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Yesterday, the Silverlight Live Streaming team (SLS) posted an update on their blog regarding the future of the Silverlight Streaming by Windows Live service.

SLS was a beta service to users to have a place to host and deliver their Silverlight-based applications or media to be delivered by Silverlight players.  It was launched at the time of Silverlight 2 as a free beta service to users under the Windows Live brand and offered 10GB of free storage to beta users.

In summary, the SLS service is being discontinued.  Effective immediately no new account sign-ups are going to be permitted for the service.  Existing accounts are not going to be deleted, nor is the content at this time.  A date for final termination of the service has not yet been set and the team has stated they will provide ample time to users to get their content out of the service.

Is there a replacement, if so, what is it?

A new Windows Azure based service for hosting and delivery of similar content is planned to be launched by the end of 2009 and would be a service that SLS users might consider transferring to, however is not a direct replacement of SLS.  Windows Azure is a broader initiative for the company and this is just one service that will be offered as a part of the suite of Azure cloud services.  Windows Azure is a pay service and will have costs associated with use.

How can I get my content?

The SLS team blog post has information about how you can retrieve your content from the service.  In a nutshell, we’ve enabled the WebDAV folder support for users of the service.  This gives you the ability to map a drive to your account and move files in your file explorer utility.  The key pieces of information you will need to accomplish this is your SLS Account ID and Key.  These are different then your Live ID account you use to log into the service.  To retrieve these, log into your account at the SLS site and click on Manage Account in the SLS options on the left after logging in, like this:

SLS Account ID information

Make note of these two things.  The blog post has instructions on how you can use this information to map a network drive or network location to a WebDAV URL or share location to access your content.  I’m guessing the servers might be under some heavy load using this method so please be patient.  Remember that any authentication prompt is not looking for your Windows Live ID, but rather the SLS Account information noted above.

Summary and some FAQ

Yes, this is a bummer the service is going away as-is.  While the service was meant to stream any stand-alone Silverlight application, I know a lot primarily used it to host video content for blogs, etc. because of the web player it automatically generated. 

Q: Will the new Azure service enable video streaming and Smooth Streaming?
A: I think SLS had one of the most misleading names we’ve had on a product.  The video content on SLS was never really streaming in the technical sense.  It was always just a progressive download experience.  The Azure service details have not been completed for public detail just yet and will be announced when available as to what they will provide, costs and other details.

Q: What about the advertising platform?
A: Users who opted in and were approved for the advertising pilot with AdCenter will still have their AdCenter account information and content.

Q: When will you delete my content?
A: The final dates of discontinuance haven’t been determined and the team will give notice to all users (via the registered Windows Live ID account information/email and the blog) of timelines when they are available.  I would recommend to start downloading/saving your content now if you want it for later…this will save any mad rush to get content.

Hope this helps clarify anything but please also read the full announcement from the SLS team themselves.

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Well, I wish I was going to this event: ReMIX UK!  For one, it would be starting the day of my birthday and would be a great birthday treat!  Secondly, I would be able to meet up with my fellow escamoles chaps and maybe take in some local cuisine instead.

If you are in the UK, or for some reason really wanted to see the current value of the US dollar, make sure you head to ReMIX UK!  The lineup is pretty incredible when you look at it…here’s some Microsoft favorites:

I also saw on the agenda for the 2 day event that Tim Sneath and Jesse Liberty were listed, so it should be even richer (pun intented) content.  In addition it looks like some great stuff on the designer and creative strategy side of the business as well.  I’m sure there will be enough Silverlight stuff there to keep you going as well as WPF, ASP.NET and others!

By the way, I listed Dr. Neil above as one of my Microsoft favorites.  He’s actually one of our Regional Directors.  If you have never met Dr. Neil…do so.  He’s a great guy, very intelligent and fun to be around.  Ask him about how he manages developer teams and the ‘check-in’ metaphor for people, not just code.  Seriously, he would be a not miss either.

I wish I could travel across the pond for this one, but I’ll be hopefully approximately 25 meters under water in some area of Mexico celebrating with friends.  Have fun though!

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Well, I have about 3 hours until I leave this little city called Mexico City.  Sarcasm of course, did you know there are roughly 25 million people in Mexico City.  I didn’t.  It is amazing.  Traffic, however, is something to be desired.  I’m told that a 3 mile trip at times could take 1hr, 30 minutes.  Maybe I should stop complaining about my commute when I do it?  No, it still sucks.

Anyway, on to business.  Yesterday I attended and spoke at the MIX Essentials Mexico conference.  These events are happening worldwide and if there is one coming up in your area, you should definitely check it out.  I was fortunate enough to kick off the day with the keynote session talking about building RIAs in Silverlight 2 and demonstrating some of the new capabilities that have been talked about for beta 2.  My second session was on accessing data within Silverlight 2 using web services, RSS/Atom, REST, etc.  I had a great time and hope that the attendees for the day enjoyed the discussions as well.  For myself it was quite interesting as myself and 3 others were the only ones who presented in English.  We had translators (I forgot to tell them thank you as they did a great job) who were doing their best to translate our American and English (UK) slang and language flaws.  Part of me felt a bit disconnected from the audience and it really motivated me to learn Spanish.  I live in Arizona so I’m near the border and we holiday there quite a bit…there is no excuse for me not to start understanding a bit more than “Donde esta el bano?”

I made the mistake of trying to look like I knew what I was doing when in the ride from the airport to the hotel (8 miles, 1hr).  I didn’t know how long it would be and asked the driver “Cuanto tiempo?” which roughly translates to “How long?” and he answered to me about 30 minutes (in Spanish of course, numbers I understand).  I must have had a really good accent, because later he received a phone call, paused, turned around and started saying things I had no idea what he was saying :-) -- we chuckled.

After the keynote, Una Walsh of Conchango did a wonderful presentation talking about *what* user experience is and how it is all around us, not just in technology.  She really knows here stuff and is one of the individuals directing the user experience group at her organization.  Her presentation showed some interesting things that Virgin American has been doing to advertise differently as well as create a unique flight experience that is driving loyalty and enthusiasm.  That’s right, loyalty and enthusiasm in an airline.  They are doing some really unique things to differentiate themselves and at the same time building excitement in a brand in their industry almost to the same level of ‘fanboy’ status.

Rich and FelixNext up was two others from Conchango, Rich Griffin and Felix Corke.  Rich is a developer and Felix a designer.  Together they presented ‘Beauty and the Geek’ discussing the workflow between a developer and a designer.  Both of these guys are really talented and have been working with XAML for a while.  We had some great discussions on what needs to be done to help bridge the gaps further.  I think they were also excited to see some of the things I showed them that is coming.  Rich also talked more in-depth later about XAML.

Una and AlexFresh off a 10 hour plane ride from Argentina, Alex Souza talked about creating web experiences with Expression Studio 2.  This was the first Spanish speaking session.  I sat in for most of this one and Alex really engaged the crowd and although I have no idea what he was saying, I saw a lot of nodding heads.  Alex really knows his stuff and was really confident about the platform.  He demonstrated building an experience using the various tools available to web designers and developers.

Also fresh from Argentina, Gabriel Corvera Ortiz from the Windows Live team, talked about the Windows Live platform.  He said this was the second time he’s been able to do this, but it didn’t show.  This guy is very confident and was able to answer some of the hard questions posed by the attendees.  He’s really smart and I was glad to have met him this weekend.

Arturo Vazquez wrapped up the final session talking about becoming a partner with Microsoft.  I stepped into this one late and although it was in Spanish I could tell there were a lot of questions around what organizations should be doing to get the various levels of partnerships.

It was a really great day and I received a lot of good questions and met some great people.  I had a chance to talk with Alfredo Ceballos and Christian Strevel which were both good conversations about doing fun and interesting things and hopefully soon with Silverlight 2!

For my sessions if you are interested in more, I recommend checking out the Learn section of the Silverlight community site.  Most of what I covered is also available in videos and downloadable code for you to work with.  We’ll be updating this site with examples and content for beta 2 once released so be sure to subscribe to my blog and keep your eyes on the Silverlight site for the best resources!

The event was over and we could all relax a bit.  There were a lot of pictures taken so if you have any be sure to tag them with mixessentialsmx or something like that so we can all see or leave a comment here to the URLs.  You can view my photos on Flickr.


Our gracious hosts for the event (in addition to the agency who helped put everything together…their staff was AWESOME—thank you Rossana and others!) were Eduardo Nava Malagon and Mauricio Angulo.  These guys were the most gracious hosts we could have had.  After the event they took us to Paxia, which was incredible.  The service and food was amazing.  I had a filet with chorizo that was oh so good.  The highlight of the night however was learning all about tequila.  While I don’t drink…the table sure did ;-).  There were many La Loteria being ordered (which essentially is a sampler of 4 fine tequilas).  Felix had to ask about worms, to then the mezcal started coming out.  Mauricio was very much enjoying himself and was so kind to us the entire night.  That was until he decided to let us try some ‘local’ cuisine.  After an exchange with the restaurant host, a plate of guacamole and something else came out (that’s a picture of it here).  Escamoles.  Click the link, then come back.  That’s right…we ate those.  I’ve told myself I’ll try anything once, and I did.  There will probably be no more esacmoles in my future.  You can see a brief video of Felix and Una prepping their tortillas here.

About 15 or 20 la loterias later, we ended dinner and great conversation about culture, language and other things.  I really enjoyed myself in Mexico City (the hotel I was at as well was phenominal, extremely comfortable and would every hotel should be) and am grateful to have been invited.  I hope the attendees to MIX Essentials had fun, learned a little and are excited to create the next great experiences on the web.

Muchas gracias a mis nuevos amigos en la oficina de Microsoft en Mexico City.

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Hot off the press, a new drop of Windows Live Writer was just released.  Get it here.  This is one of my favorite tools from Microsoft and the update brings a few new changes.

First, I’m happy to report that Flickr4Writer and S3Browser still work fine and require no adjustments.  The other thing announced today from the Writer team is an updated SDK.  This new SDK includes a new type of plugin which enable plug-in activity for pre- and post-publish events.  Some of you following me on Twitter may have noticed something every so often that said “blogging: blah blah” and a link to the post.  This is done automatically for me from Writer using a plug-in.  It actually is one of the ones included in the updated SDK (along with another example for adding a Digg badget to your post).

Recently there’s been some discussion of people re-aggregating/posting blog content to other sites.  Even though I had a Creative Commons license on my blog’s footer, etc, it wasn’t in my content so when someone re-posted my stuff automatically, it wasn’t visible.  Using the new Writer SDK, I created a quick little plug-in that would add a notation about the Creative Commons license I was using to every post.  Again, automatically now and I don’t have to write anything.  I’m making this one available for free/test and you can get it here.  These plug-ins are accessed in the same way through the Tools…Options menu in Writer.  Here’s the configuration for mine:

If you click the Preview tab (a new feature in Writer preview – tabs instead of menu options to switch between Edit, Preview, Source), it will show you what it will look like as well.  These types of plugins can also be enabled per weblog so if you have more than one weblog defined for Writer, you can choose which one you want these post- and pre-publish event plug-ins to be turned on for. 

For some existing plugins out there, this is a more natural fit.  When I heard about this new model, I joined up with Alexander Groß who wrote the Now Playing plug-in which is awesome and flexible (he’s also involved in a great Graffiti template for user groups).  But it seemed a more natural fit to use this model of automatically appending the information instead of having the user remember to click the button to insert the information.  I’ve submitted my changes to Alexander and hope they make it into his next build of Now Playing.  It looks the same in config and here it is in preview mode in Writer:

I love the new Writer with the subtle changes it has made and the additional plug-in model.  Get your update today!

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The Code Trip LogoWow, it's been a few months now since I thought about doing a road trip talking about the next wave of technologies.  I originally thought it would be the "Silvertour" but we've now actually made it happen.  I can tell you that the behind the scenes of this has been a long process.  It seems so simple and I can hear the people now saying 'why was it so hard, c'mon you are Microsoft and have zillions of dollars.'  Sure, maybe that is true about a big company, but that's also the point.  We are a company of companies and thus we still have budgets.  For me, that's been the biggest challenge wrangling in budgets, efforts, desires, balancing other goals, etc.  It's been a long process.

But it's on baby.  The Code Trip is coming...like in a few days literally.  We thought small (budgets) and wanted to go the RV route.  Well, for various reasons (stop by an event and we can chat), we got a friggin tour bus.  And in fact it's the tour bus coming off the Styx tour.  How crazy is that?  Here's a preview of what we'll be cruising around the western U.S. in:

The Code Trip Bus

So we're off...leaving from MIX on Thursday, March 6 (stop by the blogzone to help send us off).  Our schedule is up on the site and will be continuously updated.  The site will be evolving after MIX announcements :-).  We're excited to head out.  We know we've forgotten things probably.  Heck, it will be a great time and we look forward to seeing you all on the road.  Visit the site, subscribe to the main feed, follow us for real-time updates on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.  We'll be having contest announcements TODAY as well so you'll want to make sure you follow all those links as we'll announce some contest in certain areas.

From MIX we'll be hitting these cities first:

Please join us in person if you can, but follow us on line to view our daily log podcasts and code samples we'll be putting up.  See you on the road!