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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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contest alert, contest alert!  i wrote a while back about creating your own virtual earth 3d tour using collections and the live platform.  by doing this you can create your own windows media video file of your locations using virtual earth 3d rendering.

well, now you can benefit.  the virtual earth team is hosting a contest.  what do they want you to do?  they want you to build up some interesting collections and create the virtual tour.  after you've done that, post it on soapbox or youtube (or both) and submit your entry.   

this should be a fun few minutes for you to mess around with virtual earth 3d.  they've posted some samples such as a major league baseball tour, etc.  since i'm ineligible, here's some ideas noodling in my head:

    • seven wonders of the world
    • united states war battlefields
    • government capital buildings
    • royalty residences (i.e. US president white house, parliament, whatever the dude who runs italy lives in)
    • amusement parks
    • nfl football fields
    • airports

anyway, have fun with it, get creative and submit your entries!

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with the latest release of the maps.live.com site and virtual earth v6, there are some cool end-user features that you can take advantage of as well.  one of them is the ability to create a virtual tour of your collections (a collection is a group of waypoints you've saved in your profile.

perhaps you have a collection of your favorite vacation spots, or your locations of your organization's offices, or your an individual speaker and want a virtual tour of your stops for some odd reason.  well now you can and there are a few ways to do it.  first, head on over to http://maps.live.com and sign in (not required, but is required to save a collection).  to create a collection, simply search for locations and then you'll have the option to "add to collection" which you would do.  i created a collection of places starting at my house, then to a few baseball stadiums, then to disney and vegas...c'mon, sounds like a great trip!  here's what it looks like:

after i have a collection, i have a few options.  from the actions menu (of the collections pane) i can immediately do a tour in 3d:

this uses the virtual earth 3d control, which is available as a download (free) for internet explorer and firefox.  when i choose that option, the 3d tour starts and my first point in my collection.  on the left side i now see a tour pane:

had i edited the properties of my waypoints with other metadata like a photo, notes, etc. they would have showed up in this area.  you may also notice the play and record buttons on the bottom of that area.  here's were some of the other sharing comes into play (note: i can click the share button to send someone an email link to the tour as well).  let's say i want a video of this location tour for youtube, soapbox or whatever...simple, use the new record feature to create a windows media video file of the 3d tour.  when you hit record, it starts the tour over.  now the recording takes considerably longer than the normal playback, but that is because it is recording the various frames and encoding at the same time to create the resulting file.

when completed, you'll see that you have a completed file.  you can now post this wherever you'd like.  for example, here's my tour using (note: i've realized you just have to let your machine record...some of mine seemed to have got screwed up by me doing other activities -- and the titles are automatically added based on the waypoint titles):

pretty cool new feature i think provided by virtual earth and the live platform.  go forth and create.

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some news on the windows live platform front...now you can link your passport live id accounts!  i like a lot of the windows live services, but one that i've struggled with is live id.  not the concept, but rather the implementation.  it is getting incrementally better day by day and this one change in particular made me happy.

when passport first came out, most got one.  when messenger came out, you used your passport.  then you could create a passport/live id with your own email account (didn't have to be hotmail.com), then there were some changes and you might have had to migrate yours...etc.  you can see where i'm going here -- i have roughly 4 live id accounts.

then you have your corporation, like mine :-) -- sometimes they require registrations from a live id ending in @mycorpdomain.com -- that frustrates me, but oh well.  i basically have two primary live id accounts i use and when i login/out of sites because i may have created sites under one account, etc. -- i would have to lose major context of what i was doing...not anymore!

here's what you do to link your various live id accounts...

1) go to http://account.live.com and login with your preferred live id

after you login you'll see the summary page and on it you should see the "Linked Windows Live IDs" section:

2) click on the 'Manage Linked IDs' and you should see:

3) click on the 'Link an existing Windows Live ID' and you'll be asked to confirm your logged in live id password, and then you'll be able to add another Windows Live ID account:

4) once completed you'll see that your accounts are now linked:

great, so now what? well when you go to a live id-enabled site you'll be able to switch identities immediately on that site without having to logout/login to a different windows live id...you'll be instantly changed on the same site...that is awesome.

so go link your most used windows live ids!  thanks windows live team!

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in my previous post about a road-trip television show i've been watching, i mentioned that i have been noddling on an idea that i've wanted to do for a while.  i've wanted to get out and meet as many developers as i can and it just seems that the same user group meetings aren't attracting new blood...why is that?  so i thought how can my peers get out there and really reach some people in a different way...and more importantly in different places.  i want to see first-hand the great things people are developing with microsoft.

so my thought is road-trip.  sure, sure, you may say that the adobe guys just did that and i stole my idea from their airbus tour.  not true.  i stole it from the .NET Rocks! roadtrip (their link is gone, but you can do some searching).  i thought it was great that people hopped on an RV and headed across the country talking to developers.  so i thought, why shouldn't microsoft developers do that?  we need to be one with the land and people as well!

now since our teams are more geographically based, i'm not planning on spanning the country/world (unless of course, scott invites me and someone pays my way to get to the gold coast).  so for me, i'm talking the western states in the united states (rocky mountains and anything west).  my thought is we get the message out about next generation web platforms...i'm talking , i'm talking live platform services, etc.  get out there, go to places where we haven't been, stop where people ask us to stop...get out there man.

i could rig up my golf cart and repaint it:

(before)

(after)

but then i realized it might be a little drafty across the desert.  i've named it the 'silvertour' in my head and had visions of old-school airstreams:

yeah, baby, that's what i'm talking about.  so what do you think?  who cares if it has been done before.  did people go to flagstaff, arizona to talk to developers there?  heck the adobe guys passed right by phoenix, arizona!  i think it needs to be done...who's with me? (i'm now envisioning the speech from animal house).

but seriously, i've been talking to some folks at microsoft, working on details, but help me out...good idea or completely lame?  if not completely lame, then post where you would want us to stop...i'll keep you all posted here!

viva le' silvertour! (or perhaps it should be 'coding on asphalt' -- anyone want to submit some logo designs are welcome)