Welcome to “Rob Dolin’s Space”

Welcome to “Rob Dolin’s Space.”  This is an archive of content that originally appeared on the MSN Spaces page that I started in March of 2006 when I joined the MSN Spaces team.

You can find my latest blog by visiting http://blog.RobDolin.com/ and you can generally connect with me via http://www.RobDolin.com/.

Posted in Technology | 1 Comment

Comment on your friends’ social updates in messenger

I like how Windows Live Messenger has a dialog showing how you can comment on people’s social updates. 

(When you post a comment via Messenger, it calls an API that I worked on.)

Try it today. 

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Test App

I’m writing a test app for http://dev.live.com/.   I’ll post more when it’s available.
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Upgrading our family PC’s

I’ve written in the past about Recommendations for a Clean PC (2008) and What I installed on my home Windows 7 PC (2009.)  However, there is some fabulous new software available so below are my latest recommendations:

  • Windows 7 – The best balance of stability, speed, and usability.  My favorite feature is the <win> + <arrow> that moves a window to the left or right. 
  • Office 2010 (free trial) – I LOVE the way that Outlook merges all emails in a conversation regardless of
  • Windows Live Essentials (free) – Messenger Social is a great way to keep-up with you friends on a variety of social networks including Facebook and MySpace.  Windows Live Sync is a great upgrade for Live Mesh supporting sync’ing files between PC’s, to my SkyDrive, and allowing remote access.
  • IE (free with Win7), Flock (free) – These are my two favorite browsers.  I use IE for productivity but I also like Flock for social browsing with it’s “People pane.”  I have various accounts on various services and I’ve found the easiest way to manage these is to have a different browser for each account.  My personal favorites are IE and Flock, but they all install rather quickly and it makes knowing what is signed-in as RobDolin vs. TessPhotos is very helpful.
  • TweetDeck (free) – If I’m at a conference and want to follow a few threads of conversation at once, this multi-column social media monitor is a great tool. 

Being an amateur web developer, I also have a few tools I recommend:

  • Expression Web 4 (free trial) – This is my tool of choice for editing HTML as well as viewing XML.  It’s quick, convenient, and has great visual editing and preview features
  • Visual Web Dev 2010 (free) – This is my favorite tool for editing ASP.net / C# files.  Intellisense makes it massively easy to remember function or method names and to not typo variable names. 
  • Fiddler (free) – Kudos to Eric Lawrence for this excellent HTTP traffic watching tool. 

Thanks very much for reading.  I hope you find all of the recommendations to be useful for you.  Take care–
Rob Dolin

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Messenger Social Everywhere

As previously announced, the Windows Live Essentials beta will be available later today.  (link

I’m stupendously excited for the public availability of this re-invention of Messenger.  The IM / chat experience continues to evolve to be richer and richer including sharing documents and photos.  And Messenger gets social with the new integration with social sharing activities from Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Pandora, WordPress, Blogger, and more.  Even though Messenger may not be available for download yet (as of 6:00am PDT), you can start connecting social services at http://profile.live.com/services/.  And, I LOVE the new Messenger for iPhone that released a few days ago.  It’s downloadable from the iPhone app store by searching for “Windows Live Messenger.”  As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I can take pictures on my iPhone and share these to Facebook, Messenger, MySpace, and Twitter.

As my colleague Ye Gu mentioned, “Don’t have an iPhone?  No worries.”  Fear not Verizon and T-Mobile subscribers, there are ways you can experience Messenger Social too. 

  • Web – Point your web browser to http://home.live.com/ and you’ll see a web-based version of the Messenger Social experience.
  • Mobile web – Point the browser on your blackberry, android, etc. to http://m.live.com/
  • SMS – Go to http://sms.live.com/ to get set-up and then you can send TXT messages to update your Messenger status, read your Hotmail email, check your Windows Live Calendar, and of course catch-up on Messenger Social.


Posted in Social Networking | 2 Comments

Introduction to Activity Streams

I’ve been thinking about ways to make the Activity Streams specification more accessible or approach-able.  I’ve drafted the below thoughts describing basic components of an Activity Entry.  I’d welcome your feedback via blog comments or via tweets @RobDolin.  Thanks very much–

P.S. The latest spec, links to the wiki and discussion group, and other materials can be found at http://ActivityStrea.ms/.  Some contributors also tweet with the #ActivityStreams hashtag.


Activity Streams describes a set of wire formats for serializing common user activities on social sharing websites.

Activity Entry Components

Each activity entry must have three component elements and may have additional optional activity entry component elements:

  • Author/Actor – the person who took the action
  • Verb – a description of the action
  • Object – the object of the activity
  • (Optional) Target – the container of the activity

To help readers better understand, here are some examples:

The activity “John Smith posted Home Movie” would include component elements:
Author: John Smith; Verb: Post; Object: Home Movie

The activity “Jane Doe saved Toolbox to Wishlist would include component elements:
Author: Jane Done; Verb: Save; Object: Toolbox; Target: Wishlist

Children of Activity Entry Components

Each activity entry component MUST have a uniquely identifying URI.
Each activity entry component MAY also include additional optional information

  • ID – A uniquely identifying URI
  • (Optional) Title – A succinct textural description
  • (Optional) Link – A reference to a web page
  • (Optional) Picture/Thumbnail – A reference to an image file which SHOULD be greater than 16x16px and less than 240x240px
  • (Optional) Summary – A succinct description
  • (Optional) Enclosure – A reference to a large version of a media file

To give specific examples, in the case of an Author/Actor:

  • ID – The user’s unique ID on the service
  • Title – The user’s name
  • Link – A URL to the user’s profile page
  • Picture/Thumbnail – A URL to the user’s profile photo
  • Summary – The user’s short biography
  • Enclosure – not used

And another example, In the case of a post Verb:

  • ID – A URL to a description of the post Verb

And finally, an example for a photo Object:

  • ID – The unique ID of the photo on the service
  • Title – The title or file name of the photo
  • Link – A URL to a web page that displays the photo
  • Picture / Thumbnail – A URL to a small version of the photo
  • Summary – A user-entered caption on the photo
  • Enclosure – A URL to the full sized version of the photo


Continue learning about Activity Streams at http://ActivityStrea.ms/

Posted in Social Networking | 1 Comment

Update Facebook, Messenger, MySpace, and Twitter all from your iPhone

With this morning’s launch of the Messenger for iPhone application and the launch of improved Facebook and MySpace integrations with Windows Live, you can now update your status once and have it shared with your friends on a host of popular social services. 

Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Connect Messenger to Facebook: http://profile.live.com/Services/Add.aspx?appid=1140906031
    (check the option to “Share my Windows Live status and activities with my Facebook friends”)
  2. Connect Messenger to MySpace: http://profile.live.com/Services/Add.aspx?appid=1140860417
    (check the option to “Share my Windows Live status with my MySpace friends”)
  3. Connect MySpace to Twitter: http://www.myspace.com/sync 

Now when you update your status in Messenger (whether from PC, Web, iPhone, mobile web, or SMS) it will cross-publish to all of your friends on the various services. 


P.S. You can read more about Messenger for iPhone from my colleague Ye Gu on the Windows Live team blog.

P.P.S Here’s what it looks like for a simple text-only update written once with the Messenger for iPhone app and posted to all four services:

Messenger (as shown on my web profile):




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