Want to help an organization? Try playing games on Live Search Club

I stopped playing Live Search Club months ago. I got bored with it, and the prizes weren’t that compelling. There was this one game I wanted, but it seemed to take forever to get there. So I gave up. Can you blame me?

                                                                      

I just checked out the site again to see if anything changed, and guess what? It did. Now they added a few games, but most importantly, you can support an organization of your choice. It’s really cool.

Go to the Search and Give page. Go to the My Charity Setting on one of the links. From there, you can find names of charities by entering in the name of the charity, the city you live in (US only), or the zip code. There’s a TON to choose from.

Then you go on over to step #4 and put the percentage of tickets that you want to give out of your total game winnings. It has to be between 0-100 of course.

Accept the Terms and Conditions. Save Settings.

                                                                  

There. Now any game you play, your donations will come through. Here are the new games I noticed:

EnLIVEnment : A play on words between Live (Windows Live) and the Enlightment (democratic thinking period). There’s a painting and you drag your cursor (which plays as a magnifying class) and find some ‘hidden’ things in the picture. If you find something, a little box says you found something and you click your mouse. That launches a Live search, and that gives you a point. You throw your cursor and click until you found all 40. Easy-peasy. This is an easy way of getting 40 fast tickets.

Search Queries : I thought this was rather entertaining. Some professor was creating the ultimate Search queries, but some blackout happened and they all escaped. So you, as the Internet ‘Explorer’ (pun!), has to find out where all the queries are using riddles and Live Search. At first it was interesting, but the riddles were obtuse for me, and the search really didn’t help much at all. So maybe if you’re good at riddles, this is a game for you. I didn’t finish it.

Red Carpet Reveal : The goal of this game is to solve 5 riddles involving pop culture, and the answers to the riddles are all related to one person and you have to guess who it is. A good game for people in tuned with pop culture. You get 10 pts.

There are also 3 other games I didn’t try:

Spelling Bee : "Sweet sticky fun is only a mouse click away! In Spelling Bee, your goal is to spell as many words as possible using the letters tucked into the honeycomb. Spell enough words in a round and you’ll move on to the next beehive."

Star Shuffle : "Get to the top of the charts with this word scramble challenge! Each puzzle features an anagram of a famous name – put all the letters in order to discover the hidden talents."

Word Slugger : "In Word Slugger, your goal is to spell as many words as possible. Each baseball on the field is marked with a letter. Spell a word by typing the letters or click the baseballs in the correct order. Bat in enough words and move on to the next round."

So if you really want to help out an organization, this is a good way of doing so. At the same time, you can also get prizes with the money you saved for yourself and find out new interesting things. Give it a try : http://club.live.com/

Shared Community Living – possible future housing development in the future

As Americans, many of us live in the suburbs of America. You know what a suburb is, the area between the country and the city?

You’ll usually find families or middle-aged couples living in these homes. Where usually the parents work, the kids go to school, driving a car is the main transportation, maintaining green lawns, and other pieces of suburbia life.

But as humans evolve and change overtime, so does there living habits. Many urban futurists predict a movement, at least a slow movement, towards more condensed and robust city centers. No more of the ‘wasteful’ suburbian life we once had, but a new kind of living. A living that would be more beneficial, than as it is now.

What we’re talking about here is Shared Community Living. This kind of living is where a big group of multiple people all live in the same dwelling, and share many of the necessities, features, tools, amenities, and other things offered at the dwelling. This isn’t something new. Dormitories are very similar to this lifestyle. Sometime large families (prevalently Hispanic ones in the US) also live in the same dwelling and coexist together. This is also done in many countries around the world already.

Urban futurists are looking at SCL in a different way. In a more modern way than what we take it as now. Futurists are dreaming the concept of SCL in a different way.

So here’s the basic concept in mind : Imagine a nice 3-story complex that’s set around pretty close to central area of the city. The complex is as very eco-friendly as the come as well as aesthetically pleasing. Around 40-60 inhabitants live here. All of them have separate nicely spacious bedrooms. The large kitchen zone, bathroom zone, and other zones are shared.

Notice I said zone, instead of room. Because with up to 40-60 inhabitants, I doubt a room would suffice. So the kitchen has practically all the perks (plus extras!) of your average new suburbian kitchen. But instead of you having to pay for it all, you get to share the cost of the whole thing among other inhabitants. So you’re paying a relatively small fraction for a nice kitchen, but you’ll have to share it. But you can share 4 mega-ultra refrigerators, induction cooktops, and other stuff that would cost a lot to pay your own.

Same with the bathroom zone. It’s not a danky area of a shared complex. Touchless controls, sensors, clean smell emitters, and all the latest modern conveniences in the bathroom are shared in use as well as the cost. Very cost effective, but you still get nice features in your bathroom zone! I think they’ll be separated between men and women though.

Then there’s the entertainment zone. A pool table of two, several large flatscreens TV’s, foosball table, video console, gameboard cabinet, etc. And again, you’re sharing the cost with other people. So you get more bang for your buck.

Then there’s your own area of the house : the bedroom. Each room should have enough space for a bed, a desk and a dresser. Standard features include built-in bookcase, nice big window, semi walk-in closet, ceiling fan, several outlets, etc.

There are many benefits to SCL:

  • Cost effective
  • Get access to many nice features
  • Very social setting to live in
  • Friends can live very close by
  • Nice dwelling

Thought there are a few cons:

  • Not much privacy
  • Inhabitants might hog some areas
  • Setting is fit more for singles, not kids
  • Limited space for belongings

The cons are pretty simple to solve though. If you’re the kind of person that likes to keep to himself, just don’t live there. Or at least you have your own bedroom to keep locked in under.

Some people might hog the area. Tell them nicely to not take up so much. Set clear space of what’s yours, like YOUR soda in the fridge with a permanent marker. Tell people to respect the amenities that cost relatively low in the first place.

Even if you do get to know people well, it might be scary to leave your kid(s) alone where anyone can mess with them. And there might be um ‘some’ things you might not want your kid to blunder in with the inhabitants of the house. So get a townhome or a real apartment/condo.

The only real sure spot to keep your things in check is your bedroom. But there should be ample room to really have all the things you need. Things in the future are more digital anyways, so you’re just mainly looking for laptop/desktop space.

So SCL looks like a pretty nice way of living urbanly in the future. What do you think?

Top 10 New Things in the field of Web Search

                                                                                  

So what’s the latest and the greatest in the field of web searching? Well I’ve got a list of the top 10 new things a web search engine should have :

  1. Dynamic Search – Instant search as you type. Type in a few letters, and results come up instantly based on those letters. It’s really nifty. Obvious places you can already see this is when searching in WMP 11, Yahoo! (Search Assist), Vista’s Instant Search, OS X Spotlight, Windows Live Toolbar, etc. Integrating this directly into the search engine would be profound. What Yahoo! and Live Toolbar does is neat, where it shows what "search term" you might be looking for, but I want to see what "results" you’re looking for, not just the words. And if it’s done instantly and just as fast : wonderful.
  2. Website image preview – Have you ever seen an icon like this : ? Or an icon like this : ? Chances are, if you hover your cursor over them, an image preview of a site will show up. Too some that can be really nifty. To give you a nice identifier of the site you’re about to go to, just in case you’re not sure if it’s the site you want, or a site you want to avoid. Very nifty.
  3. Universal Search – Seeing all or many major search fields (Web, Image, Video, News, etc.) all in one setting. This is predominantly seen in Ask.com, where major search fields are seen all at once. This can be useful for those who don’t know of something, and seeing all of it laid out in various fields can be useful. This has been seen before in Google and Windows Live before as well.
  4. Ranked Search – This is more user-done than a regular algorithm. Have you ever searched for something, but couldn’t find that definite thing you’re looking for until you reach several more results down? If users could rank results themselves, this would more appropriately match results to what’s most popular and relevant now, than some algorithm. Think of it like ranking comments on Digg or any other site : bad ones get a thumbs down, good ones get an up arrow. Something like that. This could also be more beneficial in image search than anything.
  5. Filtered Search – Sometimes, you really wish you could narrow down to EXACTLY what you’re looking for. That’s where filtered search comes in. You can EXCLUDE certain keywords that are not at all related to what you want (Windows as in Microsoft, or the ones on walls?). You can find results from a CERTAIN site just by dropping the URL : like this. Look for something posted at a particular TIME. Etc. That can be really useful for a college student or somebody who likes to specify what they’re researching for.
  6. Immersive Search – How about a more interactive search engine? Services like Viewzi are entering into the age of customizing how we view the data. Traditional search results laid out as they are now, are getting kind of old. These days, a simple link won’t do for us. Now we can embed other neat graphics, layouts, among many extras to customize our search experience. Viewzi is a search experience that’s looking to make the data we find more visual-friendly and interactive. Take a look at the video. Soon, we can really customize how we view the data in a better way.
  7. 3D Search – Imagine if a website was like a little 3D space, in a world of other 3D spaces. This is taking the web to the next level. You could make your own little self to walk around this vast world. Think of it as Second Life, but specifically for websites. Stroll around, gander at floating videos, streaming content, and a bunch of other neat things from where you are. Maybe we can see Virtual Earth utilized for this?
  8. Data manipulation – Wouldn’t it be neat to manipulate the data you find? What we do now is just look at it and click at it. New ways of data manipulation could be things like grouping together things you like, adding tags or notes to certain results, ranking them, among other things. There’s something called Tafiti (Silverlight-needed) that does something similar to that. You can search for things, and if you like a result, you can drop it into one of the glass panes next to you. And make a collection/group from that. Or how about literally stretching photos from image results? Playing multiple video results at once? Rearranging web results the way you see fit? The possibilities are many.
  9. Localized Search – Localized search has been gaining traction for quite awhile now. Suppose you were at at Point A, and you were looking for destinations. First it would help to have a GPS feature handy or the address/zip code of the area. Localized search can help you pinpoint to where you want to go if you’re just wanting to try anything new or unfamiliar. Find a store, school, police department and look at their user rating, reviews, pictures, health inspections, and other info. about the area right at your fingertips. This is the kind of information that can be really helpful when you’re on the go. We’re really seeing this take off.
  10. Favicons with results – Not a major thing, but favicons are the little logos you see on many websites. You can usually see the site’s favicon right from the URL entry of the browser. Like I said, it’s not a major thing, but it could be pretty handy if you’re looking through a long list of results from multiple. You might trust this site a lot more if you can see the favicon fast and directly, and pick it. It’s a nice tool for those who are more pertained to go with ‘trusted’ sites they know. We can see this coming in web results, news results, image results, video results, etc.

So those are the top 10 new things to come in web search. I’m really rooting for Microsoft to do a remake of their whole Live Search brand with these little tips to what I want to see. If a search engine could manage most of these next-gen things, they would be definitely #1.

PowerPoint sucks, Keynote is far better

Now I try to be fair when I can, and Keynote (from the iWork suite) is loads better than the current PowerPoint for Windows.

Why is Keynote so loads better than PowerPoint? Well I hate to admit it, but Keynote plays very well with Apple’s sense of style, design, effects, eye candy, and all the good stuff that will attract people. So in essence, a Keynote presentation would probably outdo a PowerPoint presentation in getting the point across better.

Here’s the main things I like about Keynote:

  • Awesome graphics display – Text, pictures, slides themselves have a nice myriad of effects you can put on them. These effects really give a razzle-dazzle to presentations. They make the whole thing feel more alive and 3D-like in a way. You can really show off your text/pictures/slides with pretty much the same thing. Text : Blast, Comet, Sparkle, Drift, Fly In, Bouncy, Compress, Flip, to name a few. Actually most of these effects also work well on object/pictures as well. Real neat.
  • Awesome slide transitions – Not only are there cool 2D transitions, but there’s also 3D transitions. Taking that a step above. 3D effects like Blinds, Confetti (one of my faves!), Cube, Mosaic, Reflection, Swap, etc. Then there’s 2D ones like Blur, Droplet, Flash, Push, Reveal, Scale, etc.
  • Photo background remover – It’s called Instant Alpha in Keynote. What it does, is remove the background of a photo, so you can take the focal part of the picture out. Like suppose there’s a picture of a banana on the grass. You click the tool, and you apply an extended circle over the area (or the majority of the picture) you want wiped out. Then it will just leave the banana part behind. Making the banana look more natural and singular like. Really neat. I think it’s in other photo software as well.
  • More skimmed UI bar – I like how the UI is pretty skim at the top, and there’s more room for the slide – the real canvas.
  • Floating palettes – Whenever you select a specific item (like text, photo, slide itself, etc.), a little box comes up for it, along the outside of the program, or on top of it. The box contains all the options that you can do with what you selected, all in one box. So it’s simpler to find, and it’s also easier to preview within the box.
  • Point A to B animations – Like I said, the customizability is what makes this tool also great. You can really drag focal lines from the center, and move a ghost image of it across to where you really want it. It’s super easy to use. And there’s even more you can do with it like making the graphic get smaller as it goes.
  • Cheaper price – You can get the whole iWork suite (word processor, presentation slide maker, and spreadsheets) for just at $79.

Of course there’s things like there’s no ClipArt, you can’t buy it seperate from the whole iWork suite, stuff like that.

PowerPoint has been a tool for many, but after looking at Keynote, I can spot many flaw and issues that still live with PowerPoint today. Things like:

  • 90s-like style effects – Even with the new PowerPoint 07′, the effects done on text and graphics is so weak. It’s ok, but we’re not really talking about graphical here. Just plain regular 2D-like effects.
  • Only WAV files are supported throughout PowerPoint – It’s definitely NOT easy to insert sound files into PP. Audio you want to play throughout the entire presentation has to be WAV. Why? I don’t know. Maybe PP employees just don’t appreciate MP3, WMA, or AAC enough to include that support.
  • No super drag-n’-drop – Suppose you make a graphic in one slide, but decide that it looks better in another slide. You’re first reaction would be to pick-up the graphic piece, go over to the Slide managing pane, and drop it to the slide you think it belongs. But PP won’t do that. It just won’t let you drag-n’-drop to other slides. It’s so dumb if you ask me.
  • PowerPoint costs MUCH more than Keynote – A copy of PowerPoint retails around $229 (stand-alone), while Keynote (which does not have a stand-alone version) goes for around $79. You can obviously see which is the better deal here.
  • ClipArt content is outdated – Microsoft needs to refreshed their library of media with something new. Most of that stuff is way too 90’s to fit in now. They look seriously outdated. I sometime avoid ClipArt altogether and just copy and paste photos from the web. I want leaner, cleaner, simpler looking icons. None of that artsy stuff. Just give beautiful simple icons to represent real day things, and that would be cool.
  • Default UI takes up some screen space – The way PowerPoint is by default, takes up a lot of screen real estate. Like the Slides/Outline pane on the left, takes up some unnecessary space. You can slide it closer to the left to just get a good enough look of the slide thumbnails. Then there are the right panes that come up sometimes, like "Clip Art" and "Custom Animation". While the new Ribbon UI is really easy to work from, it also takes up a lot of space as well, and I find it best to just minimize the ribbon. Though I wish just the simplest of tools were laid-out in the Quick Access Toolbar by default.

Now I’m not saying PowerPoint 2007 is bad easier. The design is nice, shape adding is cool, themes, and all that are nice. But the major think PowerPoint is lacking in is graphical effects. They really sharpen the point in PowerPoint.

              

              

Live Writer is more than just a blogger’s tool – It can also function as a word processor

Live Writer has to be the most versatile text editor there is. Although not as full-featured as Word, Live Writer can do simple word processing.

                                                                   

Simple tasks like writing things down, fair number of fonts, sizes, saving option, printing, tables, pictures, bold, italics, underline, numbering, bullets, inserting pictures, little stuff like that.

Essentially, it’s like a free and small version of Word. It’s amazing that it can do small things like that.

It’s also pretty customizable, as you can go to the Live Gallery site and download plug-ins.

Best of all, it’s FREE. And NO ADS. If somebody really needs to do word processing, and Word isn’t available, Live Writer is a great alternative. Compared to that OpenOffice crap.

Microsoft TouchTab

Rumors are flying around about a special multitouch/touchscreen tablet coming from Microsoft in a year or two. This may sound surprising, considering Microsoft doesn’t make hardware for Windows OS, but it seems like they are. I think this is due to the fact that most PC makers just don’t understand how mobile computing should work. I think this is suppose to be a joint-project between multiple hardware companies with Microsoft – all expecting a share of the profits when it sells. TouchTab is suppose to coincide with the release of Windows 7. According to some, it’s said to be ‘revolutionary’ and ‘innovative’, two words most people don’t try to associate with Microsoft. The TouchTab will incorporate popular features of laptops, tablet PC’s, among other mobile features to make it a success.

Then, there’s also another rumor about the Microsoft TouchTop – Think of this as the TouchTab but more like a desktop, stationary computer. Sort of like the Microsoft Surface table, but small enough to actually fit on your desk.

As far on any specific details, that’s about all I can gather from these rumors. No pictures or any specified features. Sorry.

At first, I immediately thought this wouldn’t do so well on Microsoft’s relations to PC makers, who usually bundle Windows along with their computers. But considering that I heard it was a joint-project worked on by several PC makers, maybe they’ll be ok with this if they can just get a cut. It will be completely branded by Microsoft somehow, though the PC makers might get mentioned, though not directly on the device.

This is actually a good thing. This shows Microsoft is committed to bring next level computing to the masses. Well actually, touchscreen tablets have been here for awhile, but Microsoft (and hardware makers) for the most part, have never made them appealing to the masses. But maybe that might change now, seeing that they’ve obviously cared enough to join forces.

So even though I don’t know for sure what we’re going to see, it doesn’t hurt to wish does it? So I’ve made a list of all the things I expect to see in the so-called TouchTab. I’ll try to make it not be too Microsoft-specific, we’re these features can be applied to any future mobile device. (Though I might add in parenthesis where I would love MS technology to come in). So here it goes.

Hardware :

  • Smooth and durable plastic – I want the covering of the device to have a nice smooth surface. With as little rough spots or fingerprint-catching as possible. And make it scratchproof, or where it doesn’t scratch that easy. And of course, make it long-lasting. Think of laptops like the Vaio TX.
  • Built-in high resolution webcam – 5MP or higher maybe? I want video chats to be as clear as possible and photos taken with it to come out nice looking. And make it not stick out too much. Be as discreet but simple like the built-in iSight cams in Macs. The built-in mic should also be high quality enough to get good voice input. Just in case you feel like recording your voice or using voice recognition to move around your OS.
  • Touchscreen or multi-touch input – It would be wonderful to have a screen you could interact with. Hopefully, the thing behind it works well to detect every single touch, swipe, gesture, pen flick, etc. that you could apply to the screen. And the multi-touch better recognize multiple inputs. (I’m hoping that it would work in the same way as MS Surface)
  • Great specs (of course!) – Give nice decent specs. Give specs that will actually work well mobile. Don’t scrimp on specs. Give nice specs, and it would be even better if it could use less needed as possible and still work efficiently. And go for Compact Flash HDD too. As long as you give us the good specs, you can expect happier users.
  • Slide-out keyboard with light-up keys – Even though the screen will support touch inputs, that doesn’t mean some of us want to depart without them. I at least want the option. Make it ultra-slim to fit with the device’s design (or make it optionally removable from the screen) and I would love to see keys with light-up symbols (the symbols, not the keys themselves). I’m looking for a bluish-white (or an option to change other colors and hues) light. And make it one of those chiclet keyboards, similar to the Sony Vaio TX.
  • Light-up logo – As far as I know, only Apple and Alienware offer such a cool thing. There’s just something about a light-up part on external hardware that people just MUST have. The light-up really makes the device look cool. Please have it. Oh, and whatever logo you guys choose, DON’T make it too complex (abstract), ugly, or too overly big. That just ruins it.
  • Good external AutoDetection – Maybe the words don’t realistically meet up that way, but if it can auto-detect things, that would be neat. Such as if it become darker, to turn the light-up logo on (instead of waste energy during daytime). Of to go into sleep mode if the user hasn’t touched it for awhile. And if the laptop lid closes, automatically turn off (hope you saved first!). Just recognize external conditions and reacting well to it would be great.
  • At LEAST around 6-8 hours of battery life – The more self-reliant laptops can be, the better. But having to charge them often is a drag. Better yet, why not actually be innovative and but solar panels on the laptop? It makes it’s own energy, and it’s free!
  • No CD or DVD drive – Now I know some people still use them, but for the most part, I think average users will find them useless. These days, you can download fast and instantly to your hard drive via the internet. Download things from music tracks, to games, to movies, to tv shows, and even whole programs. The CD/DVD drive will only take up more inside space and make the device bigger.
  • Make as many port plug-ins that work well – These days, it’s as simple as connecting a device via USB and loading/downloading data. So make the ports well designed to instantly attach to the plug, without scarring it or making it too difficult to plug in.
  • Speakers that go all the way up – Don’t give me any sub-standard built-in speakers. Give them the high audio quality they deserve.
  • Lay off the system stickers – If I wanted to know what operating system or chip it is, I could just read it in the manual (providing that the manual is actually readable and to the point). But I don’t want nasty ugly stickers on the front of my device. And then the pain of carefully removing them to make sure I don’t leave sticker residue.
  • Dimensions no taller than 1" – If the tablet’s height is higher than 1", it’s definitely going to be hard to call it "ultra-portable".
  • Weigh no more than 5 lbs. – Ultra-portable also means being light.
  • Support up to the highest resolutions – Important if you like to view HD content, work with media, etc.

Software (OS):

  • Bluetooth – You know, to better connect phones, PDA’s, and even mice. And maybe to sync your (WinMo) phone OS with your computer.
  • Built-in GPS – Would really come in handy when you’re mobile. Makes it easier to find exact business or places near you on online maps, great for exact geotagging of photos, and other location-based activities.
  • Handwriting recognition – Very important if you’re a pen user.
  • Voice recognition – Important if you’re going to use voice input.
  • Fast WiFi (802.11n) connection
  • Multi-touch capable OS 
  • Calling abilities (VOIP or Live Messenger?)
  • Fingerprint scanning (directly from the screen?) and iris scanning (from the webcam?) 
  • Electronic currency standard – If it’s stands popular enough, you could use the tablet to send digital money to purchase items. You just have to wait for more businesses to find it standard everywhere.
  • Super drag-n’-drop – Share files and whatnot across other tablets by drag and dropping them across screens
  • Dialkeys pre-installed – They make great virtual keyboards. Their super nifty. They should come with ALL touch devices.
  • TV tuner – watch TV on the go
  • Origami Experience 2.0 – media playing friendly
  • Smart scroll – instead of traditional scroll, use a small circle cycle button, and just simply twirl around the circle to scroll
  • InkSeine technology – according to Microsoft, it’s a way to quickly search across things like the computer, the web, etc. In such a simplistic way.
  • OneNote included – Even if Microsoft doesn’t usually sell Office with Windows, OneNote is a must-have feature on a touch device. Taking notes, keeping journals, jotting down ideas, have never been any easier.
  • Input customizer – I don’t know if there’s one available on current touch device, but mobile users really need a way to customize what inputs they use. Like I might want to create certain shortcuts from my keyboard by punching in simple commands at once. Or the way I flick a pen/finger might indicate what I want to see show up. Things like that.
  • Wacom technology – specialized touch input at its best

Accessories/Customizations :

  • Docking station – Set so that the screen is still usable. Charges the device up and can connect to other devices as well. Simplistic in design and easy to use.
  • Laser engraving – With a multitude of designs and layouts to choose from
  • Skins – Skins to cover the device. Fur, tough rubber protection, leather, whatever.
  • Color choice – Have a spectrum of colors the way you want your tablet to be.
  • Imager/Bar Code scanner – handy for businesses
  • Credit Card reader
  • Carrying cases
  • Power adapters
  • Special mounting options – like from a wall, embedded in a wall, stationary, etc.
  • Among others

Services:

  • Back up support – Specialized back up to the companies servers
  • Stores – Real store locations across the countries
  • Repair services
  • Special purchasing deals with large enterprises/schools
  • All the works

So pretty much basically incorporate things that practically everyone wants, and you’re good. If there’s anything else I should add, drop a comment.

Flickr – the possible impact Microsoft could have on the site with the possible Y! acquisition

Most people who are against the Y! deal, is mainly because of one reason : Flickr.

                                    + = ?

The most popular Y! property, is one that Y! really has as little to do with. There is integration of Y! ID, Yahoo! Maps (geotagging photos) and Yahoo! ads, but that’s about the only main thing. Flickr has pretty much kept the same simplified look it started with, and is still doing a hot job of what a photo-sharing site ought to be.

Most people have varying opinions on what possible outcome there could be on Flickr with the Yahoo! acquisition. Most being negative because it involves Microsoft of course.

So I decided to come up with 2 scenarios, the best possible outcome and the worst possible outcome when Microsoft buys Y! and gets Flickr. Here it goes:

SCENARIO : Good outcome

  • Pro account fees go instantly down – Flickr has a professional account with more features, but it comes at about $25 a year, which can still be quite a lot to most people. Microsoft, in order to keep the userbase from fleeing away, will most likely drop down pro account fees. I’m seeing around $15. This is a great thing.
  • Integration with Windows – There will be ways to make it easier to upload straight to Flickr from  Windows. Possibly in Microsoft’s picture software, or the picture folder on the system. Metadata (tags) that you put on your photos on the OS, can be synced to Flickr. It’s already possible with Windows Live Photo Gallery.
  • Site pretty much stays the same as it was – Now I don’t know how the whole Yahoo! ID thing will work, but most likely the site will stay the same, because that’s how people already like it. No need to fix what’s not broken. There will be NO Windows Live Photos, or migration to Live Spaces, or nothing like that. It’s going to stay the same as it pretty much was before.
  • Making adCenter ads spread to more users – This would be awesome for Microsoft and its advertisers. I’m seeing just simple text ads, none of that crazy annoying graphical banner ads.
  • Photosynth integration – Maybe now PhotoSynth will be ready to allow users to make a virtual 3D panorama of their photos. Or share them with other users as well.
  • HD View integration – Then there’s HD View. It’s like panoramic stitching of many photos but the ability to zoom in and out and get a pretty good high quality detail of the photo.
  • PhotoZoom integration – Another technology, very similar to HD View, but utilizes Silverlight and RSS/Atom feeds. Very neat. Check out the video.
  • Better JPEG XR/HD Photo introduction – Taking photos to the next level, Microsoft made this format. It has more higher quality rendering than the regular JPEG. This would be a great thing for users.
  • Media Center integration – Imagine surfing Flickr pics right from your couch. Or your own sets and photos you’ve made on Flickr. Very nice.
  • Silverlight integration – This could be a good thing if done right. I’d love to see Silverlight thrown on somehow. Maybe when browsing for photos? Where you can sort of interact with photos similar to a touch surface? Tossing photos you find interesting over here, other groups there, stretch out a few to see them in higher res, flip them to get their info., etc.
  • Group Shot software – This tool, created by Microsoft, can scan through a series of similar facial photos, and pick the best ones to put into one photo.
  • Live Search to definitely outdo Google Search in Image searching – Usually, any image search engine from the top 3 search companies doesn’t always contain the photos we want. Since Flickr has user-made photos, and since users are usually smarter than computers as to what we WANT to see, this would be far more reliable than using some fancy computer algorithm.
  • This could drive away the anti-MS fans – I go on Flickr a lot, and I notice a lot of anti-MS hate (all the time) on there. So maybe this will make some foolish Apple lover, go find some "alternative" and realize that MS doing all these things like I said in the bullet, has made Flickr better. That Microsoft isn’t as bad as they think it is. Of course, flamboyant Mac fans would probably never listen to reason, but to what satisfies their eye, eye candy.
  • Microsoft will learn to support other browsers – If they’re going to do any changes to Flickr, they’ll probably have to apply the same changes not to just Flickr IE users, but to all other browsers as well. This might finally get some WinLive/MSN sites in compliance with other internet browsers, or make sure IE8 will be indeed better in doing this.

SCENARIO : Bad outcome

  • Pro account fees stay the same OR go up – Microsoft doesn’t feel the need to win users over and show that they’re not idiots, so they just keep the price the same. Or the acquisition costs so much, that they might raise fees to bring some money back. Bad idea.
  • Loss of support for other browsers – though it would be pretty weird to go backwards in support for other browsers when Flickr already has it there, there could be a chance that Microsoft will be flimsy on supporting other browsers.
  • Taking Flickr, and turning it into Windows Live Photos – Microsoft might make the unwise decision to try to incorporate an already successful separate site, and make it work into their already existing site networks. The problem is, is that Windows Live still needs a ton of work (in the way it both looks and functions) and Flickr wouldn’t at all fit with Windows Live branding. And dropping it into Spaces and requiring Windows Live ID will make you infamous.
  • NO good blogs – The Flickr team employees love to blog, where as Microsoft employees don’t always have the appreciate for blogging regularly. Not all of them, but there seems to be quite many (hint : check out the numerous Live team Spaces).
  • Changing the look – Some people might fear that Microsoft will try to give a whole makeover to the site, but the makeover might make it uglier, harder to navigate, and slower. Not hard to believe with Microsoft’s past record.
  • Making it completely Silverlight – While Silverlight is amazing technology, not everybody might have access to it, or feel like they should have to download a "Microsoft" product just to view it.
  • Rabid fanboys go on a rampage – Those groups threatening to leave Flickr if bought by ‘M$’ might actually stay and try to cause trouble. Posting up as many (maybe even duplicates) of anti-MS hate FUD across Flickr. The whole point of Flickr is to share and find awesome photos. Hating isn’t what people want to see.

That about sums it up. Hopefully, Microsoft will take the smart route, and be careful with every crucial decision that might possibly kill the site’s userbase. One false move, and the acquisition of the Flickr site has become useless. So contrary to peoples’ doubts about Microsoft, I’ll take the high road and be optimistic about it.