Archive for May, 2007
Last month I was contacted by Microsoft’s Press Office here in the UK asking me if I was interested in taking part in the Windows Live Hotmail celebrations, by speaking to the local media (newspapers/radio stations) to highlight the crucial role I had taken in developing Windows Live Hotmail. This of course sounded like a great opportunity, so I agreed and from there I was informed in more detail of what would happen.
I was informed that they were looking to develop regional PR (Press Release) stories around their key beta testers, one of which was me, and in order for this to happen, they were hoping to create some nice local news stories championing individuals and the role that they have played in the creation of Windows Live Hotmail.
After Microsoft had gathered some more information on myself and what I do, I was sent a draft copy of the Press Release and asked to verify all was ok. After all was verified I was told that I could expect the press release to go out to my Local Media in about 2 weeks.
Then came the waiting part… and then all of a sudden yesterday evening I got a phone call from Microsoft letting me know that the East Kent Gazette would like to speak to me, I phoned them up that afternoon and had a chat with them about myself and what I had been doing to help Microsoft in the developing process of Windows Live Hotmail. I was then asked if they could do a photo shoot ASAP. I agreed and this morning a guy came round to take photos of myself!
So hopefully sometime soon I’ll be in the papers. Can’t wait!
Here’s a final copy of the press release as sent out by Microsoft’s Press Office to my Local Media:
FROM BURGERS TO BYTES
Local Student Helps Build Hotmail
Twenty one year old Darren Straight could be described as Kent’s very own Bill Gates after helping software giant Microsoft build its new version of Windows Live Hotmail, which launched earlier this month.
Two years ago, the final year IT student from Sittingbourne, who is also a trainee restaurant manager for McDonald’s, was hand-picked by Microsoft to be one of the company’s chief new product testers in the UK for its Windows Live services. Now, in his spare time, Darren swaps books and burgers for â€˜bytes’ and â€˜bugs’, consulting on the company’s home office tools and internet services.
To celebrate the launch of the new webmail service, Windows Live Hotmail has formed a unique collaboration with the British Library entitled â€˜Email Britain’, to create the first ever archive of British emails today. The British public has been asked to forward a memorable or significant email from their inbox or sent items to firstname.lastname@example.org, for inclusion in a digital archive that will be stored at the British Library for future generations.
Seeking advice from testers like Darren has enabled Microsoft to produce the first ever webmail service created by emailers for emailers. His invaluable feedback throughout the development of the new Windows Live Hotmail has helped deliver an exciting new feature-rich product which will benefit emailers across the world.
As a frequent user of email, Darren recognised the need for the new Windows Live Hotmail to be easy to navigate and simple to use. As a result, web developers created a service with functions at the click of a mouse, including a drag and drop tool and a simple right-click menu.
Darren Straight says: It has been a privilege to work with Microsoft on the new Hotmail and really exciting that my thoughts on the service have had a direct impact on the way it’s been built. For me, Hotmail is more than just an email service it’s much more user-friendly and suited to my needs. It enables me to instantaneously communicate with friends and family across the globe with just a few clicks and is now even better – in part thanks to me!
Jo Wickremasinghe, Product Manager of Windows Live Services, says: We value the opinion of our users and their thoughts and suggestions are at the forefront of our minds when developing new products and services. The new Windows Live Hotmail has been designed to incorporate the feedback from our independent testers, including Darren, to make sure we’re creating a service that is exactly what our users want it to be. We’re really excited about the new service which is set to reinvigorate email communication and make it even easier than before.
For more information on Email Britain please visit: www.newhotmail.co.uk/emailbritain
As the exclusive online media partner for Live Earth, MSN has unveiled a new, enhanced LiveEarth.MSN.com Web site. As part of this new site, beginning today, people around the world can download a free, new Madonna song, Hey You, written exclusively for the Live Earth concert series and available only on MSN.com. Live Earth, a monumental music event, will bring together more than 2 billion people to combat the climate crisis. The concerts will be streamed live on July 7 (7/7/07) at http://LiveEarth.MSN.com.At MSN, we want to offer people amazing media experiences, like this exclusive song from Madonna and our Live Earth site, that not only inspire, but entertain, said Joanne Bradford, corporate vice president and chief media officer of MSN. As the exclusive online partner for Live Earth, we are able to give our 465 million monthly users an exciting and interactive experience that will educate people about climate change and encourage people to take action.
Madonna’s new song, Hey You, inspired by the upcoming Live Earth series of concerts, is now available to download exclusively on MSN.com and LiveEarth.MSN.com. MSN is pleased to offer this song in conjunction with Madonna and is proud to donate 25 cents for each of the first 1 million downloads to the Alliance for Climate Protection, in support of Live Earth. The new song will be performed live by Madonna on 7/7/07 during the Live Earth concert at Wembley Stadium in London.
Live Earth is about engaging a global audience with tools to tackle the climate crisis, and MSN plays an instrumental role in helping Live Earth reach its unprecedented audience, said Kevin Wall, Live Earth founder and producer. LiveEarth.MSN.com is the only place where people can join our movement anywhere, anytime.
Microsoft have today lauched Microsoft PopFly, but what is it? and how can it help you?
Read below for some Questions and Answers gatherd from the PopFly Website.
What is Popfly?
Popfly is the fun, easy way to build and share mashups, gadgets, Web pages, and applications. Popfly consists of two parts:
- Popfly Creator is a set of online visual tools for building Web pages and mashups.
- Popfly Space is an online community of creators where you can host, share, rate, comment and even remix creations from other Popfly users.
For more information, see the Overview Page.
What’s Microsoft’s motivation for releasing Popfly?
Popfly is another piece in our company-wide outreach in helping non-professional developers build everything from Xbox games to Robotics to custom Web applications using Windows Home Server. Popfly becomes the online home for building and sharing all types of non-professional projects, from static Web pages to mashups, to game mods.
Is Popfly free?
Yes, Popfly is free, but some 3rd party blocks services may require a subscription fee.
Can I build or share commercial applications using Popfly?
Yes, but some blocks are restricted to non-commercial use only.
What problem is Popfly Creator trying to solve?
Popfly Creator tools are designed to enable you to create Web experiences without being a programmer. Connecting services on the Web is as easy as drawing a line between two blocks. Popfly creator also enables you to create static Web pages and even insert custom mashups directly into your static page.
What problem is Popfly Space trying to solve?
Why did you call it Popfly?
Well, left to our own devices we would have called “Microsoft Visual Mashup Creator Express, May 2007 Community Tech Preview Internet Edition,” but instead we asked some folks for help and they suggested some cool names and we all liked Popfly.
Following the Microsoft Visual Studio Launch Party that happened in Second Life last week, Millionsofus have now posted some cool videos of the Visual Studio Island and launch Party.
And hey feel free to come and see me sometime in Second Life, there’s free drinks all round and music to dance too. My username is Darren Sonic and you will normally find me at my new house in Coders Cove.
Update: Just noticed a post about the launch by Therese Carfagno, who mentions my name, she’s right about the T-Shirt part, at that point in time the party wasn’t fully underway and I hadn’t started collecting eggs yet. Now I have both the T-Shirt’s, a VIP Access pass to the Blimp, a Coders Cove Jacket, a Coders Code VIP group member tag and best of all some land!
During a recent Halo 3 event, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Game Studios – Shane Kim revealed that he has spent some time with the Linden Lab guys (developers of Second Life). Apparently, the guys are trying to build and incorporate a Second Life on Xbox Live or YouTube, Facebook, any of those big social networking services and sites to the 360. Kim stated that it was a lot of hard work. Kim also revealed that he doubts whether Sony can achieve its online Home network for PlayStation 3; that third-party exclusives are a things of the past; and that Windows Live is the most important thing he’s working on.
“I doubt [Sony's] ability to implement it and execute it in a really rich and compelling way.
“PlayStation Network is not Xbox Live, it’s not even close. To think about layering [Home] on top of that–wow. The hardest part is not even creating the system, it’s regulating the behaviour and all of that too. Boy, that’s a massive investment in infrastructure. I actually believe that most gamers will always find more value in what we have on Xbox Live and now Games for Windows Live and how we’re building that out, which really started all about gaming features and now has added more like instant messaging, Video Marketplace, etcetera. That’s what I think is a much better approach, and that’s what our approach is going to be.”
You can read the full interview here.
Back on Thursday Microsoft along with the help of Millionsofus, launched the Microsoft Visual Studio Island (go there now) and with the opening party came a challenge, the Microsoft Visual Studio Challenge:
Welcome to the Microsoft Challenge
10 eggs containing puzzles have been hidden throughout Second Life. As you solve them, your game piece will record the results. Solve all 10 to unlock the blimp and reveal the future.
1.) Wear the Microsoft game piece in your objects folder.
2.) Follow the clues to locate the eggs hidden in the microsoft sim and throughout second life.
3.) When you find an egg touch it to obtain a puzzle.
4.) When you are ready select solve puzzle to input your answer using the mutiple choice dialog provided.
The first egg is in the Microsoft simulator.
Contact “Msft Millionsofus” to report any bugs or issues.
The Leader Board is as below, with myself (Darren Sonic) in fith place. Which means I was the fith person to get all
- 1st – Little Penguin
- 2nd – Ecocandle Riel
- 3rd – JW Russell
- 4th – Kira Yetto
- 5th – Darren Sonic
- 6th – Alonzo Karas
- 7th – CK Shan
- 8th – Liqueur Felix
- 9th – Nock Forager
- 10th - No one (N/A)
It’s been quite a while since I played Second Life, in fact I forgot how addictive it can get, especially games and challenges like this that keep you occupied for hours. While completing the Microsoft Visual Studio Challenge I found some really interesting places as well as some nifty items not to mention some great second life friends!
Here’s a photo I took of some of the winners so far:
And here’s some other photos of the Microsoft Visual Studio Island Building and the launch party.
The Great Escape is Europe’s leading music industry convention, offering three days packed full of high profile debates and interviews with key international players from Norman Cook to MP3.com founder Michael Robertson.
But passes are running out fast. So if you still want to go you better hurry up:
Windows Live Hotmail has launched and as a personal “Thank You” from the Windows Live Hotmail Team for all the Beta Testing I’ve done, I’ve been given this specially commissioned limited edition Windows Live Hotmail T-Shirt.
Only the top UK Windows Live Hotmail beta testers will receive this unique T-shirt design and we hope you’ll wear it with pride! If you see another T-shirt out on the street, make sure you say Hi!
Anyone else got one?
Update: Whoops in all the excitement of having received this cool T-Shirt I nearly forgot to say you’re welcome. It’s been a great pleasure Beta Testing Windows Live Hotmail. So thanks goes’ to both Microsoft, the Windows Live Hotmail Team and Red for the T-Shirt!