Hotmail’s new look–15 years and going strong

If you’re like me, Hotmail was the first real email address you had. It was the coolest thing to see your nickname and getting really excited if and when someone emailed you. Hotmail launched in 1995 and was one of the first free email service.

Over the years, unfortunately, Hotmail started to lose its luster, especially with a whole lot of new free email providers cropping up like mushroom. Hotmail with its clunky design and lack of features (2MB space only!) got left behind.

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From left : (i) The small crowd of techies & bloggers
(ii) Unsubscribing from a newsletter with a dropdown menu within Hotmail.

Fast forward to 2011 and Hotmail is still (surprisingly) the largest free email service in the planet with 360 MILLION unique users per month who receive 9 billion and send 300 million emails Every Day! And in celebration of its 15th year, Hotmail is ready to unveil new features! These new features offer improvements in the vital areas of spam filtering (which is a big issue for Hotmail users), performance, storage and mobile compatibility.

“We’ve all used Hotmail at one point in time and we loved it for its features and simplicity. Things are a bit more complicated today. People want more than just an email address. Users want huge storage space, seamless integration with instant messaging and contact management as well as easy access across all mobile devices.

With our latest Hotmail release, we are bringing all this and more to our users. Hotmail has come along way since its humble beginnings. It is now more feature rich, more integrated and more secure than ever before. It’s the perfect time to fall in love again with Hotmail, “ said Barrie Ooi, Head of Windows Live, Asia Pacific.

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From left : (i) Attached photos will be automatically presented in a album format
(ii) Hotmail is coming to Mobile. In fact I think the Android one is launching later today!

Last night, I was invited as part of a select group of bloggers who were given a sneak preview of the new features launching today (press release was embargoed till 6am this morning) by Microsoft. Barrie, quoted above walked us through some of the exciting things coming to Hotmail in the next few weeks.

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The new features include:

  • Smart Newsletter Filtering which allows users to highlight and delete newsletters with a single click or unsubscribe completely.
  • Categories and advanced folder management that allow users to choose to categorize their messages in the inbox as opposed to having to file them in separate folders.
  • Scheduled cleanup allows you to automatically get red of emails of a certain age sweeping away old newsletter and out-of-date offers. You can also now keep only the last message from the sender.
  • Flags done right that position your priority messages right at the top of your inbox. No more having to mark messages as unread or email them back to yourself to keep them at the top of your mind.
  • Instant Actions are buttons that appear when your mouse hovers over a message allowing you to delete, flag, sweep, etc messages with one click. Users can also customize their UI by adding and removing buttons based on the tasks they use the most.

One of my favourite new feature is the Sweep function. The sweep function lets you select a bunch of emails then proceed to setup rules or filters on how these emails should be have (get deleted, move to a folder, etc). This will be really convenient for people who have tons of email.

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Hotmail has always been (unfortunately) associated with spam and they know it. In fact, they found out that 35% of your inbox is made up of spam. That’s more than 1/4 ! Thus, they have implemented a SmartScreen filter (made up of humans reporting spam and a computer algorithm) and managed to cut down the spam to ONLY 3% currently. In fact you can see the sharp dip in the left image below.

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Another interesting fact is that Hotmail servers has the storage capacity of 140 Petabyte! 140 petabyte =1400 terrabyte = 1400000 gigabyte! Not only that, they are continuously increasing 10% every month (or was it week? I forgot.) That’s how Hotmail can give you virtually unlimited storage. Best part is, you can send attachments of up to 100MB – compared to the usual 10MB!

After a scrumptious dinner at Apartment, KLCC and an interesting demo and discussion with Barrie, we were given instructions not to announce anything until the press conference with media today. We were also given some Windows Live goodies. I also won a set of Windows Live plushies! Don’t they look cute?

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So what do you think? I think Hotmail’s new features looks very useful and this puts them back in the running with the other big email giants like Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. Was Hotmail your first email too?

Create your own Twitter Character!

This is a pretty cool “customized” infographic for you Twitter users out there. Quite fun and interesting project from the people over at Visual.ly

Get your own here – http://visual.ly/twitter

infographicTwitter

One of my gripes about the infographic is that I don’t seem to have a unique URL to show people my character. So what I did was I screenshot the whole thing so that I can share it here.

Whoops my bad, you can get a short unique URL to show people. And also, I’ve noticed that it seems to track back only to a certain time, meaning the topics are what you’ve talked about in the past few days or past 1 week, I’m not sure. This is because my character this week is different from the one I did above. Also it’ll be quite cute if I can actually use the character created as my display picture automatically.

But still quite cute and good work from Visual.ly & @shanesnow

Get One Million FREE Facebook Credits with U Mobile + Giveaway!

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, well alternate weekends anyway so posted this a bit late. Heh

Anyway a couple of weeks back, I was invited to the  “1Million Facebook Credits Giveaway with U Mobile” party . The event was held at DELIcious, Marc Residences on a workday evening. I got there quite on time I think but they started late – I guess its due to the jam and all that. KL is really a nightmare to drive in during peak hours.

U Mobile is proud to announce that they are the FIRST TELCO in Asia to have an exclusive partnership with Facebook to offer FREE Facebook Credits with every U Mobile reload!

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“I’m also happy to say that this is the first time that Facebook is partnering with any telco in Asia to give away Facebook Credits. This makes U Mobile the only telco service provider in Asia with this one-of-a-kind feature to offer its subscribers,” Dr Kaizad Heerjee, CEO of U Mobile excited about this new partnership with Facebook

Before that, what is Facebook Credits? Its used to purchase digital goods and other enhancements for more than 600 social games and applications on Facebook. FB Credits is a consistent and trusted way to make purchases. So the next time you want to water your farm, build your city or gain some kind of advantage in a Facebook game, FB Credits is the way to go!

U Mobile’s unique offering to its users is a result of its recent collaboration with Facebook, the world’s most popular social networking site, and MOL AccessPortal Sdn Bhd, the official distributor of Facebook Credits in Southeast Asia.

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Ganesh Kumar Bangah, CEO, MOL Access Portal, Dr. Kaizad Heerjee, CEO, U Mobile, and Stephen Dolan, Commercial Director for Facebook in Singapore and Southeast Asia tossing coins at the ‘One Million Facebook Credits Giveaway with U Mobile’ Celebration. (I think this pic of Dr Kaizad tossing coins is cute)

“Our goal is to make Facebook Credits as accessible as possible to people everywhere that use Facebook,” said Stephen Dolan, Commercial Director for Facebook in Southeast Asia. “This collaboration with U Mobile and MOL AccessPortal will enable people to quickly and simply earn Facebook Credits for use in their favourite games and applications.”

U Mobile will be working closely with MOL AccessPortal to ensure a seamless and consistent user experience.

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(From left to right) Stephen Dolan, Commercial Director for Facebook in Singapore and Southeast Asia, Ganesh Kumar Bangah, CEO, MOL Access Portal and Dr. Kaizad Heerjee, CEO, U Mobile Sdn. Bhd celebrating a historical partnership at the ‘One Million Facebook Credits Giveaway with U Mobile’ party.

So how do you get the Facebook Credits? For every RM20 top-up or more, subscribers will receive 2 Facebook Credits and 1 Credit with an additional reload of RM10. There’s a daily cap of 20 Credits per user per day and a monthly cap of 50 credits per month. It just takes some simple steps :

  1. Like the Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/umobilesb
  2. Reload your prepaid U Mobile account and you will receive a code via SMS
  3. Go to the Facebook page and click “U Mobile Facebook Credit Redemption” (or http://on.fb.me/umobilefb)
  4. Key in your code = Get free credit!

After the launch ceremony, we played a couple of games which were quite fun. One was collecting gold coins (chocolate coins) scattered/stuck all over DELIcious. There were on the trees, on the walls, at the tables. Was quite funny to see people poking all around to find coins. Another was everyone was given half a coin and we had to find our “match” and we can redeem the code.

Throughout the event we also played a game on Twitter. There were a number of questions asked and the first  person to get his/her followers to answer the most questions correctly will win a prize. Thanks to awesome Twitter friends like @nescagraff and gang, I won a HTC Wildfire! Its not often I win games at events so I was quite happy!

Thank you U Mobile for the fun night! ^_^

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Since there is 1 Million Facebook Credits from U Mobile to giveaway, I also have some to giveaway to my readers! Top 5 people who gets the most RTs will win 20 Facebook Credits each!

Just do the 4 steps below :

  1. Follow @umobilesb on Twitter
  2. Tweet this : “1Mil FB Credits Giveaway with @umobilesb http://bit.ly/fbumobile ! #zestfulorg”
  3. Get your friends to RT your tweet.
  4. Top 5 people with the most RTs by 11.59pm Tuesday, 12 July 2011 gets 20 Facebook Credits each

Terms & Conditions

  • You may add more words to the tweet as long as the line given is intact.
  • Your twitter profile cannot be private.
  • Contest closes at 11.59pm on Tuesday, 12 July 2011.
  • The judge’s decision is final

So what are you waiting for?

Media Statement on Social Media Campaign by Tourism Malaysia

So Tourism Malaysia has released a media statement in regards to the 1.8Mil spent  for their Social Media Campaign (particularly Facebook). Original source in a Facebook Note and the content is reproduced in its entirety below.

MEDIA STATEMENT

The digital platform is a very powerful persuasion media tool for marketing in today’s IT era.  National Tourism organizations and major multinational corporations are all focusing on digital campaigns eg. Australia Tourism Organization.

Tourism Malaysia is now embarking on digital marketing, promotions, advertising and branding through social media aimed at creating and developing six (6) tourism event campaigns as follows:

  • Citrawarna 1Malaysia
  • 1Malaysia Malaysia Mega Sale/Malaysia Year End Sale
  • Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia
  • 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism contest
  • 1Malaysia Green and Clean Campaign
  • Fabulous Food 1Malaysia

The RM1.8million budget is used for:

 

1.           Technical

1.1         Dedicated hardware deployment

1.2         Software licensing

1.3         Front end applications

1.4         Application Server engine

 

2.           Development of six (6) campaigns which requires:

2.1         Flash games engine

2.2         Flash programming & coding

2.3         Creative Development and Design

2.4         Campaigns Ideas and Concept

2.5         Front-end Flash Design

2.6         Testing and Debugging

 

3.           Campaign Promotions

3.1         Digital advertising campaigns on Google and Facebook

3.2         Contest, Page Wall and Tourism Fanpage Content Management

3.3         Collection and management of Database

 

The success of digital campaigns require a team of qualified professionals as well as technical experts as this is not just about setting up Facebook pages.  Our digital promotion, marketing and branding effort is entirely different from the political Facebook Fanpage that costs nothing to establish.

The setup of Facebook Fanpage is free and not a cent is spent. DAP has completely twisted the truth and said the allocation was for the creation of the Facebook pages.

The success of a digital campaign is reflected in the number of fans joining the Fanpage. We have been very successful in the first campaign i.e the Citrawarna 2011 which has todate,  recorded  24, 736 fans, thereby providing Tourism Malaysia with 24, 736 potential tourists; all these gotten within four (4) weeks only.

This is just the beginning of our entire intensive digital campaign; the fan-base is still rising and looks set to achieve its KPI of minimum 120,000 fans by end of December 2011.

In comparison with the Penang Tourism Facebook which DAP said is for free (which is the truth) as this is because they did not execute any campaigns in the Fanpage.

Tourism is the fifth economic industry bringing to the country RM56billion last year and Malaysia is ranked 9th position of the most travelled to destination in the world by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO).

Thus, all our marketing and promotional efforts must be professionally done and this include our digital campaigns as they are not merely about information but about persuasion, marketing and branding unlike the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia’s Facebook Fanpage which is meant to inform thus it is free.

We, in Tourism Malaysia will not allow ourselves to be sabotaged by leaders who choose to twist the truths and destroy Tourism Malaysia’s efforts in digital marketing promotions and branding.

Today, tourists’ behavior had changed to consuming information from social media and online channels.  Therefore, any organizations, including neighbouring National Tourism Organisations (NTO’s) have been quick to realize the potential of social media such as Facebook in their marketing strategies.  To cite a few, the Philippines Tourism Department has set aside 100 million pesos or RM7million in their 2011 budget, for their Facebook venture (source: newmedia.com.ph).

The Australia Tourism Board has allocated AUD150million over the next three years for their social media initiative (source: socialmedianews.com.au.

Nationmultimedia.com also reported that the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is boosting its online promotional activities in its efforts to maintain Thailand’s position as a leading tourist destination. The agency is to increase its budget for promotions via online channels to 40% (from 30% in 2010) of its total marketing budget. (source: nationmultimedia.com).

The beauty of digital platform is that information distributed is the most-up-to-date and very dynamic.  It allows us to be more flexible and to promote the nearest events.  Now, it is possible for even local tourism operators to feed tourism information in the social media world.

The Fanpage sets as its KPI and aims to achieve the following targets:

  1. An average of 20,000 fans per campaign
  2. Minimum 120,000 fans by the end of December 2011
  3. To increase traffic and encourage domestic and international tourism
  4. To act as a promotional tool to disseminate information for Tourism Malaysia, Ministry of Tourism and Government.
  5. Tourism Malaysia and the Ministry of Tourism will be able to communicate directly with at least 120,000 fans (Malaysians and foreigners) by the end of the year through the Fanpage and Database compiled from the applications.

Thank you.

My Comments : Took them sometime but their response was quite prompt by ministry standards. I have a feeling that this statement will not be enough for most people though.

When the Past catches up

“I’m usually reluctant to meet ppl from my past because I feel that I’m different now and
I’m not sure how they would feel about that.”

My mind apparently likes to go on overdrive after hours so I tweeted this last night. We all change in a certain extent when time passes. we are not the person we were last week, a month ago, 6 months ago, 1 year ago, 5 years ago. Experiences & time taught us things that will effect our thinking and, ultimately, actions. Also not only mentally but perhaps physically as well.

“Different” might be good for me. But is it good to everyone else? Or vice versa. Example: if I were a partying girl before and decided to make a change and cut down on that lifestyle, my “kaki” would think that the change was “not good” for them because it means they are missing out another person in their clique.

Or say your meeting an old friend: You recently changed your physical look (fatter/thinner/darker/fairer/haircut/style) and the last time you met this friend was 2 years ago, would she/he not remember you as how you were before? Would he/she be surprised to see you now? Would that surprise be positive or negative?

I guess we are usually more concerned especially about what the opposite sex thinks of us ( don’t lie guys, I know you feel the same too). But i think this applies to everyone. Like @karenique said on twitter, “general public are not accustomed to change. and when we stop living their version of us, it’s bad.”

Is this an indication of low self esteem? I don’t really think so. I personally like to think we all have our little “fears” and “doubts” every once in a while. This is one of mine. Which is why I don’t like reunions.

Now back to my original paragraph, what do i do? My “coping mechanism” would be to avoid it. When some people (please note that this does not apply to everyone) asks to meet up, I find it hard to set down a date and time. I have inconsistent working hours so I don’t really know when I leave the office everyday (which is TRUE btw) but sometimes I will just say that I’m “busy” and leave it at that. I’m sorry but that’s just how I deal.

So when the past catches up on you, how do you respond?

P/s: to that old friend who asked me out recently, we’ll meet sometime next week, ok?