I just migrated to word press :)

Thank you for making the migration progress easy Microsoft, rather than just dumping us.

Before:                                   After:

(And on a side note, at least they’re not nasty – unlike a certain other social network:

Despite the fact that Buzz is supposedly turned off:

Thank you Google, one would have thought that you would have learnt your lesson by now. Obviously not.)

The only issue right now is that WL Writer isn’t playing nice with WP for some reason.

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Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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Deleting Multiple Spam Comments on Windows Live Spaces

It seems to be a common myth that you can’t delete spam multiple spam comments from WL spaces in one go. This is, in fact, incorrect, so I’ve written some instructions on how to do this. Here’s hoping we can make the internet a better, less spamy place (although I can’t say I’ve got my hopes up too much ):

  1. Go to your spaces blog (yourspace.spaces.live.com/blog) and log into your Windows Live account
  2. On the left hand side is a “Summary” link – just underneath the “Add” link – select this (click thumbnail for larger image):
  3. You can now open comments by clicking on the “x Comments” link for each post. Then select the check box for those you would like to delete. Finally click “Delete selected items”:

Happy blogging!

Long live spaces!

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Facebook’s New Privacy Controls

Facebook is currently in the process of introducing a new set of privacy controls that are supposed to “give you even greater control over the information you share”. Unfortunately it seems that not everyone’s happy about them, and for good reason too. A quick read down Facebook’s blog post on the issue reveals that:

With these changes, a limited set of basic information that helps your friends find you will be made publicly available. This information is name, profile picture, gender, current city, networks, friend list, and Pages. The overwhelming majority of people who use Facebook already make most or all of this information available to everyone. We’ve found that most people who do limit access just want to avoid being found in searches or prevent contact from strangers. For this reason, we’ll be preserving the settings that allow you to exclude yourself from search results on Facebook and public search engines. You’ll also be able to limit who can send you messages and friend requests to only friends and friends of friends.

In an era when we are being constantly warned about the consequences of taking online privacy lightly it seems ridiculous that Facebook should actually make it harder for us to keep information private. I don’t buy their argument that setting yourself invisible in search is a substitute for these controls for the following reasons:

  • I want my (irl) friends to be able to find me in search so that they can add me
  • I want my (irl) friends to be able to see my friends so they know they have the correct person (Facebook are explaining how you can hide visibility of your friends list, which isn’t a substitute because I want people to be able to see it… besides, what they frequently neglect to mention is that this will only change what logged in friends see, there is no way to stop non-friends seeing your friends list if you wanted to do that)
  • I want my main (university) network to be visible to help people find me
  • I do not want my profile picture visible as I think that is providing too much information to people that I may not know
  • I would prefer that the pages I’m a fan of could be non-visible because a. someone could probably build quite a good picture of the sort of person that I am from that and b. some of them would make me look stupid
  • Even if I’m not visible in search someone could click through to me from the friends list on a friends profile

So what have I done to mitigate the change? Well my profile picture is now non-photographic and I’m contemplating un-fanning most/all of the fan pages that I’m currently a fan of. Shame, shame, shame on you Facebook and I hope you will quickly rectify this situation.

Also, the default for new accounts is completely public which I think will lead to many people unintentionally sharing things they don’t want to. While my sympathy for these people is very limited I do think Facebook should be giving them a bit more protection out of the box.

This is what a test account I set up that I had not added as a friend could see of me, despite having almost every privacy setting on its highest level.

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You’d think ISPs would understand network security…

My ISP is O2 Broadband and I’m using the "O2 Wireless Box II" modem/router/wireless access point combo they supply (a rebranded Thomson job). I noticed in the configuration options there are no settings you can hit to give it your ISP settings so out of curiosity I though I’d have a look on the web and see if it was possible to use it with other ISPs. You can do that from the SuperUser account it seems, or by giving it a lot of work reflashing it (apparently they try and stop you reflashing it). Anyways, what concerned me was this. Aside from the default "Administrator" login there are 2 other default accounts you can’t see. One entitled "SuperUser" – privilege above "Administrator" and one entitled "O2Care" – privilege "Technical Support", whatever that means. I created an account to try and test all the different privelege levels, unfortunately I’m having trouble figuring out how to set the password on it, I don’t know what it’s created with by default. Anyway, take a look at the difference between logging in as "Administrator" and the hidden "SuperUser":

Anyway, what really concerns me is not that these hidden accounts exist but that (certainly "SuperUser") has a default password the same across all boxes. If you don’t know the account exists how can you change the password. Now next time I’m at a mate’s house who has O2 Broadband I can go fart about with their router and have fun :). Not good. Especially given the default wireless encryption is only WEP.
And it gets better. The default password is, not some kind of phrase like "O2SupportAccess" or a random string of numbers/letters but something that sounds like a joke. It is the unbelievably 1337 "O2Br0ad64nd". I’d really, really rather my networking hardware wasn’t programmed by 1337 hax0r5 thank you very much.
There you are. Call me a crazy paranoid crackhead if you like, but you can’t argue, you know what I’ve said is true :)

I also just found this, seems they’re not the most secure boxes in the world anyway: http://www.jibble.org/o2-broadband-fail/

The stingy people are likely to want it back when I cancel the contract at the end of the year too…

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A crosspost of  a (very) quick review I made of Bing today, that I posted over on Channel9 – http://channel9.msdn.com/forums/Coffeehouse/471309-Yet-Another-Bing-Thread-YABT-a-review/

I got my hands on a Bing preview code yesterday and I must say, I’m impressed. It provides better results than the current live search (an example of this (from Liveside) is that a search for Liveside on Live search takes you to a page on their site other than their homepage, while a search on Bing yields their homepage). Also awesome are the mouseover popups – done in such a way as to not be obtrusive or annoying while yielding useful information (I must admit I was queasy when I first found out about these, but now I’ve been able to try them I’m not).

Another feature that I love is that it seems to know what you’re searching for (when you search for something on Google, Live Search, Yahoo! etc. it just searches for a series of words, Bing is different). An example of this is a search for "The Italian Job" – as well as just trawling the web for the phrase "The Italian Job" a series of film related options appears to the left of the search results. And, what’s more, the search results are sorted into criteria such as "Quotes" "Reviews" and "Posters":

The video search results screen is also greatly improved – contrast:

All in all, great work Microsoft! Just one major issue: localisation: if I have my country set to UK instead of Bing shopping I get ciao!, I don’t get the reliable medical information, I get multimap instead of Bing maps (I know at least maps is consistent with current Live Search), heck it even doesn’t organise my "Italian Job" results in a nice, movie related way, like the US version does. I’m wandering if this is something to do with the fact that the UK localisation names itself "Bing Beta" while the US localisation names itself "Bing Preview" – but please Microsoft, don’t deny your international customers all the coolness of Bing, please bring the international locations up to feature parity by launch. Thank you.

I’ll now leave you with a few other screenshots

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Microsoft Vine

You may have heard of Microsoft Vine – a new service from Microsoft. When it was announced there was a lot of confusion about what it actually did (and I guess having a service that actually does something (and you knowing what that something is) is quite important if you wish to use it). It seemed to be a cross between Facebook and Twitter, all managed from a desktop application (many asked why they needed  a desktop application to do what they already do). Oh, and it promised to save the world.

Well Microsoft have began sending invites out, so I was able to download Vine and see what exactly it does, and if it does it well. First impressions – weird setup process: download an exe that just opens my web browser and points me to an MSI which I manually have to download and run. After that the install process when smoothly, more or less as you’d expect an install to run.

Firing up the app… first thought is: I’m sure Microsoft have said they want to try and reduce the number of tray notifications users get… then they add one to Vine telling me… that it’s Vine (and this wasn’t some first run thing either… happens every times):

So, once the app’s open what does it look like? Very glassy… I like! :D

Time to start poking about. The map is virtual earth with some kind of localised news feed added – you can also have areal photography instead of the map:


(only appears when you mouse over the upper left of the map)

Note the dropdown for easy selection of places (I’ve also turned on satellite imagery for this one):

News feeds seem to only be for the US at the moment…. and the news is hardly monumental (the worst dissaster at the moment is that AT&T are “mulling cheaper plans for the iPhone” in Birmingham Alabama. Better hurry up with “Pink” Microsoft!

(also, note the balloons are a little off… first bug I’ve found so far… :D :p)

When you add places you can set Vine to alert you to all news items in a certain radius (although we don’t have news in the UK yet):

The star is me :) and the big blob is the stuff close enough that I care (customisable)

Next up we have the “Vitals” screen – Where you can add various personal bits of info, link to your social networking sites etc. Seems phone integration doesn’t work outside the US yet either, because my perfectly valid UK mobile number keeps being rejected as an “invalid phone number” with and without country code (anyone know what the international dial code for the US is… I could add that on the front and try again):

The pin is basically a way of stopping someone sending fake emails – even if they fake your email address (easy enough) they have to know your pin to be able to send an alert to Vine.

We have the places screen that allows you to see all the places you care about (see if AT&T are going to lower iPhone prices near your home too :p), and manage them. No, I don’t live in Redmond, so please don’t go there to stalk me:

Finally we have the people screen (this is supposed to be the really important one right…?). I tried to add a contact but when I got the invitation email it only brought me to the beta invite request page so I won’t be able to test the rest of the feature properly just yet:

So now the touted features… alerts and reports. Having no contacts I was unable to send either of these – but you can see what I could have done (I had to smile at the “In an emergency dial 911” – reminded me of the IT Crowd):

An “Alert” I think this is supposed to be a call for help;

A “Report” I think this is supposed to be a kind of general “Yoohoo, I’m still here” message.

The types of report you can send:

I’m still not convinced how much this is better than just phoning your parents/spouse/pet monster/whatever and asking for help… but it uses teh internetz… so it must be better!

Other stuff? erm… that search box you can see at the bottom of the window just loads Live Search in a browser… that could probably be lost from the application without much hurt…

Oh and check in my report above… unfortunately the Wizard of Oz remains unable to use Vine as “Somewhere over the rainbow” is not considered a valid address :(

Also you can print out a card to stick in your wallet to remind you that rather than emailing your parents you can get Microsoft to do it for you!


That’s all folks… so long!

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