Funny how that happens.


November 18, 2006
@ 01:40 PM

Over the past few months a number of our users have written about issues getting RSS Bandit to work in Windows Vista. A description of the kind of problems that can occur can be found in blog posts like Eric Denekamp's My RSS reader (RSS Bandit) on Vista and Arlindo Alves' My RSS Bandit on Vista. We have tracked the problem down to an issue with the SandDock GUI components that are used by RSS Bandit. In the Jubilee release we'll be moving to the Infragistics GUI components which should not have this problem. Torsten and I are committed to shipping a beta of the next release at the end of this month at which time folks running Windows Vista can test to see if this addresses their issues.

We've also started prototyping the next generation user interface for the subsequent release of RSS Bandit tentatively codenamed Phoenix. This UI will be inspired by the Office 2007 user interface. I've uploaded a couple of screenshots to Flickr. Click the images below to see larger versions of the screenshots

The goal of the Phoenix release will be to make the application look and feel like a Vista-native app.

Categories: RSS Bandit

Nick Carr has a blog post entitled Flattened by MySpace where he writes

Roush worries that MySpace "is undermining the 'social' in social networking" by encouraging companies to establish their products as MySpace "members" which can become "friends" with other (human) members: "The company interprets the idea of a 'profile' so broadly that real people end up on the same footing as products, movies, promotional campaigns, and fictional characters - not exactly the conditions for a new flowering of authentic personal expression." In earlier social networks, like Friendster, sham profiles, including those set up for commercial purposes, were scorned as "fakesters." But MySpace, says Roush, "has been hospitable to fakesters from the beginning - so much so that it's now perfectly kosher for a company (or one of its fans) to create a profile for a fast-food chain, a brand of soda, or an electronics product."

Far from being liberating, MySpace "tends to herd its users into niches created for them by the mass market," writes Roush.

I've been having some conversations with folks at work about whether social networking is a fad or a trend that is here to stay. I often respond that it is both. It is similar to the "everything is a portal" phase during the late 1990s. Every website trying to transform itself into a portal was a fad but portals were a huge trend on the Web and it is quite telling that the most popular sites on the Web today are portals like MSN and Yahoo!.

I expect that social networking is going to follow a similar path. In a little while, we'll see the death of social networking being bolted onto every website on the planet (*cough* Amazon friends *cough*) and the permanence of a small number of social networking sites on the Web landscape. Where I may differ from others is that I doubt that MySpace is going to end up ruling the roost in a few years from now. My suspicion is that the site will be crushed by the weight of commercialism such as the kind of spam that I complained about a few days ago and which Niall Kennedy described in his blog post Social network marketing, spam, and gaming. I also don't think users will be able to put up with how obnoxious the user experience is with regards to advertising. On the other hand, I think that sites that emphasize the social in the user experience and respect their users such as Facebook has done will go a long way in the next few years. I liken it to the difference between the approach that Google took with advertising and commercialization in comparison to its portal competitors.


Categories: Social Software

I just stumbled upon a hilarious post by Pete Lacey entitled The S stands for Simple. It's one of those "It's funny because it is true" posts. Below is an excerpt

SG: Oh, there is no spec. This is just what Microsoft seems to be doing. Looked like a good idea, so now all the cool kids are doing it. However, there is this new thing. I think you’re gonna like it. It’s called the Web Services Interoperability Group, or the WS-I. What they’re doing is trying to remove a lot of the ambiguity in the SOAP and WSDL specs. I know how you like specs.

Dev: So, in other words, the specs were so bad you need a standards body to standardize the standards. Lord. Well, will this solve my interoperability problems?

SG: Oh, yeah. So long as you use a WS-I compliant SOAP stack, avoid using 8/10ths of XML Schema, don’t use any unusual data types, and don’t count on working with WebSphere and Apache Axis.

Dev: And is wrapped-doc/lit explained in there?

SG: Ermm, no. But that’s okay, you’re tools understand it. Most of them, anyway.

[Found via Mark Baker]

Go read the whole thing, it is funny as heck.


Shelley Powers has a good pair of posts critical of TechMeme, a technology meme-tracker. In her post entitled Techmeme tells us to Feed the Daddy she writes

Techmeme heard the recent discussion about sites not appearing, and responds with a post (at on how to show up on techmeme. The money shot:

Early on I noticed my system occasionally missed good posts from blogs that link back to my sites. So recently I extended my system to take referrals into account. Now if your blog or news article sends a moderate level of traffic to one of my sites, it will be evaluated for inclusion. Linking certainly doesn't guarantee you'll appear, since all posts are run though the usual tests for newsworthiness. In fact, extra steps to avoid spam are now in effect since faked referrals and splogs are already commonplace. So in summary, sending memeorandum (or Techmeme or…) visitors is another way to "enable discovery of your post".

In other words, if you puff up Gabe Riviera's empire, giving it lots of Google rank, as well as do all the marketing for him (such as techmeme's primary gatekeeper, Scoble, for whom Riviera sends special love and kisses), you might be able to 'buy' your way into being listed.
I'm not sure what the goals of TechMeme are but it seems rather weird to use link exchange as a mechanism for getting sites into TechMeme's index. I doubt that will improve the 'quality' of the service and instead seems like a rather tacky 'scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours" ploy. If the intent is to determine if the site has enough traffic to be worth including, why not look at its Alexa statistics or Technorati rank [as flawed as they are] instead of requesting a tit-for-tat link exchange? I think Gabe got some bad advice there.

In her followup post entitled Feed your Daddy Follow-up, Shelley adds

I wouldn't 'fix' Techmeme. What I would like to see is a growth in sites that provide topic aggregations, each using its own metrics and filtering algorithms. The more of these there are, the more likely we'll see a more fair distribution of attention, as well as a greater variety of stories, and more timely ones at that. In history, a way to discover an unbiased view of a fact or an event is to seek out at least three separate sources of information. The same can be said of topic aggregators. More than three; I'd actually like to see at least five.

One of the biggest problems with Techmeme is that it is asserted to be the 'ultimate authority' on what are the top stories in technology (or politics for Memeorandum). Yet according to it, 30% of us spend all of our time talking about Google, 10% of us discuss new startup funding, 10% talk about Microsoft, how it is, or is not clued; probably about 15% of us talk about some variation of gadget, typically iPod and now Zune; the rest talk about Techcrunch, Scoble, Second Life, or Techcrunch and Scoble in a Second Life. I could go on, but the point is that Techmeme is based more or less on seeded terms and seeded webloggers, and it can't shake that influence. As such, it provides an incredibly skewed look at the tech area of weblogging–completely ignoring most of what is truly technology.

Techmeme serves a purpose for those who are into Google and VC and San Francisco and startups and money, and Michael Arrington and Calacanis, and Scoble and the scene there, and that's fine. But that doesn't make it an authority on what's important, interesting, or even timely.

As usual Shelley hits the nail on the head. TechMeme is good at what it does, gathering the popular or interesting links among the Silicon Valley blogger crowd. However this is just one particular view into the technology industry and specifically the technology blogosphere. Most of the content isn't particularly relevant if you aren't a regular reader of sites like TechCrunch and Robert Scoble's blog.

Me, I personally would prefer a meme tracker that was heavy on bloggers like Sam Ruby, Tim Bray and Jon Udell instead of the large number of PR hacks and VCs that populate TechMeme. Where I disagree with Shelley is that I don't think the answer is more meme trackers each with their own bias yet which will likely overlap significantly. We already have that today, if you read sites like TechMeme, TailRank and Megite. I think the future is in personalization and not more news aggregator whose bias you can't control.


November 16, 2006
@ 08:23 PM

We've been dealing with spam from every angle in my household today. As I write this, my blog is being hit by by a wave of trackback spam and is blocking around five trackback spam posts a second. I just deleted over a hundred emails from YouTube in my email inbox. It seems some bright Eastern European chap decided to run some script that suggesting that I check out a video of his band over a hundred times. My girlfriend logged into MySpace and checked out her messages only to find that most of them were from 50 Cent asking her to add 40 Glocc to her friends list.

I can understand why young people have given up on email and migrated almost entirely to IM and hanging out on social networking sites. I get about 1 legitimate email for every 20 pieces of spam that make it through my spam filters in my personal email address. If not for the fact that I've had both email addresses since the last decade I'd just have given up on them. As people have found new ways to communicate electronically, the spammers have followed. I wonder if social software sites like MySpace and YouTube realize how badly spam impacts their user experience and how much it could destroy them if they don't get it under control?


Categories: Social Software

November 16, 2006
@ 08:05 PM


November 14, 2006
@ 05:24 PM

Tag clouds are already a pet peeve of mine because they are a poor navigational interface but it seems some people [who shall remain nameless] have found a way to make them even more annoying. If you look at the Wikipedia entry for Tag Cloud it clearly states

There are two main types of tag cloud, distinguished by their meaning rather than appearance.

In the first, size represents the number of times that tag has been applied to a single item. This is useful as a means of displaying metadatademocratically 'voted' on and where precise results are not desired. A good example of this is, which uses this method as a means of displaying the genre with which an artist or track has been tagged. about an item that has been

In the second, size represents the number of items that have been given that tag. This is used as a presentation of the popularity of the tags and can be indicative of the content they cover, although in most contexts such information is of little use. Interestingly, the more prominent the tag the less information it contains. An example of this is Flickr.

It seems some people have decided to invent a third kind of tag cloud; one where the size of the font is chosen at random and has no relation to the popularity or number of items with that tag. Seriously, WTF people?


Categories: Web Development

November 14, 2006
@ 05:11 PM

I just saw the article College frat boys in "Borat" movie sue filmmakers which states

Two of the college fraternity brothers shown guzzling alcohol and making racist remarks in the "Borat" movie have sued the studio and producers for fraud, saying filmmakers duped them into appearing in the movie by getting them drunk.
The scene at issue in the lawsuit depicts Borat conducting a drunken interview with three college frat boys in a motor home. As the four grow increasingly inebriated, they make racist remarks about slavery and how minorities in the United States "have all the power."
"Believing the film would not be viewed in the United States and at the encouragement of (the filmmakers), plaintiffs engaged in behavior they otherwise would not have engaged in," the suit says.

"They took advantage of those kids for their own financial gain," plaintiffs' lawyer, Olivier Tailleiu, told Reuters.

Fallout from the movie, Tailleiu said, cost one of the students a job at a major corporation and another "a very prestigious internship." The third student involved in the scene did not take part in the suit, he said.

I guess the saying should be updated from "Character is what you do when no one is looking" to "Character is what you do when you think the only peoplelooking are foreigners who live thousands of miles away". As I watched that scene in the movie, I wondered how many people I've known sound like that once you loosen them up with a few beers and no minorities or women are around. My guess is quite a few.

PS:The Borat movie is hilarious and biting satire at the same time, if you haven't seen it you need to watch that as soon as you get the chance.


Categories: Current Affairs

So I got a comment from someone complaining that my embedded video gadget doesn't work when embedding MSN SoapBox video from Internet Explorer 7. So I tried embedding his video on my Windows Live Space [not there now because it starts with a video of Adolf Hitler] and it worked using the same version of IE.

I was stumped for a second until I remembered a recent blog posting by Alex Russell entitled The Virtual Life: IE At Arms Length where he wrote

IE isn’t built like Mozilla or any other browser. It really is down into the core of the OS because many of its behaviors are determined by the available versions of other components. Take, for example, the networking and javascript stacks. These are the cause of some very critical deployment-time bugs, but their behavior is determined by the versions of winsock and the Windows Scripting Host that are installed in the host OS, not the “IE version”. This means that if you’re not running the same version and patch-level of Windows, you’re not running the same browser that your users are, and if you’re not running the same browser, you can’t debug the problem or come up with a workaround. To accurately debug issues, you need to be able to step through OS revs, not just rendering engine+browser chrome updates. And as if that’s not enough, major Microsoft partners maintain their own IE builds. Getting reports of a problem that only shows up on Dells? There’s a reason for that. In cases like this, there’s really not much to be done short of buying a POS dell, but we can at least cover most of the rest of the strangeness we see in the wild with virtualization.

So it looks like I have to figure out what operating system and patches the user has installed.


If this keeps up I'm going to start missing doing C++ development.


Categories: Web Development

November 13, 2006
@ 06:47 PM

The folks behind Microsoft's video sharing site MSN SoapBox have a team blog at You should swing by and say hello. You might learn a thing or two. For example, I found out from the post entitled Spaces and Embedded Video Gadget that one can create a playlist of videos that is displayed when the SoapBox player is embedded in another website. The relevant excerpt is shown below

Dare spent the weekend updating his Embedded Video Gadget to allow Soapbox ideos to play within a Spaces and gadget.  The good news is that the Embedded Video Gadget now allows embedding single videos, as well as multiple videos, such as My Videos and My Favorites. 

The videos you see at the top of the Soapbox Team Blog, are an actual My Favorites example.

This is a pretty sweet feature and one I've not seen used a lot by other video sharing sites. I've been exchanging some mail with the team and they've been pretty good about responding to feedback and sharing information. If you have some ideas for the team or just want to find out how to get an invite to the beta go ahead and leave a comment in their blog.


Categories: MSN

November 12, 2006
@ 03:32 PM

So a few weeks ago I wrote a moderately popular embedded video gadget for Windows Live Spaces which allows you to embed videos from popular video sharing sites on your or Spaces page. Somewhere along the line it seems that this gadget stopped working correctly in Firefox. Specifically click events on the [Preview] and [Save] buttons were not working. After doing some research I came across an article entitled addEventListener attachEvent - Pass parameters to event-function which made me realize that I had to change my code from

btn2.attachEvent("onclick", OnSave);
     btn2.addEventListener("click", OnSave, true); //Firefox
     btn2.attachEvent("onclick", OnSave); //MSIE
I'm pretty sure that the code used to work at one point in time and from this post on Adam Kinney's blog it does seem that the Atlas framework which is what is used by the Windows Live gadgets platform did write a cross-browser version of attachEvent. I wonder if they took that change out due to negative feedback from developers? I guess this is just another example of why I think trying to standardize gadget widget packaging and then expecting it'll lead to interop between gadget widget platforms is an amusingly naive idea. See the discussion in the comments to my post entitled W3C Working on Widgets 1.0 Spec for more context. :)

UPDATE: Kevin Daly just posted a comment in response to this post which links to a blog post entitled DOM events in the Microsoft AJAX Library. The post confirms that negative developer feedback led to a change in Atlas which breaks event handling in Firefox for any app written against previous versions of the Atlas framework as I speculated above. I've just spent 15 minutes updating and resubmitting all my old gadgets to Windows Live Gallery. If you are a gadget developer you may want to check out your code as well. 

PS: Visit to see what it looks like to embed an MSN SoapBox video in your blog.


Categories: Web Development

A couple of days ago I wrote a post entitled Jubilee Thoughts: What is a Podcast? where I requested some feedback on the discussions Torsten and I had been having about what options we should have for configuring the podcast handling features of RSS Bandit. A couple of you responded and we've changed the UI based on your feedback. Below is a screenshot of the Attachments\Podcasts tab of the Options dialog.

When you click on the Advanced button you get the following dialog for configuring special behavior for Podcasts.

The only thing left is to actually design and implement the Podcast queue and/or Podcast inbox. At this rate we should be able to ship a beta of the Jubilee release by the end of the month.


Categories: RSS Bandit

In recent times whenever people compare the quality of search engines they usually focus on the 'relevance' of the search engine results. Over at MSN Windows Live we've taken this seriously and there have been numerous reports over the past year or two about how much our search engine relevance has been increasing. However I've recently been wondering whether 'relevance' is really all that relevant today and there are other factors that I consider more important than whether the most relevant web pages are returned for my web search. Below are examples from Google and Live Search to illustrate my point

  1. Search for "Marvel Ultimate Alliance" on Google

    Note the options to 'Refine Search results' that gives you links to queries for screenshots, cheats and reviews along with finding the most relevant web site that matches the query.

  2. Search for G-Unit in Live Search

    Note the 'Related Searches', list of Top Downloads for the rap group and a link to the G-Unit page on Rhapsody along with finding the most relevant web site that matches the query.

  3. Search for "skate king bellevue" on Yahoo!, Google and Live Search, all of which not only bring up the most relevant website that matches the query but also the business's phone number and address on a map as well.

What I'm getting at is that relevant search results is on the way to being a commodity. Yahoo! search, Google search and Live search all give me pretty relevant search results most of the time. We are at the stage in the world of web search where what will keep a search engine on top or make it rise to prominence if it isn't on top is how much more it does beyond just finding relevant web pages.

This isn't a startling revelation and I'm sure all the folks working at the major search engines already realize this but it was a new insight to me. :)


November 10, 2006
@ 07:32 PM

Greg Linden has a blog post entitled Marissa Mayer at Web 2.0 where he writes

Marissa started with a story about a user test they did. They asked a group of Google searchers how many search results they wanted to see. Users asked for more, more than the ten results Google normally shows. More is more, they said.

So, Marissa ran an experiment where Google increased the number of search results to thirty. Traffic and revenue from Google searchers in the experimental group dropped by 20%.

Ouch. Why? Why, when users had asked for this, did they seem to hate it?

After a bit of looking, Marissa explained that they found an uncontrolled variable. The page with 10 results took .4 seconds to generate. The page with 30 results took .9 seconds.

Half a second delay caused a 20% drop in traffic. Half a second delay killed user satisfaction.

This conclusion may be surprising -- people notice a half second delay? -- but we had a similar experience at In A/B tests, we tried delaying the page in increments of 100 milliseconds and found that even very small delays would result in substantial and costly drops in revenue.

If you are a developing a consumer web site whose revenue depends on the number of page views you get, you need to print out that post and nail it to every bulletin board in your offices. One big problem with the AJAX craze that has hit the Web is how much slower websites have become now that using Flash and DHTML to add "richness" to Web applications is becoming more commonplace. My mind now boggles at the fact that I now see loading pages that last several seconds when visiting Web sites more and more these days.

Below is the graphic that shows up when you try to login to your Yahoo Mail beta inbox.

break dancing dude that shows up when you try to login to Yahoo Mail

My girlfriend watched me waiting for my inbox to show up while the above animated graphic was displaying and joked that they should change the graphic to a tortoise crawling across the screen so you have a heads up about how long it's going to take. :)

Of course, Windows Live services have also been guilty of this as are most of the 'Web 2.0' websites out there. At the end of the day, it's better for me to get to my data as quickly as possible than it is for the experience to be 'rich'. Remember that.


Categories: Web Development

November 10, 2006
@ 07:09 PM

I noticed today that the W3C has a draft spec named Widgets 1.0 that has the following abstract

This document describes widgets. It covers the packaging format, the manifest file config.xml, and scripting interfaces for working with widgets.

The type of widgets that are addressed by this document are usually small client-side applications for displaying and updating remote data, packaged in a way to allow a single download and installation on a client machine. The widget may execute outside of the typical web browser interface. Examples include clocks, stock tickers, news casters, games and weather forecasters. Some existing industry solutions go by the names "widgets", "gadgets" or "modules".

I read the spec and it's unclear to me after reading what problem it is actually trying to solve.  Is this supposed to make the lives of widget developers easier? Doesn't seem like it. Is it targetted at vendors that are building proprietary widget platforms like Yahoo!, Microsoft and Fox Interactive Media (MySpace's parent company)? Not really from what I read. At best, it seems this is trying to change the fact that the primary way of sharing widgets across sites is copying & pasting HTML code you find on places such as MySpace scripts and Video Code Zone by building a more complicated system which hopefully can then be integrated into Web browsers as native functionality to 'eventually' make things easier.

Yeah, right. Good luck with that.


Categories: Web Development

November 9, 2006
@ 11:18 PM
A few days ago there was an article on the BBC News site entitled Zune problems for MSN customers which stated

But in a move that could alienate some customers, MSN-bought tracks will not be compatible with the new gadget. The move could also spell problems for the makers of MP3 players which are built to work with the MSN store.
The problem has arisen because tracks from the MSN Music site are compatible with the specifications of the Plays For Sure initiative. This was intended to re-assure consumers as it guaranteed that music bought from services backing it would work with players that supported it. MSN Music, Napster, AOL Music Now and Urge all backed Plays For Sure as did many players from hardware makers such as Archos, Creative, Dell and Iriver.

In a statement a Microsoft spokesperson said: "Since Zune is a separate offering that is not part of the Plays For Sure ecosystem, Zune content is not supported on Plays For Sure devices." The spokesperson continued: "We will not be performing compatibility testing for non-Zune devices, and we will not make changes to our software to ensure compatibility with non-Zune devices."
Microsoft said that its Windows Media Player will recognise Zune content which might make it possible to put the content on a Plays For Sure device. However, it said it would not provide customer support to anyone attempting this.

On a similar note there was an article entitled Trying Out the Zune: IPod It’s Not in the New York Times today which states

Microsoft went with its trusted Windows strategy: If you code it, the hardware makers will come (and pay licensing fees). And sure enough, companies like Dell, Samsung and Creative made the players; companies like Yahoo, Rhapsody, Napster and MTV built the music stores.

But PlaysForSure bombed. All of them put together stole only market-share crumbs from Apple. The interaction among player, software and store was balky and complex — something of a drawback when the system is called PlaysForSure.“Yahoo might change the address of its D.R.M. server, and we can’t control that,” said Scott Erickson, a Zune product manager. (Never mind what a D.R.M. server is; the point is that Microsoft blames its partners for the technical glitches.) Is Microsoft admitting, then, that PlaysForSure was a dud? All Mr. Erickson will say is, “PlaysForSure works for some people, but it’s not as easy as the Zune.”

So now Microsoft is starting over. Never mind all the poor slobs who bought big PlaysForSure music collections. Never mind the PlaysForSure companies who now find themselves competing with their former leader. Their reward for buying into Microsoft’s original vision? A great big “So long, suckas!” It was bad enough when there were two incompatible copy-protection standards: iTunes and PlaysForSure. Now there will be three.

(Although Microsoft is shutting its own PlaysForSure music store next week, it insists that the PlaysForSure program itself will live on.)

Microsoft’s proprietary closed system abandons one potential audience: those who would have chosen an iPod competitor just to show their resentment for Apple’s proprietary closed system. To make matters worse, you can’t use Windows Media Player to load the Zune with music; you have to install a similar but less powerful Windows program just for the Zune. It’s a ridiculous duplication of effort by Microsoft, and a double learning curve for you.

So how is the Zune? It had better be pretty incredible to justify all of this hassle.

As it turns out, the player is excellent.

On days like this, I miss having Robert Scoble roaming the halls in the B0rg cube. It sucks when you let the press tell your story for you.


It looks like there has been an update to Windows Live Spaces with some obvious new features such as The What's New page and some not so obvious features such as fixing the fact that gadgets on Windows Live Spaces cannot save user preferences.

What does that mean for users of Windows Live Spaces? For one it means that my Embedded Video Gadget, Flickr gagdet and Photo Album browser gadget now all work in Windows Live Spaces. I'm going to be a gadget writing fool this weekend. Job #1 will be adding support for embedding SoapBox videos in my Embedded Video Gadget. The next will be porting some of the cool gadgets I saw at Widgets Live and getting them into Windows Live Gallery

By the way, you can see my gadgets in action at The video gadget should be playing the White & Nerdy video from YouTube and the Flickr gadget should be showing pictures from Mike Torres's public photo sets.

Update: The Windows Live Spaces team has blogged about the recent changes in their blog post entitled What’s new in Windows Live Spaces.

Categories: Windows Live

November 8, 2006
@ 05:32 PM

From the Microsoft press release entitled Microsoft Rallies Developers to Build Next-Generation Applications we learn

LAS VEGAS — Nov. 6, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today unveiled new technologies that enable developers to build next-generation interactive applications for Windows Vista™, the 2007 Microsoft® Office system and the Web. The new technologies are designed to help developers build Web services and connected, service-oriented applications that deliver the levels of security, reliability and differentiation that business and consumers expect.
The technologies announced today include the following:
•    The release to manufacturing of Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0, which provides advances for building rich, interactive client applications (Windows Presentation Foundation), communication and workflow (Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Workflow Foundation) and online identity management (Windows CardSpace).

So it looks like v1 of Avalon, Indigo and InfoCard are finally out. Congratulations to all the people who've been working on these technologies for the last couple of years. It'll be interesting to see what kind of changes to Windows GUI applications comes from the availability of WPF and also whether the developer community agrees that WCF supports building RESTful Web services as much as some folks have been telling me.


Categories: Programming

Torsten created a mockup of the Options tab for Attachments & Podcasts in the next version of RSS Bandit which is currently codenamed Jubilee and we've gotten into quite a debate about it. The Attachments/Podcasts tab of the Options dialog is shown below

So what are the points of contention?

  1. Dare: We shouldn't have two download locations, one for podcasts and one for attachments
    Torsten: What about people who want to copy supported file formats to their hardware device (e.g. MP3s) but have everything else go to local folders?

  2. Torsten: My MP3 player doesn't handle subfolders well so all podcasts need to be placed in the same folder.
    Dare: Most podcast clients create a folder structure where each podcast goes into a subfolder that is named after the feed. Perhaps we need an option for 'place podcasts in subfolders named after the feed'?
  3. Dare: When creating playlists in iTunes or WMP, should we create one über-playlist with all podcasts or one playlist per feed? Perhaps we need an option for this as well?

  4. Torsten: With all these additional options perhaps we need an 'Attachments' tab and a 'Podcasts' tab?
    Dare: Wouldn't that be weird given that most of the settings from the 'Attachments' tab would apply to podcasts as well?

Let us know what you think about the various points of contention and feel free to let us know if there are other points of contention that you have with the above dialog and the discussion around it.

Categories: RSS Bandit

From the press release entitled Microsoft Adds 3-D City Models to Live Search we learn

REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 6, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today announced U.S. availability of Virtual Earth™ 3D, a new online mapping interface that is part of the Live Search offering, providing consumers with a three-dimensional experience to search, browse and explore the real world online.

When people visit Live Search (, type a query into the search box and click the “Maps” tab, they get their search results in a map context that offers the option to explore the area using two-dimensional views (aerial and bird’s-eye) or three dimensional models with Virtual Earth 3D. This new technology compiles photographic images of cities and terrain to generate textured, photorealistic 3-D models with engineering level accuracy.

Again the VE team proves why they are my favorite team at Windows Live. The team has also blogged about the changes in their blog post entitled Spaceland is Live! which includes a screenshots. This is hot. I'm off to a launch party in a few hours here in SF and I can't wait to high five some of the folks behind this feat of technological sweetness. 


Categories: Windows Live

These are my notes from the session on Success Story: PhotoBucket.

PhotoBucket is a video and image hosting site that sees 7 million photos and 30,000 videos uploaded daily. They serve over 3 billion pieces of media a day. The site has 15 million unique users in the U.S. (20 million worldwide) and has 80,000 new accounts created daily. There is now a staff of 55 people whose job it is to moderate content submissions to ensure they meet their guidelines.

The top sites their images used to be linked from used to be eBay and LiveJournal but now the key drivers of traffic are now social networking sites such as MySpace and Xanga. There is 30% - 40% overlap between their user base and social network website users

There was some general advise about widgets such as being careful about hosting costs which may pile up quick if your widgets become popular and also about trying to monetize users via your widgets because some sites frown upon that behavior such as eBay. However well designed and compelling widgets can drive a lot of traffic back to your site, the best example of this to date being YouTube.

The speaker then gave a timeline of notable occurences in the MySpace widgets world such as MySpace blocking Revver & YouTube to the recent explosion of new widgets in the past few months from MeeboMe to a number photo slideshow widgets from the major image hosting services.

Pete Cashmore over at has compiled some statistics on the most popular widgets on MySpace which shows the relative popularity of PhotoBucket's widgets in comparison to other services.

So what's in a name? They've renamed the feature from BucketFeatures to Widgets and now to 'Slide Shows' because none of their non-Silicon Valley users knew what widgets were. After the rename from 'Widgets' to 'Slide Shows', the usage of the feature almost doubled within a month.

They've also designed a JWidget which allows people to log-in to their PhotoBucket account to access their videos and images. Users can upload images and videos . This way people can outsource both image upload and content moderation to PhotoBucket. Now have 16,000,000 logins a month via JWidget from about 500 partner sites. It is amed JWidget because the developer's name begins with 'J'. :)

During the Q&A someone asked if they support you have tagging & open APIs. The response wa sthat they don't do tagging and their user base has never asked for tagging. With 2500 support tickets a day, none of them have ever been about tagging. Also, since it is just image hosting service, tagging is probably more appropriate for the blog post or profile the image is appearing in than on the hosted image. They don't have an No API primarily due to resource constraints, there are only 40 people at the company working on it.


Categories: Trip Report

These are my notes from the session on Success Story: MeeboMe.

Meebo started as a way for the founders to stay in touch with each other when they were at places where they couldn't install their IM client of choice. They realized that Instant Messaging hadn't really met the potential of Web and decided to create a startup to bring IM to the Web. Today they have grown to a site with 1 million logins daily, 4 million unique users a month and 64 million messages sent a day.

MeeboMe is an embeddable IM windows you can drop on any webpage. People can see your online status. Even cooler is that it allows the Meebo user to see people who is viewing that page and then they can send an IM to the page in real time while they are viewing the page. That is fucking cool. I'm so blown away that I've decided to figure out a way to get MeeboMe on Windows Live Spaces and will start looking into how to get that to happen when I get back to work..

There are three main reasons they built the MeeboMe widget; It meets their core mission of bringing IM to the Web, it drives use of and their users asked for it. :)

Their design principles have been quite straightforward. They have used Flash and protocols like Jabber/XMPP that already exist and that they are familiar with to ease development. They try to keep features to a minimum and focus on making act like the traditional IM experience. They have had t deal with performance issues around sending/receiving messages and showing changes to a user's online presence without significant lag. They are also very driven by user feedback and the Meebo blog is embedded in the Meebo web experience when users sign in. User feedback is how they determined that being able to show emoticons in instant messages was more important to users than being able to add IM buddies from Meebo.

MeeboMe is used in a lot of places such as education by high school teachers and college professors as way to give students a way to contact them. Librarians have also used it as a way to have patrons contact the librarian about questions by placing the MeeboMe widget on the front page of the library's website. There is a radio DJ takes requests from the MeeboMe widget on his site. There are also retail sites that use MeeboMe for customer support. One trend they didn't expect is that people place different MeeboMe widgets on different pages on their site si they can have a different buddy list entry for each page.

During the Q&A someone asked if MeeboMe drove account creation on and the answer was "Yes". They had their largest number of new accounts up to that date when they launched the widget.


Categories: Trip Report

These are my notes from the session on Fox Interactive Media by Dan Strauss.

Fox Interactive Media (FIM) is the parent company of MySpace. Also owns MySpace, IGN,,,, Rotten Tomatoes and Gamespy. They have 120 million visitors across all the sites.

They are buying small dev teams like Sidereus and Newroo as well as big companies like MySpace & IGN. They created FIM Labs so that some of the small dev teams can coninue to be innovative. FIM Labs focuses on incubation of new technologies, product development and technology evangelization to FIM properties. The folks from Sidereus worked on the Spring Widgets platform. Announcing a new platform named Spring Widgets.

Why widgets? They have a goal of to cross-pollinating users across the various FIM properties and also create a platform that can tie their businesses together. Widgets have been gaining traction and seemed like the right vehicle for furthering their goals.

Sidereus had a desktop background and researched Konfabulator, Dashboard and Vista gadgets.They also looked at Web widgets specifically AJAX and Flash widgets being used by MySpace users. They want users to be able to add widgets for FIM websites to their MySpace profiles and their desktop. From the Sping platform site a user can find a widget then add it to my MySpace. No more cutting and pasting code, the experience is similar to Windows Live Gallery for MySpace. Users can also drag and drop widgets from the Web onto the desktop. Only the Windows desktop widgets are supported for now but Mac support is on the way.

The Spring Widgets platform is 100% flash. Adding a desktop widget requires installing the Spring widgets runtime in addition to having Flash installed. This runtime is less than 2MB. There is an SDK so widget developers get APIs that can tell if the user is onlne or offline, store some persistent state, tell certain UI conditions such as the widgets window size and more. There is also a Web simulation tool developers can test their widgets without having to upload them to a Website.

The talk was followed by a demo showing how easy it is to build a Spring widget using WYSIWYG Flash development tools. They also announced a partnership with FeedBurner.

There were several questions during the Q&A that resulted in an answer of "we're still figuring things out". It was clear that although the technology may be ready there are a number of policy questions that are still left to be answered such as whether there will be integration of the Spring Widgets site into the MySpace UI (similar to how Windows Live gallery is integrated into Windows Live Spaces or what the certification process will be for getting 3rd party widgets hosted on the Spring Widgets site?

Despite the open questions this is definitely a very bold move on the part of Fox Interactive Media. It does the question though that if every widget platform has its own certified widgets gallery that use their own platforms (e.g. Flash in the case of Spring Widgets, DHTML and XML in the case of Windows Live Gallery and proprietary markup in the case of Yahoo! Widgets Engine there is either going to have to be some standardization or else there may be a winner takes all where widget developers target one or two major widget platforms because they don't have the resources to support every homebrow Flash or AJAX platform out there.


Categories: Trip Report

These are my notes from the session on Konfabulator by Arlo Rose.

He started with answering the question, why name them 'widgets'? At Apple, a UI control was called a widget. He thought the name meant something more and has always wanted to build widgets that do more.

He was the creator of Kaleidoscope which was one of the key customization and theming applications on the Macintosh. The application was so popular that the CEO of Nokia mentioned it as the inspiration for customization in cell phones.

When Apple announced Mac OS X, he became nervous that this would spell the end of Kaleidoscope and it was because they couldn't make the transition to Cocoa so they killed the product. Arlo then looked around for a new kind of application to build and came across the Control Strip and Control Strip Modules on the Mac which he thought were useful but had a bad user experience. He had also discovered an MP3 player for the Mac named Audion which used cool UI effects to create little UI components on the desktop which seemed transparent. Arlo thought it would be a great idea to build a better Control Strip using Audion-like UI. He talked to his partner from Kaleidoscope but he wasn't interested in the idea. He also talked to the developers of Audion but they weren't interested either. So arlo gave up on the idea and wandered from startup to startup until he ended up at Sun Microsystems

At Sun, he was assigned to a project related to the Cobalt Qube which eventually was cancelled. He then had time to work on a side project and so he resurected his idea for building a better Control Strip with an Audion-like user interface. He originally wanted to develop the project using Perl and XML as the development languages but he soon got some feedback that creative types on the Web are more familiar with Javascript. So in 2002 he started on Konfabulator and released version 1.0 the following year. They also created a widget gallery that enabled developers to upload widgets they've built to share with other users. However they didn't get a lot of submissions from developers so they talked to developers and got a lot of feedback on features to add to their platform such as drag and drop, mouse events, keyboard events and so on. Once they did that they started getting dozens and dozens of develper submissions.

After they got so much praise for the Mac version, they decided to work on a Windows version. While working on the Windows version, he got a call from a friend at Apple who said while he was at a design meeting and he heard "We need to steamroll Konfabulator". He started calling all his friends at Apple and eventually it turned out that the Apple product that was intended to steamroll Konfabulator was Dashboard. The products are different, Dashboard uses standard DHTML while Konfabulator uses proprietary markup. Arlo stated that their use of proprietary technologies gave them advantages over using straight DHTML.

Unfortunately, even though they got millions of downloads of the Windows version not a lot of people paid for the software. There were a number of reasons for this. The first was that in general there is a less of a culture of paying for shareware in the Windows world than in the Mac world. Secondly, there were free alternatives to their product on Windows that had sprung up while there was only a Mac version. In looking for revenue, they sought out partnerships and formed one with Yahoo!. He also talked to people at Microsoft in Redmond who let him know that they were planning to add gadgets to Longhorn Windows Vista. Microsoft made him an offer to come work on Windows Vista but he turned it down. Later on, he was pinged by a separate group at MSN that expressed an interest in buying Konfabulator. Once this happened, Arlo contacted Google and Yahoo! to see if theyd make counter offers and Yahoo! won the bidding war.

They started working on the Yahoo! Widget Engine and the goal was to make it a platform for accessing Yahoo! APIs as part of the Yahoo! Developer Network. However consumers still wanted a consumer product like Konfabulator and eventually they left the YDN and went to the Connected Life group at Yahoo! which works on non-Web consumer applications such as desktop and mobile applications.

There are now 4000 3rd party widgets in the Yahoo! widget gallery and they are the only major widget platform which is cross platform. Also they are the only widget platform that has total access to Yahoo! data.

Q & A

Q: What's next?
A: The next question is to see how far widgets can scale as mini-applications. Can a picture frame widget become something more but not a full replacement for Flickr or Photoshop?

Q: What do you think of the Apollo project from Adobe?
A: Doesn't know what it is.

Q: Did he ever figure out a business model for widgets?
A: He planned to make deals with companies like J.Crew, Staples, and Time Warner for movie tie-ins.

Q: Why move from YDN to Connected Life?
A: They were 3 people and they couldn't do both the developer side & the consumer application. Also it turned out that the Yahoo! Developer Network turned out not to have the clout that they thought they would in that Yahoo! applications would refuse to provide APIs that could be accessed by 3rd party developers but would create special APIs for writing Konfabulator widgets.


Categories: Trip Report

November 6, 2006
@ 03:41 AM

My girlfriend's iPod Mini seems to have a corrupted file system after the kids unplugged and restarted the PC with it attached. This seemed like a good opportunity for her to get a new MP3 player and I suggested that suggested that she get a Zune. She liked the idea and was almost completely sold until she remembered that we'd already spent a couple of hundred dollars iPod-enabling her car. Since I haven't heard any rumors that Zunes will be compatible with the iPod connectors I lost that argument.

When we went to the mall, the Apple store was busy so we got her new iPod from the iPod vending machine at Macy's instead. I'm not sure which was the most mind boggling thing about the purchase. The fact that iPod vending machines exist? The fact that there was actually a line at the iPod vending machine? Or that the machine seemed to be getting enough regular usage to be sold out of iPod Nanos? Wow.

The Zune is definitely going to have an uphill battle for mindshare. It's from the same folks who brought us XBox so they've gone up against a deeply entrenched incumbent in the personal electronics game before. This will be interesting to watch. 


Categories: Music

Jason Calacanis has a blog post entitled New views of Netscape Homepage/Hive where he writes

The Netscape homepage has been taken over by political stories. I hate politics, and seeing 1/3rd of the stories on the home page related to "Bush Sucks/Is Great" stories has really burned many of the users out.

You see, people vote 2-3x as much on political stories and they comment 10-30x a much on those same stories. So, we're gonna change the home page to be one of the two below (descriptions by CK from his post on the issue):

I remember the same thing happening to Kuro5hin during the 2000 U.S. elections and the site never recovered. The site went from a more democratic version of Slashdot to being the precursor to DailyKos. As Jason points out, the reason is that people are more likely to comment on or post stories about politics especially during an election year than they are to post about AJAX design patterns or which startup got flipped to Google this week.

Imposing a quota on how many stories from a particular topic/section can show up on the front page sounds like a good way to enforce diversity on the front page. However it is likely to hide the true culture of the site which may actually be heavily tilted to being a political news site than a technology or general news site despite Jason Calacanis's best efforts. Time will tell if this was a good move or not. Either way, it is clear that the community is going in a different direction from what Calacanis and his cohorts at AOL would like. Welcome to the world of user-generated content. ;) 


Categories: Social Software

A couple of days ago Ross Mayfield started a blog post entitled Abundance, and Five Years of Blogging with the following

When I sat down in my first economics class at UCLA, the professor wrote on the blackboard all we would learn, in really big letters:


I've been blogging for five years as of this month, and here's what I've learned:


From this intro, he directs us to a blog post by David Hornik entitled Chris Anderson Strikes Again: The Economy of Abundance which contains the following excerpt

Continuing in his role as shirpa of the new economy, Chris has moved on from the Long Tail to a related but distinct idea that he is calling the Economy of Abundance. In a talk he just gave at the PopTech conference (a fantastic event in the unbelievably beautiful but remote town of Camden Maine), Chris described this new economy. The basic idea is that incredible advances in technology have driven the cost of things like transistors, storage, bandwidth, to zero. And when the elements that make up a business are sufficiently abundant as to approach free, companies appropriately should view their businesses differently than when resources were scarce (the Economy of Scarcity). They should use those resources with abandon, without concern for waste. That is the overriding attitude of the Economy of Abundance -- don't do one thing, do it all; don't sell one piece of content, sell it all; don't store one piece of data, store it all. The Economy of Abundance is about doing everything and throwing away the stuff that doesn't work. In the Economy of Abundance you can have it all.

The same businesses that are the poster children for the Long Tail, are the poster children for the Economy of Abundance. And the same businesses that are the victims of the Long Tail are the poster children for the Economy of Scarcity. With bandwidth and storage approaching free, iTunes can offer three million songs (P2P offers nine million). In contrast, with limited shelf space, Tower Records can only offer fifty- or sixty-thousand tracks. The end result, consumer choose abundance over scarcity (something for everyone) -- Tower Records gets liquidated while iTunes grows dramatically

All this talk of Abundance being the new Economy misses the point that Scarcity is still what drives all economic endeavors. What has happened with the advent of the Web is that certain things that were traditionally considered scarce are now abundant (e.g. shelf space, editorial content, software, etc) which means that the new economic lords are those that can exploit scarcity along another axis.

Most successful Web companies today are exploiting the scarcity of attention and time that plagues all humans. In a world where there a hundred million websites the problem isn't lack of content, it is finding the right content. Similarly, in a world where there are competing media for people's attention from television and radio to the Web and print magazines, advertisers need to be able to find the right audience and medium for their sales pitches. Both of these are examples of scarcity that companies like Google have exploited in the 'new economy'. Scarcity of attention also points to how companies like eBay and Amazon have risen to the top not 'abundance of shelf space' because simply having infinite shelf space doesn't explain why eBay and Amazon have been more successful than Yahoo! Auctions and Barnes & Noble online.

Even the example of the iTunes Music Store is another story of the economics of scarcity. The key to its success has been the fact that it is tied to the iPod and is the only music store that is tied to the world's most successful portable music player. The economics of abundance is a good fairy tale to scare people in traditional bricks & mortar businesses like Tower Records but at the end of the day simply moving online does not change the fact that you are always battling scarcity when you are engaging in business. Just ask the folks at MSN Music how the economy of abundance worked out for them.


Categories: Ramblings

November 5, 2006
@ 04:25 PM

I've been playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance for the past couple of days and its now my favorite super hero game of all time, just narrowly beating out Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. It's like someone picked out all my favorite qualities in a video game (button mashing beat 'em up, super heroes, interesting plot) and created a game just for me.

You get the use all the members of the Fantastic Four, Wolverine, Spidey, Captain America, Thor and even fricking Daredevil. Plus you get to fight in Mephisto's realm, Asgard and the Shi'ar empire. It's a Marvel comic book geek's dream game. Cop this game if you haven't already. 

PS: Can someone explain to me how Google knows to refine the search results for the query for 'Marvel Ultimate Alliance'. I'm guessing this has something to do with Google Co-op.


Categories: Video Games

November 5, 2006
@ 04:10 PM

I'll be attending a number of conferences over the next few months and thought it'd be a good idea to post about them here just in case there are some folks who read my blog who'd like to meet up for a chat while we're in the same vicinity. The conferences are

  • Widgets Live: November 6, 2006 (San Francisco, CA)

  • CES: January 8 - 11, 2007 (Las Vegas, NV)

  • ETech: March 26 - 29, 2007 (San Diego, CA)

  • MIX '07: TBD, (Las Vegas, NV)

If you'll be at Widgets Live tomorrow, see you there.

The Windows Live Search team has a blog post entitled Add Search to Your Site with the Live Search Box which states

Today, we’re proud to announce the launch of the Live Search Box, to bring the power of search to your Web site or blog through a coo widget. 

When the user enters a query, the search box dynamically builds a floating <DIV> on your page to display the search results. You can customize the query in the first tab to search your site, your macro or anything else, while the second tab will return general web search results. The floating <DIV> will position itself appropriately, whether you decide to place the box on the left, right, top, or bottom of your Web site.

The search box also comes in a pure-HTML flavor:

Just a few days ago I wrote about Google Custom Search Engine, Live Search Macros and Yahoo! Search Builder. At the time I pointed out that although Windows Live was ahead of the game in enabling users to customize their personal search experience search macros, we didn't offer a good story for adding a custom search box to your website or building your own search engine on top of ours. Now we do.

I'm going to switch the search box on my weblog later today and give it a whirl. The built in search provided by dasBlog is quite slow and it would be great if I could offload this functionality to Live Search. Mad props to the Live Search folks for providing this functionality.


Categories: Windows Live

November 1, 2006
@ 03:01 PM

From the Microsoft Max team blog post entitled Thank you: the Max project has concluded we learn

Thank you for participating in the beta of Microsoft Codename Max. Over the past year, you’ve sent us tons of fantastic feedback that we’ve incorporated not only into Max, but into the platform layer with the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF).

Thanks to your participation, we were able to accomplish the goals of the Max project—to get customer feedback on new ways to approach software and services. If you’re interested in seeing where we go with these ideas, keep your eye on Windows Live.

Starting today, we will be disabling all downloads from our website. In the next week, we will be shutting down the Max services and our team forums. At that time, you will no longer be able to sign in to Max or share lists of photos with your friends.

The Max folks built some very cool user interfaces which received a number of favorable  reviews. They are now going to be pouring their efforts into Windows Live applications which means there are some beautiful looking Windows Live applications coming our way in the future.


Categories: Windows Live