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Okay, I think this is pretty crappy.  Say what you want about Microsoft and you hate the company fine, but outright ignoring user expectations and preferences is wrong.

Scott Cate had found something weird happening on his experience with using browsers and the address bar search behavior.  Most modern browsers have a feature that if you type something into the address bar (not the search bar that they all also have), that it will execute a search using your configured provider and display the results.  Works great, convenient for the user and allows the user to provide options of how they want to search.  If you don’t like Live, fine, use Google.  Hate them both? Great, configure for Yahoo!.

But check out what Scott found as his Cox connection was stealing search traffic.  It displayed an incredibly lame search results page.  Here’s the facts:

  • It only happened in IE
  • It only happens from the IE address bar search
  • Cox reports this to be “enhanced error page” but there was no error page (search.live.com is a valid website)
  • Oh, and the “enhanced” is crap – their results suck
  • It does not happen with any other search provider configured (i.e., the same user action if configured for Google works as expected).

Lame.  Bad business.  Whatever.  In some Twittering with CoxTech1 (follow the thread), there seems to be a total lack of accountability other than “opt out” by providing some new DNS servers (yeah, that does not pass the mother-in-law test of usability btw).  It’s an interesting conversation to read.

I recently discovered that OpenDNS was doing the same thing.  Argh.  WTF people!?  Honor my settings, not yours.  If you truly cannot resolve a DNS request, that’s different, then help me.  But don’t override my preferences as a user!  I’ve found a few ways to fix this.

IE – Add a modified search provider

Since Cox and others are looking for the action that indicates it is coming from the address bar, remove that.  I’ve created a little page for fixing the IE/Live issue which does not affect at all the ability to use Live searching or Live suggestions searching.  You can find that button here.  Click the button and it will install the “Live Search – modified” search provider which overcomes this lameness.

Firefox fixing – keyword.url

Here’s how to fix it in Firefox:

  • Open Firefox and type about:config – it will ask you the obligatory “are you sure” – I’m guessing if you are reading this, you’re sure.
  • Filter for keyword.url 
  • Change that to whatever you want.  For Live it would be in the simplest form: http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q= or for Google: http://www.google.com.my/search?q=.

Now if you don’t mind, then don’t change anything.  Note: you can always revert back to the default if you modify either of these like above. 

Why is this bad?  I guess that’s the eye of the beholder.  Yes, I work for Microsoft and I think it is lame as an employee and shareholder.  But as loyal as I am to MSFT, I’m still a believer in honoring the customer and not stealing business.  Search is big business…advertisers pay for spots, etc.  Redirection of valid search results is stealing those advertisers’ wishes in my opinion.

But above all – these companies are not honoring me, as the user/customer, or my settings…that’s bad service.  If I could find that web site that generated the “shame on” signs I would have put a giant on here: shame on you Cox and others!

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the ability to embed messenger 'stuff' into your web applications, now you can!  just announced the ability to provide your status as well as have people interact with you directly on your web applications/sites.

how do you do it?  visit http://settings.messenger.live.com/applications/CreateHtml.aspx to create the html for your specific presence/messenger account.  you first have to enable the ability to do it (i.e., you'd be allowing anonymous visibility into your messenger status), but once you do, you'll be able to cut and paste.

on my blog (if you are reading this through a reader) i've added my presence indicator as well on my contact page, you can start a messenger chat with me in the browser.

very cool for messenger users/developers!  get yours today!

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now that the virtual earth version 5 sdk/control is out and available, some that may want to quickly move to v5 may find some refactoring required.  for me, it was pushpins.  when using v4 of vritual earth, i would normally create a VEPushpin first like this:

var pin = new VEPushpin(
        someId, // unique identifier of the pin 
        latLon, // a VELatLong object
        "images/custompin.png", // custom pin object
        "some title", // title
        "some details", // details
        "pinIcon", // icon style
        "pinTitle", // pin title style
        "pinDetails"); // pin details style

when i changed my app to use the v5 control, that instantly broke.  in v5 the pushpin is elevated to the same level as other shapes (or other shapes are downleveled to the same place, whatever you want to think of it).  now when you want to add a pin with some customization, you will want to create a shape like this:

var shape = new VEShape(
                  VEShapeType.Pushpin, // the type of shape
                  [latLong] // a VELatLong object

shape.SetCustomIcon(pinIcon); // if you wanted to set a custom icon

shape.SetTitle("<div class=\"pinTitle\">" + title + "</div>");
shape.SetDescription("<div class=\"pinDetails\">" + details + "</div>");


as you can see basically it isn't too much work, but essentially everything you add is a "shape" (either a pushpin, polyline, polygon).  the only thing i don't like about the new v5 way of doing things is in the v4 way, you could set the css class of the icon, title, details and it would apply it.  i think that was very simplified and allowed me greater control and separation of my styles from my code.  in v5 i now have to do that within my script.  :-( -- hey VE guys, can we change this?

of course, all this is documented in the updated , but i thought it might find it helpful real quick-like for those who may happen to read this :-)

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the virtual earth team just announced that virtual earth 5 api has been released!  this looks like a pretty significant upgrade from what i can tell.  i already switched an app i'm working on to using it and a lot of existing code didn't work.  simple adding of pushpins has changed, etc.  but with change comes GREAT customization -- well done team!

take a look and start using it!!!