Revisiting Windows Live Mail

Almost 20 days ago I wrote about Windows Live, including Windows Live Mail. After twenty days of using Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Mail betas I am back to say a little more – especially about mail.

Windows Live Messenger is actually growing on me. I like it more and more. My favourite new feature is the ability to send offline messages, (although Microsoft is a little slow on offering this feature, ICQ had it in 1996). It’s something that’s really been missing from MSN Messenger. Other than that, no new opinions.

As for Windows Live Mail, the opposite is happening. I am liking it less and less. I am finding it incredibly slow. On March 4 I said it was faster than the old Hotmail but this is no longer the case. Maybe it’s not actually Windows Live Mail though, maybe it’s because I have to switch to IE to see my mail, or maybe it’s because more people are using Windows Live. Either way it has to speed up.
This brings me to my other point. Twenty days later and still no sign of Firefox support! Sometime soon I’d like to not have to have another browser open just to check my E-mail.

The third and final point after Twenty days of use: The advertising space at the top of the page is too big. I know that they have to make money on this product, and that it’s probably the same size as it was in Hotmail, but it seems too big. I think we notice the lack of space because of the addition of the preview pane, (which is great!), and because of the lack of speed. If messages loaded quickly in the preview pane it wouldn’t be a big deal, but when we have to wait forever to scroll it’s another story.
All in all, Windows Live Mail still has great features and shows tons of promise, but the speed needs to pick up and I need to be able to use it in browsers other than Internet Explorer. I’ll continue using Windows Live Mail through the beta period, (now I’m in it’s kind of my duty), and once it’s complete we’ll see what I want to do.

Fun with Google

So another one of those odd Google search results was brought to my attention. Try googling the word failure. The results are pretty funny for those of a certain political position.

As for the good old searches on Google? It looks like the “weapons of mass destruction” search doesn’t work any more, but French military victories does.

A hint: All of these are much more exciting with the “I’m feeling lucky” button. Go ahead, try them out!

Academy Awards – the real scoop

The Academy Awards have just wrapped up and here is what happened by my count:

  • Five mothers were thanked
  • The Academy was only thanked five times, (I thought everyone would do this)
  • A couple of people kissed their presenter
  • the word “crash” was said thirteen times
  • AND the word “brokeback” was said seventeen times
  • The show was thirty minutes longer than my TV guide webside said it would.

I counted as best I could – the show was kind of long. Correct me if you think I missed anything.

The Ballet

An educational website about Ballet.

The home page of
The home page of
Some detail work on
Some detail work on

The project the Ballet was developed from another website that I published years ago. Some of the primary objectives of the project were:

  • make it easy to update the site
  • bring the site design up to date
  • monetize the site
  • increase search engine visibility
Visitor Experience

The welcome page for the Ballet is designed to quickly show visitors what is new on the website and offer quick and easy access to all of the information on website. From a stylistic point of view the graphics and colour scheme represents the experience of attending the ballet at a theatre.

The most basic content pages, (and all pages on the site), maintain the theatrical style of the main page while presenting the content in an easy to read center zone. Each content area has a unique colour so the visitor will subconsciously know in which content area he or she is.

Visit the Ballet.

How the objectives were achieved:
Make it easy to update the site
I created a custom built Content Management System, (CMS), to add pages to the site with a minimum of programming. All of the information is stored in a MySQL database and is assembled using custom built PHP scripts. It is possible to add a whole new page, or simply articles or news items.
Bring the site design up to date
I gave the site a facelift getting rid of the frames that were in the old version and introducing the theatrical theme. I also updated the code to standards-compliant XHTML 1.1 and CSS making the website accessable to all visitors, including those with disabilities.
Monetize the site
I set aside some advertising space on the website, installed a web-based advertising management system and joined some advertising networks. Now I make a profit for almost every person that visits the website.
Increase search engine visibility
By doing the re-design in XHTML and CSS I inherently improved the visibility. Then I identified which searches are most popular and increased the density of those keywords. And finally, I wrote appropriate META tags for each page.