Announcing the Messenger for Mac 8 beta release

Announcing the Messenger for Mac 8 beta release:

After a long effort, I am pleased to announce the beta release of Messenger for Mac 8 which supports audio and video calls.

Have you have ever wanted to do an audio call or a video call from your Mac with a contact on the Windows Live network? Starting today you can! Using your Live ID, Messenger for Mac users can now make AV calls to each other. Messenger for Mac 8 is also the first and only Mac-desktop client that can do calls with Windows Live Messenger 2009.

Why did it take so long? 
We have been working hard on this feature for a long time so the answer is not a lack of effort. The honest answer is that AV calls are a lot harder to implement than one would think and after we got things working last year, we had to postpone the release because of significant protocol changes we needed to support in order to stay compatible with the latest version of our Windows Live desktop client. 

Why is this a beta release?
This is a beta release because we are still putting the finishing touches on the full application and some things are not finished yet. However, we are very aware of how patiently you have been waiting for AV support so we decided it was better to get it into your hands now as a beta release than to make you wait even longer.

The official release of Messenger 8 will happen with the next version of Office for Mac – Office for Mac 2011. When Office 2011 is released later this year, beta users will be updated to the finished version.

Are you still here reading? Head to our downloads page and start making AV calls! We hope you are as excited about this new feature as we are.

Sneak Peek At Photoshop’s Mind-Boggling Content Aware Fill

Sneak Peek At Photoshop’s Mind-Boggling Content Aware Fill:

Content Aware Fill

Adobe is working on a new feature for Photoshop called “Content Aware Fill”, and posted a mind-boggling demonstration of it on YouTube. The description states:

One of the biggest requests we get of Photoshop is to make adding, removing, moving or repairing items faster and more seamless. From retouching to completely reimagining an image, heres an early glimpse of what could happen in the future when you press the delete key.

Basically it allows you to alter or create reality in photographs as easily as selecting an area and running the feature. Gone will be the days when photojournalists are caught with embarrassing patterns created by improperly using the stamp tool. The demonstration is so amazing that many commenters are saying it’s fake, going as far as to say it looks… “photoshopped”?

What do you think of this feature and the sneak peek? Is it too good to be true, or will it change the way we think about photography forever?​

Feedback around protecting SharePoint

Feedback around protecting SharePoint:

Our friends on the Forefront Server Protection team are conducting research to understand what applications you would like to protect, and how you would like them protected. One of the applications they are soliciting feedback on is SharePoint. The survey shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes, and your feedback directly impacts product decisions. 

Please head over to to take the survey. We appreciate your valuable input.

Why do we still have multiple usernames and passwords?

OK, I know it, you know it, this post is going to be a rant.  But within the rant there is a serious question and request.

Why the hell do we STILL have so many usernames and passwords?

Why does EVERY website need to maintain their own security?  Especially when applying and managing that security is not their primary skill or concern, and worst, some just plain don’t care about it.

I have dozens and dozens of usernames and passwords.  Some I reuse for sites I don’t deem to be that unsafe and some I keep unique for that particular service.  I have worked some routines for managing this, such as using “Keychain Access” on my Mac and storing usernames and passwords in the browser.  For more secure usernames and passwords, I write them down in a cryptic manner that only I would understand or just try to remember them all.  The problems with trying to remember the important ones is that my memory is truly awful, and when it comes to sites I only access infrequently, I have no chance.

So, my question is… why do I STILL need multiple usernames and passwords?  I am me whatever website I go to.  I am me when I go to Amazon, I am the same me at my bank and eBay.  I am me, the same me and the only me.

An alternative for the 21st Century?

Surely, rather than me creating many user accounts, usernames, passwords, profiles all that stuff that stays the same should just be created once?  Why can’t I have a simple profile service that I go to and put in all the information that I want to share and then specify what services I want to expose the different pieces of information to? 

If I want to let eBay, Amazon and PayPal access my credit card details, then I can set it there.  If I have to update my Credit Card, then I only have to do it once and not just wait for a payment to fail 50 times before I manage to update it on every site that uses my card.  I would also be able to see exactly which services have been requesting access to that information, and the services that I have not (yet) authorised or shouldn’t be accessing it.

A business perspective

Taking this to a level above consumer access, I work as a consultant for many different clients, often some at the same time, so I also have logons for each of them, again, to protect my clients, I have to keep them different, and most of them make me change the password every 30 days!  Why can’t a company just get rid of their usual Active Directory (sorry Microsoft) or other authorisation server and just say, yes, let Mark Stokes have access to this service or that.  Easy.  Takes this requirement away from businesses who may or may not be very good at it, and save them all a bunch of cash on maintaining the services and on paracetamol for the headaches!

The same with profiles

The same goes with Profiles, as I have just mentioned.  I have to maintain a profile on Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Google, MSN, Twitter and a hundred other sites I am a member of.  In virtually all of these cases my interests are the same, my contact details are the same, my friends are the same.  I only want to put that stuff in once and then state where I want that information to be displayed.  I moved house back in November and made a list of all the places that I needed to update my address, and I can tell you, 4 months on I am STILL updating my address in some places.  And in many places my address is where I lived 4 houses ago!!!  It’s crazy.  It can’t be good for the Royal Mail either, all that post that goes to the wrong place and has to be binned (environmental) or re-delivered to a forwarding address.

A Question of Trust

So, we come on to the nitty gritty of it. 

If such a service WAS to exist, who would own/manage it? 
Could we have a single government control the worlds user directories?  Could it be split between every government to manage their own citizens?

Should a global organisation operate this service? In the same way ICANN controls internet names and numbers?

Who could be trusted to run such a service?
The power this organisation would have would be incredible. And what if it wasn’t securely implemented and there was a breach?  Once a users single point of access has been breached, a hacker would have access to ALL that persons services.

Where to next?
There are a couple of initiatives that are trying to gather pace, such as OpenID.

I just hope, and prey that some internet bods much more intelligent than me are on the case and not too far off bringing a service to the world.  It would free up SO much of my time, and companies time and money.  The needs it… I need it.

Let me know your thoughts and comments on this.