Microsoft accquires Multimap

Microsoft has acquired UK based map service Multimap for a rumoured £25 million. With online map services being a frequently visited resource by browsers, this appears to be Microsoft's attempt to hook into the UK/EU map market, where it has a very small foothold with its late appearance to that sector.
I like many others, used Multimap extensively and exclusively back in the 2000 – 2005 era.
Sadly, Multimap did not seem to evolve, yes there were changes to the website and the use of the mapping tools. The main change that I encountered was the increase of adverts, which combined with a general slow down of the website; it really was a pain to use on my NT4 – IE5.5 machine.
Admittedly, it has all changed again and now has that smooth and slick feeling to it, using Ajax and drag-drop scrolling. There are still some adverts on the website and when I last visited it attempted to open a popup window.
Was it all too little, too late?
When Google maps appeared on the scene, it changed how maps were used and accessed online. Gone was the continual refreshing of the page and trying to focus on a place that was halfway between two sections of a map. It was quicker and less cluttered and didn't offer you cheap hotels on every screen.
I would guess Microsoft would be looking to link in this newly acquired service with its existing products, so expect Live Search to make an appearance soon along with the advertise side of things when the current contracts end.

Is it a butterfly?

Microsoft has set up a research website (http://www.inkblotpassword.com) that allows users to generate a password, based on a random series of inkblots that the user links to a keyword. The first and last letters of that word are entered by the user and so starts the base of their password.

The first thing you will notice on this site is that it uses another Microsoft research project asirra (http://research.microsoft.com/asirra/). On choosing your username and playing the “guess the animal right” game, you get to the generate password screen.

The Inkblots are stacked up in 2 rows allowing you to enter 2 different passwords based on the images. You can customise the number of images to show from 5 to 10, effectively limiting the password length between 10 and 20 characters in length.

The about page hints that this system can lead to highly randomised yet memorable passwords increasing security, Yet it's recommended you don't use your account for any important data.

In an effort to maximise the potential of this system it is run on a OpenID server and allows single sign-on usage using Open ID, across any website that supports the
Protocol.

Therefore, a different approach to password generation, can allow the user more chance to create visual relationships in order to remember their password.

It leaves me with two questions.
The first was originally a little fun, hence the blog title but then the second occurred to me.

1) How many passwords will contain the letters “by” (butterfly)? 🙂
2) And could all those butterlfies be a potential security risk?

Prawn to be wild

Everyones favourite online prawn returns to the internet with funding by T-Mobile. In a 12 part mini-series of games telling the tale of how he end up on the moon and also to advertise T-mobile.
In the games you control the boy prawn as he interacts with alot of familiar faces from Weebl's website.

If you haven't played any of the game yet I advise that you head on over to the website get started on the first game.

We all scream for IMAP

It appears that Google is now offering IMAP on their email accounts. Although POP3 support has been in place since late 2004, the one key element that was missing was the Internet Message Access Protocol.

This has been a missing feature that has been a barrier for many potential users looking to migrate to google mail. With the introduction of this feature users will be able to access and interact with their inbox from multiple devices (PC, Laptop, Mobile, PDA). This provide users with more flexibility on how they manage and manipulate their inbox, no-matter which device they choose logon from.

This sole feature could be the element that opens the door for Google where business customers are concerned. As part of their Google Apps (http://www.google.com/a/) for Businesses, Gmail is thrown in, as part of the bundle.

While POP3 was the only method for retrieving emails from devices unless you used the Ajax-rich online client, the users' experience was somewhat limited.

I doubt if I'd be wrong in saying the targetted/potential audience for this protocol is more within the business sector, moreso than your standard home user.

Source: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/free-imap-for-gmail.html