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Windows Live Alerts redux

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Oct-2006 09:11

It was just yesterday that I posted about a couple of things that were misbehaving on Windows Live Alerts, but already one of these is fixed.

The custom alerts (such as the one from Geekzone you subscribe to receive alerts on your MSN or mobile phone when a new article goes up on the main site) are now listed on Windows Live Alerts:

Windows Live Alerts management
Thank you to the Windows Live team for acting fast on this!

I've decided to do a new blog post for this update because I wanted it to have the same exposure as my original post.

Windows Live Alerts & Windows Live Mail Annoyance

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Oct-2006 13:13

I really like MSN Alerts, recently renamed Windows Live Alerts. It's a handy feature, and you can configure it to send a SMS to your moble phone wen certain alerts arrive.

But it's incomplete. Windows Live team, please fix it!

Ok, now that I have your attention I will go ahead and explain the background and the problem.

For example, we provide Geekzone Alerts, based on Windows Live Alerts. It is a service you can subscribe with your Windows Live Id account and receive a notification on Windows Live Messenger, your Windows Live Mail, or any other e-mail account - even on your mobile phone (as a SMS) when a new item is posted on Geekzone.

This works great. If you log into Windows Live Alerts you can even add other alerts to your list.

But here starts the annoyance. The Geekzone Alers was introduced on an old service, later acquired by Microsoft. They never did an integration job. You can't see the Alert settings on Windows Live Alerts. You can see the latest messages received, but you can't turn it on or off. You can only do it through our admin page.

Why is this a big deal? Because these alerts come out on Windows Live Messenger, or your mobile phone, but down the track you probably forgot where to go to manage these alerts - and it's not on Windows Live Alerts.

Another weird thing: all of a sudden Windows Live Mail (Hotmail) is sending to my mobile phone a SMS notification of any urgent messages sent to my account. I don't want these! I never set it on. But there's nowhere to turn it off. It's not on Windows Live Alerts, and not on Windows Live Mail. I am stuck with this.

The Windows Live Alerts site does not list any of my alerts, except the ones I setup through that site. And that's what's broken.

More strange stuff? You want to setup your mobile to receive notifications via SMS? Try Mobile MSN. Oh, in New Zealand it redirects to XtraMSN, and it's nothing to do with Mobile MSN. If this happens, try the US Mobile MSN site instead. Thanks Telecom New Zealand for breaking the web.

MSN Mobile setup

Rigth. Once there you can setup your mobile phone for SMS notifications. But why is this not linked from Windows Live Alerts?

Microsoft, I see a lot of Windows Live services coming out. I am in the beta group for Windows Live Essentials, which brings a fancy Windows Live Dashboard with links to the Windows Live services you use. But it's not compatible (yet) with Internet Explorer 7, so I (and millions of other users) can't use it yet.

It doesn't matter. These services are so many, and so spread with no central control that I am afraid people won't use them simply because they can't find their way around.

For me, right now, please put all Windows Live Alerts configuration in the same place. This includes the damn Windows Live Mail notifications that are nowhere to be found, the custom Windows Live Alerts from websites such as Geekzone and many others, and the mobile configuration.

And Telecom New Zealand, stop hijacking those Mobile MSN pages, you are not adding any value.

Microsoft Windows Vista RC2 Build 5744-16384 available now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Oct-2006 10:30

Time to do it again: a new Microsoft Windows Vista build is available on Connect now. I am currently downloading it (should be done in a few hours):

Microsoft Windows Vista Beta build

Apparently Windows Vista (v5744-16384) for X86 and X64 (English) is the last build available for testing (but don't quote me on this). You should use your current product keys when installing this software.

Microsfot Platforms and Services Co-President Jim Allchin has just posted a special announcement letter of Windows Vista RC2 to Microsoft Connect for the Windows Vista Technical Beta Testers:

People asked for it, and here it is, Windows Vista RC2! We wanted you to be the first to get these bits; next week they’ll be available to a broader set of customers via MSDN and TechNet.

All your great feedback has helped us focus on nothing but bug fixes over the past month since RC 1 — each and every day. There are thousands of quality improvements since Windows Vista RC1. You’ll probably notice improvements in performance, application compatibility, as well as fit and finish work. We will continue improving quality until RTM. If you are an ISV, please use this build (certainly at least RC1 or later) to get certified. Visit for more information on logo certification.

You are integral to this creation and refinement process. We are just around the corner from RTM and shipping this great product to the world. This will be the last build made available prior to RTM, so please keep the feedback coming so we can hit the finish line. Thanks for your help in finishing the job!


The downloads are:

- vista_5744.16384.061003-1945_x86fre_client-LRMCFRE_EN_DVD.iso, 2,552.57 MB
- vista_5744.16384.061003-1945_x64fre_client-LRMCxFRE_EN_DVD.iso, 3,609.21 MB

Also found out that they now have drivers for the Microsoft Fingerprint scanner. Nice! I have one of those and couldn't make it work under Windows Vista. It's a rebadged Digital Persona device. Very handy (no pun intended).

Clearification: A Rare Condition

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 6-Oct-2006 11:19

Hmmm. Interesting. Funny. Intriguing. It's all that - and more. Or less. This is a series of short episodes, where this guy narrates things like he was Jerry Macguire. The whole site's got some strange weird thing going on. Check it out: And this is the first episode (1 of 7):
I am subscribing to the RSS feed, just to find out what's the story all about (obviously something to do with Microsoft Windows Vista, but we really need to watch the whole series). You can download episodes, embed, download wallpapers, and the soundtrack. The thoughts part of the site is, well... deep.

The Microsoft Developer Show Podcast

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Sep-2006 12:30

If you are a developer using Microsoft technologies in general, or just interested, then I am offering a shameless plug to the Microsoft Developer Show podcast show, now being hosted by Nick Randolph:

What better way to announce a new host for The Microsoft Developer Show than to use the defacto standard for testing any new technology - writing Hello World!  As you might guess this post has a number of purposes:

Before I go I suppose that I should give a brief introduction about who I am.  Well firstly my name is Nick Randolph and I currently work for Intilecta based initially here in NZ, but returning to Perth at the end of the year.  Secondly, I’m a Microsoft MVP - Device Application Development (ie .NET Compact Framework) on which you can find more information here. My most recent achievment is that I am officially published with a book titled Professional Visual Studio 2005. Lastly, with whatever free time I have, I do some other activities through SoftTeq, such as helping run the Perth .NET Community of Practice.

Well, that’s enough about me. Join me over the coming weeks as we get down and dirty with all things Developer about Microsoft.

Nick is one of the tech guys I meet every Wednesday for coffee, chat and general geek stuff at Astoria Cafe, here in town. He's here in New Zealand for a few more months, before going back to Perth, Australia.

The New York Times Reader

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Sep-2006 11:12

During Geekzone 2006 Microsoft's Nathan Mercer showed us the new The New York Times Reader (download), which was first seen on a post on

Times Reader is built on WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), which is Microsoft's advanced UI technology for applications. To check out the WPF features in Times Reader, try some of these things:
  • Resize the window or change the font size - WPF automatically reflows the content and adjusts the number of columns.
  • Browse around the content itself - notice that the ads are themselves WPF (i.e. reflowable).
  • If you’re running on Windows Vista RC1, try a search from the Windows search bar – you’ll see NY Times news articles appear as files in the search.
  • Try the search link (just under the back/forward arrows). The articles are arranged in a heat map tile panel view, with the size denoting the importance of the article. This seems to be a work in progress, as some searches don't have many results at this point (e.g. a search for "microsoft").
  • Click the Topic Explorer (right-click > Topics, select a topic, then click the "Topic Explorer" radio button in the search results) and see an interconnected web of related articles.

  • All very interesting, as you can see on these screenshots below:

    The cool stuff is that this technology is the same used to create Microsoft Codename Max, which I commented about before.

    Where are you Microsoft Connect Beta Tester?

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Sep-2006 18:04

    This is quite cool. The guys at the Windows Vista Team Blog have taken their time to produce maps from all regions of the world, showing where Windows Vista Beta testers are:

    Microsoft Windows Vista Beta Testers in New Zealand

    We have approximately 30,000 Vista Beta testers in this program now.
    There are Windows Vista beta testers in 125 countries.
    We have testers in all 50 U.S. States, Puerto Rico, Guam and several other U.S. locations.
    Exactly 50% of our testers are somewhere other than the U.S.
    The northernmost person appears to be in Fairbanks, Alaska at 64.85 degrees N. latitude though it's a close call with a person in Iceland.
    The southernmost person appears to be in the Kerguelen Islands at 49.56 degrees S latitude.
    We have 1 person on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands.
    We also have a person in the Tuamoto archipelago which is almost exactly half-way between South America and Australia.
    If we had someone in the Yukon and someone in Labrador/Newfoundland we would have all Canadian provinces and territories represented.
    In the U.S. we have testers in over 6,000 zip codes, or well over 10% of all zip codes in the U.S

    The pushpins are only for the Windows Vista beta testers registered on Connect, the oficial beta test site for Microsoft. Go have a look at their blog post for other maps.

    If you are in New Zealand, registered on Connect and think you can see yourself in the map, leave a comment here!

    Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC)

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Sep-2006 22:36

    If you are like me and is trying to use your Windows Mobile device with Windows Vista through the new Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC) then you might be asking "Where is WMDC?" and "Why wasn’t it included with the last Vista refresh?"

    Well, I got an answer from Microsoft, and I will just pass it on:

    The Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC) Application is a separate component from Windows Vista. Windows Vista RC1 includes the WMDC Driver which enables you to sync music, acquire pictures and browse the contents of your device. The full WMDC application enabling you to synchronize email, contacts, calendar appointments and more ships separately. We’re looking forward to being able to release the first RC soon.

    Windows Vista Install Fair

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Sep-2006 11:18

    As commented during the Geekzone 2006 (which was a really cool event, you should pencil some time to attend Geekzone 2007!), Microsoft is running a series of "Windows Vista Install Fair" events in the USA.

    In short: bring your PC, have Microsoft Windows Vista installed and get a free copy of Microsoft Windows Vista when it is released to the public.

    Upgrade Windows XP SP2 (Home, Professional, Tablet PC and Media Center Edition) PC’s or Laptops with unfamiliar applications, configurations and devices to the latest pre-release version of Windows Vista Ultimate Edition.

    Acquire valuable feedback about the Windows Vista Upgrade experience from the broader community to ensure that Windows Vista will be the most rock solid release of Microsoft Windows ever.

    Can we make some pressure and have Microsoft New Zealand moving to do something similar here?

    Microsoft Codename Max shows RSS feeds

    By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Sep-2006 11:27

    Yesterday I posted about the problems I found while trying to install Microsoft Codename Max, the image sharing program based on some new cool graphics technologies.
    I now blame this on the fact that I was downloading the installer at the same time the Microsoft team was updating their page, because after downloading the installer again (and removing the WinFX component) I got all working flawlessly. I noticed the new installer was 305KBytes, while the first download was only 105KBytes.

    Now that I have all working, I also had time to try the new feature on Microsoft Codename Max: RSS feeds! The program can now consume RSS and ATOM feeds, and it with the same technology used to create the slideshows with the "mantle" style. That means that when you read the feed you actually see a page that looks like a newspaper, instead of simple list of articles.

    This is pretty cool, have a look on the Geekzone Blog RSS feed:

    Microsoft Codename Max RSS feeds

    Images are resized to fit the columns, and each page lists the articles in different position, making it fun to read.

    If you are looking for a no frills RSS reader (yes, not many options there, so don't think of "Mark As Read", "Refresh Interval", etc) then this one looks an interesting option. I still recommend Newsgator for some serious RSS reading though, because of the ability to read the feeds on your web browser, or read on your Microsoft Outlook or mobile device and having the read status synchronised in all locations.

    Remember the Microsoft Codename Max is a beta, a "showcase". I actually see that some of the user interface design from Windows Vista are now coming to Windows XP (think Microsoft Codename Max, Windows Live Mail Desktop, Windows Live Messenger, and Microsoft Office 2007).

    freitasm's profile

    Mauricio Freitas
    New Zealand

    I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

    I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

    Subscribe now to my blog RSS feed or the Geekzone RSS feed.

    If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

    Here's is my full disclosure post.

    A couple of blog posts you should read:

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