webDotWiz talks Windows Live

A daily list of links to interesting sites

Monthly Archives: April 2007

Messenger how-to’s and free stuff

The Live Messenger team have posted Messenger Tips & free stuff! which you can find at the new Windows Live Messenger site (http://imagine-windowslive.com/Messenger/Post/).

The site is taken up with illustrated step-by-step instructions on the basics of using Live Messenger through to the more fun stuff such as sharing activities or playing games and using Messenger to make PC-to-PC calls.

As well, a reminder there are plenty of backgrounds and display pictures for free at Messenger Vibe (tip: refresh the page to view more free backgrounds and display pics).


Virtual Earth for developers

Well, actually don’t dismiss this post if you’re not a professional programmer and web developer because there are a number of ways you can easily get into seeing how the Virtual Earth mapping system works with a little bit of Javascript code and use it on your own web site.

For example, it didn’t take George long to put up a map on his Bills Horse Troughs site; there’s also one at the Rushworth Community House site. All it took was a copy and paste and a change to a string of characters.

So a read of the Virtual Earth/Live Maps team’s Virtual Earth API V5 post of April 27 is worthwhile.

If you want to see the API in action, have a look at Keith Kinnan’s blog, e.g. this one, Importing Virtual Earth Collections into VEShapeLayers. One of Keith’s demos is here which uses a Live Maps collection.

More new imagery on Live Maps

Live Maps (maps.live.com) was updated the other day with more new imagery.

From the Live Maps/Virtual Earth team space:

New 3D:

  • Canada: Calgary.
  • U.S.A.: Redmond, Buffalo, Beaverton, Portland.
  • UK: Swindon and Brighton.

Aerial and bird’s eye coverage:

  • Italy, 73 new cities
  • France: Bordeaux, Montpellier, Toulouse, Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo
  • Canada: Toronto, Quebec City
  • Mexico: Puerto Vallarta
  • U.S.: a number of counties now have bird’s eye view and the following has new or enhanced aerial view: States of Indiana and Hawaii, Malibu, Joiliet, Miramar, San Francisco, Aurora, La Jolla, Naperville, Niagara Falls, Beaverton, La Mesa, Brooklyn, Portland, Indianapolis, Newark, Roseville, Columbus, Dallas Ft. Worth, Imperial, Juneau, Fairbanks.

Here’s a screenshot of Brighton Pier (U.K.) in 3D:

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Soapbox on MSN Video – new version now available

The Soapbox team announced a few hours ago the next generation of Soapbox on MSN Video (soapbox.msn.com).

There are some good screenshots on the Soapbox team Space and they show up better than here since their Space is using a wide layout for their blog so go and have a look.

webDotWiz hasn’t gone through all the new things yet but here are a couple of new features:

  • Scalable Page: Change the size of your browser and the thumbnails and page will scale dynamically.
  • New Player with integrated Playlists and Progessive Download Indicators.
  • Playlist functionality. Each time you watch a video it is automatically added to the playlist. The Playlist can also be shared.
  • Improved fullscreen experience
  • Video Gallery Sorts. Sort by Hour, Day etc.
  • Updated Embedded Player with clean design and Playlist features.
  • Upload videos of unlimit lengths
  • High quality video encoding
  • Watch video with your Live Messenger friends (using the Messenger activity window).

As well, there’s a new MSN Video site at http://next.video.msn.com drawing on the many Premiere-Level video content partners, such as NBC News, MSNBC, and scores of other networks.

Best of U.S. Railways Part IV Live Maps collection

Here’s Part IV – the collection begins in North California, visits Donner Pass and Mt. Shasta on the way to the container port at Oakland then down to the container terminals at Long Beach, Los Angeles. To finish, thus far, it’s a visit to Cajon Pass and the Tehachapi Pass. 


My Live Search Maps collection

Truckee, California
One end of UP’s Donner Pass line.

Donner Pass Rd.
Southern Pacific constructed their route over Donner Pass whereas Southern Pacific followed the Feather River. WP on the Feather River route had grades half those of SP but had an extra 60 miles or so of track to cross the Sierra Nevadas. See Trains, Jan 2007, p. 76.

Norden, California
Western end of UP’s Donner Pass.

Train on Donner Pass

Summit Tunnel (west portal)

Summit Tunnel (east portal)
On UP trackage at Donner Pass. Keep following the track "eastwards". There’s another tunnel and some snowsheds. Eventually you’ll get to the "big loop" (so named by yours truly). This UP trackage is heading for Reno and Reno Junction.

Big loop east of Summit Tunnel
Keep following the track to the east of Summit Tunnel. You’ll see some snow sheds and more tunnels.

Truckee on I-80
In case you can’t see it but Truckee is just north of here.

Truckee Amtrak Station
Amtrak’s California Zephyr, Chicago to San Francisco, travels through here. UP’s trackage to Reno follows the Truckee"

Your scratch pad has been truncated.

New Live Spaces features – RSS feeds

The webDotWizards are sick and tired of webDotWiz always cajoling them into adding a brief blog on their Space to announce when they’ve added a new photo album or more photos to a current album. Until now the only way for others to know when a person’s Space has new photos is to write a bit so that bit of news will come up in whatever RSS reader they’re using or on their personal Live.com page.


Windows Live Mail desktop (WLMd) has always shown new photos or albums on a friend’s Space in its RSS reader page – very handy and webDotWiz has more than once surprised webDotWizards by mentioning their new photos.

Footnote: anybody on Windows XP still using the outdated and outmoded Outlook Express should immediately install Windows Live Mail desktop – do yourself a favour . Mike Torres has a good writeup of WLMd with strong reasons for using it.


One of many new RSS feeds you can subscribe to from a friend’s Space is their photo albums. If you’re using IE 7 or Firefox, you’ll notice the orange RSS feed button on the toolbar light up – just click it and you’re subscribed.

For example, the photo album feed from The House Gallery is:


Via Rob Dolin and Spaces Devloper Platform, here’s a list of the top-level RSS feeds now available from your friend’s Live Spaces (assuming they’ve turned on syndication under Options):

  • Top Level Feed – <youralias>.spaces.live.com/feed.rss
  • Minimal Feed – <youralias>.spaces.live.com/minimal/feed.rss
  • Blog – <youralias>.spaces.live.com/blog/feed.rss (all blog categories contain sub feeds now)
  • Photo Albums – <youralias>.spaces.live.com/photos/feed.rss (each album has a sub feed with photos)
  • Profile – <youralias>.spaces.live.com/profile/feed.rss
  • Friends – <youralias>.spaces.live.com/friends/feed.rss

In each of the above, replace <youralias> with your Live ID username.

New Live Spaces features – photo albums and photos

Albums and photo viewing have had a major change – it’s all much neater and convenient.

There’s a new page to view photos and a page where we can view all our albums at once.

On the Photos module you’ll notice straightway that there’s no big toolbar to play a photo show – hover your mouse over the Photo module and you’ll see a more compact version:

To get to a full page view of photos in one of your albums (or on another Live Space), look for the little blue button next to the album name:

Click this and you’ll be taken to a redesigned page to view each photo in the album. Note that you don’t have to scroll the page to see the thumbnails at the bottom and the Add a comment link is to the right.

In the left-hand menu you’ll see an addition:

On the View all albums page you can re-arrange them, choose the one that visitors see when they visit your Space, easily choose the album you want to do some work with, or delete an album.

Via Microsoft Photography Blog.

New Live Spaces features – send a message

There are a number of different ways you can use the new Send a message function. Note in all the situations below that you have to be signed in to your Windows Live ID.

1. You’re viewing one of your friend’s Live Spaces. Find Send a message, click it, wait for the message page to come up and enter your message (using the text formatting tools if you want; you can even include a link to another site). webDotWiz is going to send his other self at Living on Waranga Basin a mess that he should move the module with Send a message to a more visible part of the page:

The left-hand side of the page above isn’t shown – it’s got two menu items: Inbox and Sent.

webDotWiz clicked Send at the top of the screenshot above and was returned to Living on Waranga Basin.

To read the message, webDotWiz will sign in under his other Live ID, load up his Waranga Basin space and click Home at the top right of the page. Or, he could go directly to his Waranga Basin space’s home page via a link like this:


where your_alias is your Live ID username.

2. You’re on your own Space and want to send a message to one of your friends: Go to your Friends List, hover over their profile pic and wait for the popup to appear. From the list of choices, choose Send a message. Sorry, it’s a bit hard to get a screenshot in OneNote’s Screen Clipper  but then the steps are the same as above.

3. Send yourself a reminder: There may be occasions when you want to send a message as a reminder which you can read when you’re signed in on another computer (e.g., you’re at home and want to ask webDotWiz a question when you come into a webDotWizards session at the Rushworth Community House). Yes, webDotWiz knows there’s another way but everybody doesn’t have more than one Live ID to use offline messaging with Live Messenger.

Messaging in Live Spaces is going to be a real time-saver and is much, much, much easier and faster than emailing.

More new Live Spaces features – title across top of page, Home, RSS feeds

Across the top of your Spaces page (assuming you’ve signed in) you’ll see a box (outlined with a white dashed line) into which you can drag any module or gadget. For example, you could put your title across the top of your page (which is the usual thing for a web page).

So webDotWiz has put his title and tag to fit right across the page. After moving the Title to the top "box" and Saving, he used Edit to change the text size to Largest.

Notice over at the top right, there’s a link to our Home page.

We’ve always been able to subscribe to other people’s Space as a whole (to save having to visit all our friend’s Spaces to keep up to date with new blog entries and photos). Now we can subscribe to selected categories on other people’s spaces – all webDotWiz’s categories have the RSS subscribe button next to them – for example:

That’s a brief rundown on some more of the new Live Spaces features.

webDotWiz wants to play around a bit with the Send a message function and explore the new functions for photo albums and photo viewing.

New features you’ll see on your Live Space

webDotWiz has just called up his Space (he’s been writing these posts in Live Writer – of course – so he’s just clicked Publish and his Space has loaded).

Firstly he noticed this:

Spaces Central is the better-named home page for Spaces (spaces.live.com) from where we started when we signed up. Now, though, it leads each of us – as long as we’re signed in – to our own home page which gives plenty of info – which of our friends have updated their space under What’s New, update our profile, and see any new comments others have put on our space. Here’s what the What’s New section looks like:

On the left, there are some statistics, pending requests to attend to (perhaps) and links to the main jobs we do on our Space (add a new blog, a new album or add new photos, and so on):

webDotWiz will do another post of a couple more things he noticed.