webDotWiz talks Windows Live

A daily list of links to interesting sites

Monthly Archives: December 2006

Soapbox Video Player is the easiest

Once you’ve asked for and been accepted to try out Soapbox on MSN Video, you can add the Soapbox Video Player to your Space so visitors can view your own videos.

The Soapbox Video Player is the easiest of the player gadgets to deal with – there are no complicated embed codes to copy and paste to get things to work.

To add the Soapbox Video Player to your own Space, simply click the + on the top right of the player on webDotWiz’s Space. A drop down lets you choose to add the gadget to your own Space and from there all you need do after your own Space opens is to move the player to where you want it on your own page and click Save in the yellow reminder bar that pops up. Then click the Install button. Click on the top right (not very well seen because of the yellow colour on the black background) of the player to choose which videos you want played. Normally you’ll want to choose My Videos. Otherwise, until you create some of your own videos (e.g., from photos using Photo Story), watch some videos at Soapbox and mark ones you like – they’ll automatically go into your favorites – so choose My Favorites.

If you’ve got videos on another service such as YouTube you’ll need the universal player named Video Player for Soapbox. You can get this one from the Soapbox team’s space.


Spam, spam, spam

You may have noticed a different kind of junk mail getting through your defences – the messages only contain images and this sort of junk can’t be stopped by the normal email defence systems which scan the text – there’s no text to scan!

Those of you using Windows Live Mail, or Hotmail if you haven’t changed over, can stop much of this junk by setting your mail inbox options to only allow mail from people on your Live Messenger contact list.

Those using Outlook, Outlook Express or Windows Live Mail desktop could make some rules to block the addresses from which all this junk is orginating. However, the spammers saw this possibility years ago and rarely use the same address more than once for a spam deluge. So that’s a waste of time.

Outlook users have Microsoft anti-spammers working hard all the time to develop new rules – a new definition file is installed as part of the Microsoft patch Tuesday updates each month. Sadly, lots of things can happen in a month .

For an interesting read of how Terry Zink, one of Microsoft’s anti-spam team, works out what is spam is what is not, what he has to do to create new anti-spam rules (e.g., read through about 25,000 junk emails to analyse the way text is written by junk mailers), and trends in the junk spamming world, you can add his blog to your feeds.

For more info about the war against spammers, visit The Spamhaus Project.

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Watch a Soapbox video on Messenger with one of your contacts

Via the Soapbox on MSN Video team Space, Inside Live Messenger, Liveside.

To watch a video with a friend on your Messenger contact list:

  • sign into Soapbox on MSN Video and begin watching a video
  • click on the Share tab below the video player on the righ-hand side of the screen
  • look for im this video and click it
  • you’ll be asked to choose a contact from your contact list who’s also currently online
  • the Messenger activity window will open once your contact has accepted your invitation
  • watch the video together and chat about it while it’s playing.

Italy now has high resolution imagery on Live Maps

Via the Windows Live Local / Virtual Earth team Space:

Last night the Virtual Earth Imagery team rolled out a pretty big update, about 20 TB of compressed data in all, most of which represents aerial coverage of all of Italy. The shot below of Mt. Vesuvius is brilliant even in 2d, but switch into 3d for a real viewing treat.

If you haven’t already installed the 3D view add-on for Live Maps, simploy follow the prompts when you go to the Mt. Vesuvius link. Note you need 512Mb of RAM on your computer and it’s best if you’ve got a separate video card (rather than having a graphics chip processor integrated on your computer’s motherboard). As for CPU speed, webDotWiz’s old 900MHz CPU seems to cope ok with Live Maps in 3D but he’s got 768Mb RAM and a 64Mb graphics card (an old one, by the way).

If you’re happy to just view Mt. Vesuvius in 2D, here’s a link.

For the technos, the pics for all of Italy totalled 20Tb (20 terrabytes or 1 000 Gb) of data that was uploaded to the Live Maps servers.

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Chat with Santa



to your contact list on Windows Live Messenger, and from the morning of Christmas Eve, you can find out where he is on his journey around the world and ask him when he’ll be visiting your house.

Keep up to date with what Santa is doing by visiting his Space at http://santaonspaces.spaces.live.com.

Soapbox nickname prob fixed

Apparently some Soapbox users had a problem with some sort of mixup with nicknames (one webDotWizard Webmaster had the prob). The good news is that the problem is fixed – see here for more info. By the way, one indicator of the nickname problem is you can’t access your contact card, i.e., when you hover the mouse over your Live ID profile picture, you won’t get the little down arrow that gives you access to your contact card, a link to your Space, and so on.

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Live maps bird’s eye view update

Apart from lots of new cities being viewable in bird’s eye view, another update to Live Maps the other day was the replacement of the grid control to look around in bird’s eye view and its with an inset map:

By the way, Live Maps will tell you if a city or region has bird’s eye view with a little message popping up near the navigation control and the bird’s eye view icon (the bottom of the two in the nav control) will brighten. As well, the inset map will slide out. The viewable area is greyed out on this inset map and you can use it by dragging the mouse to move the vieweable area in the main map view.

There’s a write up, too, of the thinking behind the mini-map tool when in bird’s eye view mode. Among other things, note the mouse changing from a large hand for panning to a target cursor to indicate you’re near the edge of a bird’s eye view and a click at this stage will load the next lot of bird’s eye view images.

More bird’s eye views on Live Maps

Many more cities now have bird’s eye photography.

At this time cities are in the U.S., U.K. and Italy, with more to follow soon.

The Virtual Earth team have added to their collections so that’s the easiest way to see lots of cities from a new angle:

(both links above will open in a new browser window, or, if you’re using IE 7, right click on the link and choose Open in a new tab to make life a bit easier).

As well there’s a great tour of Rome since this city now has bird’s eye view too – here’s the link:

As noted on the Virtual Earth team’s Space,

even if your city or a city you are interested in viewing isn’t on the list, check it out anyway – chances are good that if it is near a listed city, there may be coverage there.

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Soapbox site updated

Just when the webDotWizards on Friday morning were preparing to upload some of their videos to Soapbox, they were greeted with a message to say that the site was being updated. Well, it looks as though the changes will be beneficial so inconvenience can be put aside.

Anyway, that gave them some time to have a look at some great bird’s eye views of cities in Europe, particularly sights around Rome because of updates to imagery of European and US cities.

In brief, here are the updates to Soapbox (via the Soapbox team Space):

  • improved Flash uploader – it shows progress and, by the way, there’s no size limit on videos uploaded
  • in your profile the contact card is now available, just as we’re used to in Live Spaces (although as of time of writing, it hasn’t appeared for webDotWiz)
  • the details tab (in the Video Panel on the right-hand side of the page, opened when you choose a video to view) gives all the info about the video and a list of similar videos
  • the share tab now enables you to blog immediately to your Space. Note, for the time being, it’s just a link to a Soapbox video. Later on we’ll be able to directly embed the video and player into a Space entry
  • a couple of things webDotWiz can’t yet see:
    • set permission on a video to public or hidden
    • new codecs
    • embedded player now can have maximum of 100 videos in a playlist
    • there are two embedded players: the normal one and if you set the width to less than 300px, a compact version