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MSN Spaces: My First Week. And a bit.

 I’ll put on my cheerleading skirt for a moment – well done to the MSN Spaces team. It rocks. I love it. It took a few false starts to get the hang of it, but now I’m really liking the little corner I’ve carved.

I love it so much that I’ve pretty much moved over to using my MSN Space for all my home blogging needs. So I’m basically thinking that it’s pretty darn good. I’m sold, kudos, well done, love your work.

Now, to remove the skirt and put on my critic’s beret, here’s some more specific likes and dislikes:

The Good:

  • Being able to restrict the site to just the people in my MSN Messenger contact list. I feel much more comfortable posting personal stuff than I did when I had a publicly internet-accessible blog.
  • I found a theme that I really like
  • In most places, the UI is straightforward and easy to use
  • List building is fun
  • The photo slide shows are great eye candy

The Bad:

  • I quite often end up at the “Sign Up” page when trying to add to my space from Messenger at home, and have to sign out of passport then sign back in to get to the space editing page.
  • From work, I seem to have frequent problems connecting to my home Passport account’s Contact Card, though I can see it’s been updated from the little shiny thingy thing. MSN Messenger 7 is just a beta, fingers crossed for the final version.
    • Update: Fixed the problem at work by emptying Temporary Internet Files, and deleting the C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Application Data\Microsoft\MSN Messenger folders. As a warning, this does nuke (I’m told) anything you’ve customized or bought, but I wasn’t really worried about that, myself. Remember, Messenger 7 is still a Beta right now – I’d recommend waiting for the RTM version if you’re concerned.
      • Update 2: looks like just Listcache.DAT needs to go, not the whole lot.
    • Also, I learned that the little shiny thingy is called “gleam” from Jay. Thanks Jay!
    • Update 2: Mike blogged about some other changes being made to fix this and other glitches. (One of which is re-permissioning your site).
    • Update 3: Dare also mentions this in his post.

The Confusing:

  • To be completely honest, I seem to consistently click the wrong part of the photo upload control for what I’m trying to do. I generally just want to re-title something, but end up clicking the photo itself, viewing it, then having to back out to change the title. I know, it’s all there for me, I just haven’t trained myself to use it better yet.
  • While I’m on the photo upload control – it seems to untick stuff from folders I’ve already been through and ticked if I change the folder view. Fair enough.
  • Rating WMP play lists: I might rate an album, but generally a playlist I’ve made is just going to have the songs I think are four-or-five stars anyway? Instead, I’d like to see the UI allow me to add an Album instead of just playlists ( I looked, but didn’t see a way to do this ). So far, I’ve been putting albums into playlists, then adding the playlists to the site and rating them, but that seems… well… kinda silly. I tend to buy albums rather than playlists, but it might just be me…

The Inevitable Feature Requests:

  • A photo paste control. What do I mean? Well, I’m basically sick to death of pasting OneNote screen clippings into Paint.Net, saving them as a JPEG, then browsing to the location I just saved the photo to to upload it. If such a marvellous thing existed, when I had an image copied to the clipboard, I could simply paste it into the control and upload it, entering the title at the time. None of this annoying format conversion stuff (it’s not a problem with MSN Spaces alone, but it’s where I most often need to do this).
    • Update: Rather than sit here and whine about my particular edge case, I’m playing around with doing something like this in .Net. I’ve often wanted a more automated method of producing images from little screen clippings, so it might be useful (and fun).
  • Support for star-ratings on custom lists. If I want to rate a book or movie two stars to warn my friends off, I’d like to be able to do so without having to tap it into the description.
  • Support for multiple passports, and/or a better method of dynamically managing group membership. I’ve killed off my work passport Space because I’m sticking with this site for the work blog, but I’d like to be able to author content for my home space using my work passport. I wouldn’t, however, want my work contacts to have access to my home blog.
  • Some way to re-initialize the space without losing the URL – I lost my first few URLs because I wanted to start again, or had technical difficulties at first (in the wee hours of the launch)

Again, fantastic job, and an amazing effort for a V1 beta.