Category Archives: Technology

Great Review of Latest Windows Live Hotmail Update


Microsoft this week updated Windows Live Hotmail with some pretty hefty improvements. This is notable for a number of reasons, the most obvious being the company just issued the latest Hotmail version back in May (see my review), just three months ago. And that update came after many, many years of testing. That the Windows Live team at Microsoft is able to turnaround revisions very quickly should never again be questioned: It’s one thing to update a comparatively minor service, but Hotmail is used by 280 million active users. This is a big deal, folks.

Here is a list of new stuff, taken from our blog:

Performance: We’ve been hearing you loud and clear across the world: speed is one of the most important aspects of a web-based email service. We’ve spent more time in this release identifying what parts of the product are slowest and fixing those. We hope that you notice an improvement when this update is released to your account, and we’ll continue our work on performance in future releases.

Quality of Service: Our last release went quite smoothly, and we’ve been continuing to monitor the live site to make sure that we’re providing e-mail that is reliable – you always want to be able to get to your mail, and we hear you!

More storage! Just when you were wondering how you’d ever fill up 2 or 4 GB of mail, we’ve given you more storage. Free users will get 5 GB and paid users will get 10 GB of Hotmail storage.

Mail retention changes: We’ll be increasing the amount of time that we leave messages in your junk and deleted items folders over the next few months.

Contacts de-duplication: Do you have five different entries for the same person in your Contacts? Yeah, me too, but not anymore. We’re the first webmail service to roll out “contacts de-duplication”. If you get a message from “Steve Kafka” and click “add contact” but there’s already a Steve Kafka, we’ll let you know and let you add Steve’s other e-mail address to your existing “Steve Kafka” contact entry. We’re just trying to be smarter to make your life easier and faster. There’s also a wizard you can run to clean up your existing duplicate contacts.

Show content more easily: Hotmail blocks images and links in messages from unknown senders for your protection from spammers and phishing scams. Now you can click directly on the gray square or link to decide if you want to show content in a message. (It’s still not a good idea to show content, especially images, in messages from spammers. Just loading the images in a spam lets them know that you’re reading their e-mails.)

Spam-fighting: We’ve made it possible to report phishing attacks like those fake bank notices or fraudsters who want your checking account number so they can supposedly make a deposit. Just click “report phishing” if you think you’ve found a dangerous scam. In the junk folder, click “not junk” to help train our filters. Every mail you report does help make our spam filter smarter, but fighting spam takes constant vigilance. Spammers always find a new trick whenever we thwart their old tricks.

Right-to-left languages: Support for Hebrew and Arabic is now out of beta! If you speak these languages or want to see Hotmail in a totally new way, go to Options and change your language. We fixed a lot of bugs for users of Hebrew and Arabic, so we hope the whole UI works better for you now.

More space for your email, a.k.a. smaller header: We heard you asking for more space for your mail, so we shrunk the header in this update.

Forwarding messages: You can now forward mail from your Hotmail account to other accounts. For now, if you have a free account, you can only forward your mail to other Hotmail accounts. (Paid accounts get more choices.) This is great idea if you have a few different addresses and want to consolidate your mail.

Cobranding: This is what we call showing the logo of an organization for whom we are hosting email. Hotmail is currently hosting e-mail for universities (and a few ISPs) around the world, so we show their logos in Hotmail.

Accepting meeting requests: If you receive a meeting request, such as one sent from Outlook, you can now click “accept” and have it added to your Calendar. This had existed for years in MSN Hotmail, and we’re adding it to Windows Live Hotmail now.

Vacation replies: Now Hotmail can automatically tell your friends why you haven’t written them back in a few weeks.

Classic version jump to page: In the classic version, we’ve made it easier to jump to different pages of mail. This will be very handy as you grow into your new 5 GB or 10 GB account.

And finally… Drumroll please… we know this is going to be a big hit with a lot of you out there in blog land. I hope you remember this as the Hotmail team listening to what you want.

You can turn off the Today page (if you want to). If you’d rather see your inbox immediately upon login, you have the option to turn off the page of MSN news (called the Today page). The choice is yours.

Windows Live Hotmail Launches Worldwide

I’ve been working on the launch plans for Windows Live Hotmail at work for the past 3+ months and we finally finished!!!! Congratulations to the team!

(This is why I haven’t been posting much lately)

My favorite quote so far from the articles is:

Hotmail Web-Mail Beta Test Ending

That’s a headline I thought I’d never see–up there with “NASA Deems Pig Test Flight Successful” or “Nationals Take NL Pennant” (sigh). But it’s true: One of the three Web-mail services is about to dump “beta” from its name.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that its replacement for Hotmail–first named Live Mail, then Windows Live Hotmail–is launching worldwide. That means that a beta test that began more than 18 months ago is now in its last few days.

Some online links:

In print:

  • Wall Street Journal print edition
  • New York Times
  • USA Today
  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Denver Post
  • Sydney Morning Herald
  • PC Magazine

Google Search: “Search” = MS

In case it changes, here’s what it shows as of Saturday 11:14pm:

Live Search

Live Search. Type search term Search. Web · Images · News · Maps · Classifieds. Find the latest gift guides and shops at MSN Shopping. – 8k – Mar 30, 2007 – CachedSimilar pages


Enables users to search the Web, Usenet, and images. Features include PageRank, caching and translation of results, and an option to find similar pages. Stock quote for GOOG – 6k – CachedSimilar pages

Google Help : Search Features

To find a product for sale online, use Froogle – Google’s product search You will not see the other search results at all. An “I’m Feeling Lucky” search – 67k – CachedSimilar pages
[ More results from ]

Metasearch Search Engine – searches the BEST Search Engines – Search the Web with metasearch Search Engine. – 6k – CachedSimilar pages

The article is right: this is scary because it could happen to anyone.

Matt, a 16-year-old kid in Arizona, was accused of 9 counts of possession of child pornography, probably downloaded to his computer via spyware.

“The computer had accessed a ‘Yahoo’ account where there was child pornography,” Andrew Thomas, Maricopa County district attorney said. “That was the basis for the search warrants issued by a court.” Yet, the evidence submitted by the Phoenix police department did not identify a specific user. Matt’s clean reputation, his good grades and protective family could not stand up to the cold fact that child porn was on that computer. The police and the district attorney had the incriminating photos from the Bandys’ computer and the prosecutors were determined to send Matt away.

. . .

“They didn’t care that I denied it, they just kept on asking me and kept on thinking that I did it,” [Matt] said. “They just had it built in their mind that this kid is guilty, and we’re going to make sure that he’s convicted. No matter what the means are.”

The Bandy family contends that [the prosecutor] was on a mission and that his desire to convict was so strong that he ignored important evidence — like the fact that Matthew passed a lie detector test. The fact that the test indicated that Matt was telling the truth wasn’t taken into account.

And that’s when the Bandy family really began to fight back. They hired two polygraph examiners who confirmed Matthew was telling the truth. Then they ordered two psychiatric evaluations which concluded that Matthew had no perverted tendencies.

Matt was cleared of those 9 counts, and ultimately went free, but his life is now changed forever.

What’s scary is that Matt probably had a MUCH better chance of being cleared since he’s a 16-year-old kid. What happens if an innocent adult’s computer were hacked or had some bad spyware on it? That person would probably have been wrongly jailed for life. That’s really scary!

Windows Home Server. Must Buy.

Home Server is where your family will store all of its important files. All music, video, photos, documents and even some software will sit on the Home Server, and all the computers in the home will be able to access it over your network (wired or wireless) as if they were on the computers themselves. You will even be able to access your files over the internet (don’t worry, everything is protected), and the killer feature: Home Server streams to the Xbox 360 and other Media Center Extenders.

Home Server also keeps your computers protected from disaster, by backing up every byte of data on every computer in the home. It can take an unlimited amount of storage space, backing up to internal and external hard drives the entire contents of every PC, not once, but twice, letting you restore files or entire PCs immediately. It even stores versions of files, so you can roll back that important spreadsheet to how it looked two weeks ago, or undo four days of awful video editing by your talentless sibling.

There are three primary purposes of Home Server:

  • Automated Computer Backup – Home Server will sit in the middle of your house and completely backup the entire hard drives of every computer connected to it, automatically. Lose anything, even an entire computer, and you will be able to restore it. You will even be able to restore older versions of files, taking advantage of a valuable feature in Windows Vista.
  • Access Everything From Anywhere – With a Home Server, you will be able to access all of your files from any computer, inside or outside your home, as well as accessing your home computers from outside the home. You will centrally store your files to make them easier to access at all times.
  • Grows With You – Home Server will be designed to make it easier for users to expand its capabilities, especially making it easy to add more hard drives.

What’s even better is that Home Server will be available for purchase in conjunction with an HP server, giving you the software and hardware in one package. (The rumors are that the server and software will be sold for around $500, but I think that’s a low estimate.)
I can’t wait for this to come out. Personally, I like this more than the “storage in the sky” idea. With this, I own the actual server that my data lives on, not Google, Microsoft, or whoever created the storage service. To me, having full control of the server on which my data lives well outweighs the negatives of being more susceptible to power outages and having to pay to replace dead components.
More info | News Article

Best Idea Ever

The Fish ‘n Flush Aquarium

Both fresh water and salt water can be added to our 2.2-gallon aquariums, but live coral should not be used. Fish ‘n Flush provides a dual-filter system, making it safe for children. It also provides two nine-inch plastic plants, a fill valve, and a complete flushing system. All you need are water, fish and food.

These acrylic tanks are fully functional, impact resistant and stronger than china. They are completely separate from the toilet tank and are designed to fit directly against the companion tank reservoir.