TechBytes Audiocast – Episode 23 – 02/01/11

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Intro music: “I fought the troll” by Tom Smith.  You can find more of his work here.

Hosts: Tim (OpenBytes) Roy (Techrights) Gordon (Thistleweb)

Featured Track: “L.E.O” by Oleg Serkov

You can download episode 23 of the TechBytes show here.

Its 2011 and your favourite three hosts bring you the first episode of the new year.  Whilst covering topics from the news over a traditionally quieter period, the main focus of the show are issues/tech’s over Xmas.  As is our usual way, we digress into various semi-related and not so related side topics, but then being unprepared for these events makes it all the more fun!

* Hotmail goes missing? – Lost in the post gets a whole new meaning when its swiped from your inbox.  Who’s to blame? Whats the cause? We discuss this piece of breaking news.

* Consoles, Kinect RROD’s the 360? – We also delve into a small discussion about future tech, BluRay and the bad idea that was HDdvd.

* Sales figures for Amazon over Xmas, The Kindle was best selling gadget, so what was the number one selling console device?  It was a controller, but it wasn’t one that has you jumping around in front of your TV.

* Patents, HTC , Microsoft Tax – Why Microsoft can “win” even if it doesn’t create the things you buy.

* Gordon, Roy and myself give our predictions for 2011. Is Gordon going to play safe with a football prediction?  Whats Roy’s prediction? and when do I think Ballmer will be leaving Microsoft? – Download the show and find out!

Ending Track

Our ending track is one which I found almost by accident (and what a lucky find it was).  Oleg Serkov, a Russian born guitarist is creating some excellent music, which for me puts me in mind of Joe Satriani.  Beautiful instrumental with a melodic lead guitar makes Oleg’s work an instant hit with me.  The track at the end of the show is called L.E.O and you can find more of his music here:

You can also visit his homepage here.

In the meantime, to accompany the ending track, here is Oleg performing L.E.O live at the Roks Club last year:

Goblin – /

You can also contact me on Skype: tim.openbytes

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Lost in the post? – Hotmail goes missing.

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Over the Christmas period, many people felt let down by the numerous postal and parcel services in the UK.  To be fair though, in addition to it being a very busy period, the UK had been covered in a blanket of snow, which whilst it was predicted, as it always the case, the UK comes to a grinding halt almost before the first flake has hit the ground.

Microsoft (and its Hotmail service)  seems to be having similar problems, but unlike the UK where your post merely fails to get to you on time, this is more like its delivered to your house, then someone nicks it after its been read.  Let me explain:

Its being reported that some Hotmail users are complaining that their Hotmail has disappeared from their inbox.  As if people hadn’t already lost a little faith in cloud storage and Microsoft products (after Kin Studio is announced by Verizon to be shuting down) then disappearing mail may very be the final straw to have them looking to other providers.

The BBC reports that:

Users around the world say e-mails are missing from their inbox and from other folders within their Hotmail accounts……A spokeswoman for Microsoft said that the issue of missing e-mails was not a widespread problem.

So I suppose all is  ok then?  The majority of people won’t suffer any problems and that statement will appease the few “lucky” people it does?  I am sure the victims of whatever is at play here will merely put on a smile and think “Damn my rotten luck, at least though everyone else is ok

I wonder who/what Microsoft will blame this time? I wonder how isolated this really is?  The BBC (source for this article) doesn’t go into too much depth on this subject and we can probably expect the same few lines from Click, if it even gets a mention at all – afterall this is the BBC and the subject is Microsoft product shortcomings.

There are some other links coming in at time of writing:

Goblin – /

You can also contact me on Skype: tim.openbytes

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Bing and gone? A Microsoft car/engine? Yusuf Mehdi conjures up a disturbing thought

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Yusuf Medhi wants us to think of Microsoft cars and engines in relation to Bing.....I'd personally rather not.

Yusuf Mehdi.  Ring any bells?  For me anyway the name certainly didn’t spring off the page for me, but then even Microsoft’s desperate (and repeated) invasions into the commercial breaks of my TV viewing with that Bing advert have failed to spark an interest in a search/decision/whatever engine that Microsoft have produced.  For your information Yusuf Mehdi is Bing’s Senior Vice President.

I said when Bing first slopped onto the scene that I thought Microsoft were merely calling it a “decision engine” so that when the comparison to Google was made they could simply turn around and quote that (in the face of the massive market share Google has over Bing)  I also said at the time that if Bing ever did manage to overtake Google in the market share that I was sure Microsoft would change it back to being a search engine again.  We all remember the MSlive roots?  No? Thats not surprising, I don’t think many people had an interest in that product either.

Now we have Yusuf Mehdi making a press release regarding the Yahoo deal with Bing.  And this is new is it? I could have sworn that I and a multitude of other sites reported this quite a while ago.  Here’s a remark he is reported to have said (in relation to Bing being a choice to Google):

Just being able to be a credible choice, for us, is a huge step forward. And that’s what we’ll accomplish with Yahoo.

And then consider, this is Microsoft trying to make a humble statement.  I would also draw your attention to the article I wrote about Microsoft settling for scraps from the table which you can read here.  There are also rumours about an AOL deal involving search and I wonder if Microsoft is now determined to bring about Bing usage by making purchases of other peoples market share.  Has todays Microsoft come to this?  Settling for scraps in the hope that once they are all put into the trough together they may provide sustenance?  I’ll let you decide and also ask if Bing is really a credible choice, either for you as a customer or just as an everyday run of the mill user.

You can read about AOL & Microsoft here.

Yusuf Mehdi is also reported to have said:

Think of it as we’re providing the engine for our car and for Yahoo’s car, and Yahoo will be able to brad their car and provide some value on that. …Once we start to merge with Yahoo, then we’ll start providing some set of these [Bing] capabilities over to them, as well.

Road chaos is a common problem. Lets hope Yusuf's analogy of Microsoft being involved in car manufacture is only an analogy...Can you imagine the chaos a BSOD would cause?

A Microsoft car? A Microsoft engine? What a disturbing thought. Worse than that, you go to the showroom buy a shiny Yahoo car, drive it down the road and then find out it has a Microsoft engine when your local criminal exploits a back-door and drives it remotely to his lockup garage.

Expect in a future of Microsoft vehicles the roads to be jammed with BSODing cars and vehicles patrolling red light districts as their XXX malware infected engines take them on a journey they won’t forget in a hurry.

Forced Taglines on emails are not liked…Microsoft has finally noticed?

Yes folks, Microsoft seems to have finally noticed that people don’t like a forced tag line on the bottom of their emails sent from a Hotmail account and they are soon to be gone.

As I read it, either Microsoft was completely oblivious to the fact that nobody liked them, or they were and merely didn’t want to do anything about it…until now.   But why now?  When Microsoft is involved their actions are often a mystery, just like recently when we questioned Kin and the purpose it served.  Maybe Microsoft is worried that with Gmail, the increasingly popular Wave which is now out of invite beta or the plethora of other alternatives will further damage their stake in another online product?  Either way, I don’t think it can/will attract new users and I don’t see Gmail users hanging on just until Microsoft got rid of them in order to switch.

I think there are (in the main) two types of Hotmail user, the “mainstream” who after getting a new PC then bombarded with a salvo of Microsoft products/services/promises, signs up or the Microsoft advocate for whom a Hotmail account is part of the uniform.

Over on Brian Hall of Microsoft says things a little differently:

But now people just don’t like taglines in their email, and whilst they did drive awareness and clicks, they are going to be taken out in the upcoming Hotmail release.

“But now”? I don’t think they ever did, so you either were not listening or did not care?

For the people who looked elsewhere and found the excellent Gmail or (I might add) Gmx I would suggest that really there is no reason to switch – yet again Microsoft, too little too late.

Of course, users of Microsoft’s blogging service will be no strangers to this apparent ignoring.  For as long as I can remember Microsoft Blog service has been hit with a plethora of spam which would fill the comments section with offers of trainers, jewelry and all manner of dodgy offers.  I brought this up with a Microsoft Advocate over on Microsoft Watch about two years ago and its only now in the last few weeks Microsoft seems to have had the problem fixed….for the time being.  Users of WordPress I don’t believe suffered like Microsoft users did, since my blogs inception Ive had very little trouble with spam Akismet does a great job.

But don’t worry folks, in June 2010, Brian Hall says in his blog article title:

Hotmail respects your inbox

Lovely. And what? it didn’t before? Is that because you are now so desperate to keep hold of any online service in the face of so many better offerings?  I’ll let the readers decide.

Its not all bad news though!  Microsoft seems to have found the silver lining in the cloud (no pun intended) and is going to try and sue a group of spammers allegedly responsible for attacking a Microsoft service allowing certain spam messages to be considered legitimate. Now Microsoft, if sucessful are you going to be sharing that money between the victims of these spammers or are you going to keep it for yourself?  – I’ll let the readers decide the answer there.

But it proves one thing to me, Microsoft seems to be willing to try and find a profit in absolutely anything.   I did wonder for a while how the spammers circumvented the filter software (since Akismet for WordPress is so reliable), to which I found this report and only needed to read the first six words for my answer:

Two anti-spam systems developed by Microsoft

I think Ive seen enough of Microsoft developed systems to not need any further explanation.

Goblin –

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

NEWS: Watch out! Microsoft Toolbar about!

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As if users didnt have enough options with toolbars, it seems like every company is desparate for you to have theirs, and now Microsoft is no exception.  In an attempt to gain more market penetration with their MSLive and to tackle Google (which in anycase is a household name now) Microsoft have banded together with Sun systems and agreed that their toolbar should be offered allong side a Java upgrade. Aswell as offering the access to the MSlive search through your toolbar, you get news and access to hotmail, excellent, just what we always wanted another toolbar with features we dont need or already have.

Microsoft are reported to have said “This agreement with Sun Microsystems is another important milestone in our strategy to secure broad-scale distribution for our search offering, enabling millions more people to experience the benefits of Live Search,” – Benefits? What benefits? Please elaborate.

Well thats lovely Microsoft.  Not able to attract users to the MSLive search “offering” from Google, youre now going to bundle your toolbar along with a Java upgrade and hope users take up your “kind” offer.  Thats just what everyone needs ANOTHER toolbar, and I feel sorry for the people who dont notice your “kind gift”

Microsoft is far too late to tackle google (IMO).  Forgeting about MS’s poor image on the many forums and blogs, people use Google because it has now almost become a global word for search.

MSlive is obviously what they are interested in today (it will change next week) and the shill posters have already started to appear claiming its a more relevant search than Google.  I took one of these people up on that and tested.  Both return about the same results, although MSlive (IMO) wont be used because of the damaged MS image (IMO) and the fact that everyone just likes to “do a google”  Its also worth noting that I havent had a response to a request of the shill to give us an example search.

You can read the article on the very good PC Magazine site, by clicking HERE

I wonder what methods MS will use next?  I would hope people send a message out to MS by not accepting the toolbar.  I will certainly be making sure it goes nowhere near anyones machine that I know.