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Goodbye Windows Live Spaces, Hello WordPress

Windows Live and WordPress logo

After over five years and almost 500 posts, I’m finally moving Tubblog from the Microsoft Windows Live Spaces platform, to the more mature WordPress service.

I wrote an Open Letter to the Windows Live Spaces team back in May of this year, bemoaning the fact that the Windows Live Spaces blogging platform had become plagued by spam comments, instability and not only a lack of new features, but the removal of existing features.

I didn’t receive a response from anybody in the Windows Live team, but that may have been because they were keeping quiet about the fact they were planning to withdraw the Windows Live Spaces service altogether. Sure enough, at the end of September an announcement was made that Microsoft and WordPress were teaming up to offer an upgrade, migrating all Live Spaces customers across to WordPress.

Giving up on Live Spaces

Truthfully, I’d already given up on the Live Spaces platform by that time, and it was only the huge task of migrating 5 years worth of my blog posts, along with hundreds of comments and links that had me dithering on moving to a new blogging platform anyway.

Screenshot of Windows Live Spaces upgrade messageSo it was with glee that I learned that as part of the WordPress deal, the Windows Live team had created a easy-to-use migration tool, which made the migration process from Live Spaces to WordPress a painless affair.

Migrating to WordPress

As well as migrating all my blog posts across to WordPress, all my existing comments and links are also migrated. What’s more, any visitors to the old Live Spaces URL’s are instantly re-directed to the new WordPress URL. The only thing that isn’t migrated automatically are my lists (I can manually re-create these if I choose), and any pictures not included in blog posts. I can live with that.

I’m happy to say that the process worked without fault. Just about everything that was available at my Live Spaces hosting, is now available at WordPress. I’ve also had my eyes open to the world of WordPress – by far a superior platform, with plenty of opportunities to do cool new things. I’m still chuffed at the most basic of features on WordPress that we never had on Live Spaces – a search box in the top right hand corner, for instance. Wow!

Conclusion

I’d appreciate any feedback on the new blog-setup – how does it look and feel. Any pointers from WordPress veterans, or any features you’d recommend I check out? Drop me a line or leave a comment below.

So farewell Windows Live Spaces – I’ll remember you fondly, even though we had our up’s and down’s. You looked after me for over 5 years, and I’m grateful for your assistance in finding me a new home!


The Best Windows Mobile Apps – Part II

In my last blog post, I talked about some of the 3rd Party Windows Mobile Applications that could enable you to run your business from the pub to be more productive.

As promised, in this post I’ll talk about some of the applications I use to work remotely and to get myself from A to B.

Top of that list of applications is… CoPilot Live. When I first moved from a PDA to a Windows Mobile Phone, I was dismayed to find that my favourite Satellite Navigation software, TomTom, did not work on my T-Mobile MDA Vario II. I had tried other Sat-Nav software in the past and never found anything to match TomTom in terms of ease of use and features.

Then I tried CoPilot Live and changed my allegiances instantly! With Postcode Searching, a Walk/Cycle/Drive navigation feature (handy for when you are strolling/riding around a City Centre), good POI’s (Points of Interest) and all the other features you’ve come to expect from a decent Sat-Nav system, CoPilot gets a big thumbs up. In my mind though, the best feature is it’s excellent “divert” facility. Let me give you a scenario. You’re driving down the M6 Motorway and notice a traffic jam – do you take the exit to try and avoid the traffic, or take your chances and sit it out? When I used TomTom and hit the “Divert” button, it took me off the Motorway via the next exit, then down a country road, then down another country road and… I never saw the Motorway again! With CoPilot, you hit the “Divert” button and it smartly realises you want to miss out the next few minutes of your journey (i.e. the traffic jam) but get back onto the quickest route home again a.s.a.p. So CoPilot would take you via the exit off the Motorway, guide you through some country lanes, then put you back on the Motorway after the Traffic Jam for the quickest route home. Personally, this feature has saved me many a frustrating crawl through Traffic – so kudos CoPilot!

Many modern Windows Mobile devices (such as the T-Mobile MDA Vario III, which Andy Parkes owns) now come with GPS built-in, so no need for an external GPS receiver at all.

But as well as getting from A to B easily, the modern geek needs to be able to stay connected with both his clients and important web-sites (such as Facebook) – and to do this he or she will need a good web-browser on their Mobile device. Frankly, the version of Internet Explorer built in to Windows Mobile is basic. By basic I mean, it’s rubbish… No Tabbed-Browsing, Poor Toolbar and all the features you’ll find on your Desktop browser are missing. This is where Pocket IE Plus from ReenSoft comes in. PIEPlus isn’t a replacement for IE on Windows Mobile, it’s more of an enhancement to gives you access to many of the features, such as Tabbed Browsing, that you’ve come to expect from a modern web-browser. It also optimises content for your Mobile screen and feels much snappier in use. PIEPlus has a free 14-day trial so you can try before you buy.

Although I’ve not used it myself yet, I understand the latest version of Opera Mobile might be a very strong contender for best Mobile Browser too – so it’s worth checking that out.

As for web-sites you may want to use when out of the office – the excellent remote control software LogMeIn works under Windows Mobile and has allowed me to remotely troubleshoot a clients server many a time. You wouldn’t want to spend all day administering machines with it by any means, but it can be a life saver in a pinch. When enabled on your Exchange Server, Outlook Mobile Access (https://yourserver/oma) is also very useful if push-email isn’t available to you. Finally, BBC News, Better Management and Facebook all have Mobile enabled versions of their sites that are essential for pretending to look busy with in quiet moments…

Quick tip – if you’re finding your web-browsing on your Mobile device a little sluggish to get started when you open your browser, it may well be your ISP’s poor overworked DNS servers at fault. Try changing your Windows Mobile Device (Start > Settings > Connections) to use the excellent OpenDNS servers and instantly see the difference it makes!

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that many of the Microsoft Windows Live! services, such as Hotmail, Live Messenger and Live Spaces are available to access directly from your Mobile Device. Setting these services up is easy – simply get yourself over to http://www.gowindowslive.com/Mobile/Landing/Home/Default.aspx? and click the “Try it now” link in the top right hand corner to ask for the Live settings to be sent to your Mobile Device via SMS text message. Click the resulting link that arrives on your Windows Mobile Device and you’re on your way!

Of course, when you’re out of the office you don’t have access to that highly secure filing system you use to store all the usernames, passwords and URL’s you need to gain access to the various systems you administer. Time to chuck out those badly organised Post-It notes and scraps of paper, my friend, and move to KeePass!

KeePass (Keep Passwords Safe) allows you to store all those important details securely on your Desktop PC, but the beauty of this bit of software is that a Windows Mobile version of KeePass is also available. Make sure your KeePass Secure Password storage file is part of your Activesync Synchronised Files so that it is transferred to your Windows Mobile device regularly – install KeePass on your Windows Mobile device – and suddenly you have an upto date copy of all your important information to hand wherever you are!

In my next blog post, I’ll take a final look at my favourite Windows Mobile apps and discuss the software I use to help me find Wireless Hotspots, chat for free, take photographs with my Windows Mobile Device, blog anywhere, and most important of all – have fun! :-)

Looking at Windows Live SkyDrive

Had an opportunity to play with the beta of Windows Live SkyDrive today.

The service recently became available in the UK, in addition to the US and India, and allows you to store files and folders on-line ala XDrive and other similar services. You could upload those important documents, some music, photographs – anything – and then access them securely wherever you can gain access to a web-browser.

If you’ve already got a Windows Live ID, then you’ve got a SkyDrive setup already for free. Just go to skydrive.live.com and login!

You’re given a generous 10GB allowance and the web interface is easy to use to upload and download files with. It seems to work just as well under Firefox as it does under Internet Explorer too – which is a pleasant surprise!

As well as allowing you to securely access your files, you can make individual files or (and this is cool) entire folders available for sharing with either other specific Windows Live contacts, or the unwashed masses.

So whilst I’m not crazy about the name of the service (Windows Live Folders was just fine for me…) it is a thumbs up to the features!

This could prove a good alternative to YouSendIt when you want to give ongoing access to certain files for an indefinite period to either a closed group of people, of the genera public. Just upload the files, send those folks the URL – and you’re away. No time limits before the files are removed.

How to change your Windows Live ID

How do you change your Windows Live ID?

  1. Go to http://account.live.com/ - login with your existing Live ID.
  2. Click Settings > under “Your Information” – click “change” next to your ID
  3. Enter your new ID details by following the on-screen instructions
  4. Wait for the confirmation e-mail to come through to your new ID address > respond and voila!

There’s a ton of other options for changing your details at http://account.live.com/ too!

I’ve never come across the site before, and without Tim over at Tigra Networks humouring me and holding my hand through the process like the newbie I was, I doubt I ever would have!

I have to question how non-techy end users might find this site if I can’t!

Looking at Google Maps for Mobiles

I’ve been using my new Windows Mobile 5 device (a T-Mobile MDAGoogle Maps for Mobiles Screenshot Vario II) for a few months now – and let’s just say I’m never going back to “normal” mobile ‘phones again!

Much more to come on the Vario and T-Mobiles 3G service soon, but I thought I’d bring two competing applications to your attention.

Google Maps for Mobiles (shown on the right) and Microsoft’s Live Search for Mobiles (browse to both URL’s directly from your mobile device for instant download and install) both perform similar functions. Both allow you to view local maps and scroll around nearby locations, and both allow you to find local services and directions.

In use, Google Maps is superb – it’s very fast indeed, and it’s search facility is excellent. Live Search has a way to go yet – it feels slow, and the search facility isn’t good – but I still carry both applications as they are less than 500k each.

I’ve used them both more than once recently when I’ve been in town centres without my Sat-Nav to hand – beats carrying an A to Z with you! Live Search also helped the GG and I find an Italian restaurant recently, so thumbs up for that (and the meal was excellent too!)

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