Express Software

The voting booth for that Made in Express contest is now open. Twelve finalists, as linked below. I have to give every one of these guys “props” for participating, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to turn off the snark filter:

Tim Shay – Here’s YARS (Yet Another Radio Station), claiming that it was NJAORS (Not Just Another Online Radio Station). I’m not quite sure what’s wrong with That, and… Tim proves that all Microsoft platform developers translate UI as “unimportant interface.” Suggestion: find a Web interface partner.

Sanchez Roman Canlas – For those of you who think that Microsoft Agent is teh shiz, you can place John C. Dvorak a curmudgeon chat bot on your desktop. Cute, but… about 10 years too late. Maybe if my real-life therapist wasn’t so darn entertaining, I might like the desktop curmudgeon bot a bit more. Suggestion: no comment.

Mark Johnson – He’s got a community-based video remix tool. So, this is a Web-based video editing tool? If so, that’s very cool – and very needed. Mark hasn’t uploaded any files for us to see, though. Suggestion: drop the remix/mashup thing, focus on the basic editing features.

Edmon Begoli – Let’s throw Web services at the X-10 protocol. Not a bad idea, although I think home automation is still 20 years away – and the products have to get 1000% more reliable. The big problem with X-10 is the brand association – pop-unders, anyone? Suggestion: develop it for all wireless home automation protocols, not just X-10.

Daniel Crenna – A “poker bot” is nice if you like the game. I, however, live in the state of Washington – where it is now illegal to discuss, write, or think about poker. Suggestion: polish the UI, release it as the first video poker game that doesn’t try to upsell you.

Ali Khalid – Dude, an instant (live) IM translation plugin is long overdue. This is the most original idea in the entire “Made in Express” contest. It shouldn’t be an MSN plugin, it should be a Trillian plugin. Microsoft Research allegedly developed a similar tool a few years ago, but never released it! Suggestion: don’t stop until this works with every IM client out there.

Douglas Steen – As a “visual learner,” I appreciate the concept – but his execution leaves something to be desired. Couldn’t figure ‘er out, got confused, kept clicking, got more confused. Suggestion: make it more imagey, less texty.

Chris Fuenty – How many of you don’t already have an IRC client? Here’s an AJAX-driven Internet Relay Chat script. On the surface, it’s rather blase – but I’d give my left nut to eliminate all Web-based Java (and ActiveX) IRC Web applets. Suggestion: work on the interface, send it to chat mods for suggestions, domainte the Web-based IRC chatosphere.

Ernie Hall – What kid wouldn’t want his or her own all-terrain, self-maneuverable robot? The problem with robots, however, is that they’re not very sexy. Suggestion: slap a camera on it and let it videocast adventures.

Jonas Martinsson – Newspaperize your fave feeds into PDF. Still has a long way to go, but I’d say that sample output is quite nifty. The only thing that keeps me from installing and recommending the app wholeheartedly is the need to install SQL Server 2005 Express Edition first – which I’m not going to do on my desktop. Suggestion: push forward with this one, but rely on something else for feed information storage (sorry, but installing SQL is overkill for users like myself).

Daniel Bryars – How are you feeling right now? That’s the questions all playlists should ask, and don’t. Song ratings should be based on emotion, not stars. Milton’s got a good idea here, but the Windows Media Player team will promptly ignore it. Suggestion: make it a WMP plugin.

Neil Bamber – Watch out, we’ve got another relationship tracking system on our hands! The only way you’re going to get my attention with these types of tools is by completely automating the “friendship management” process (which is never likely to happen). I don’t even use Outlook Journal, and I live in Outlook. Suggestion: look at all the Web-based social networks out there and then do something really different.

There you go – my gut reactions. A few gems, a few gomers. I’d really like to see Mark, Jonas, Ali, and Daniel continue their work (seriously, they MUST keep me posted). Next time, Microsoft should select six male developers and six female developers as finalists – unless fewer than six female developers stepped forward in the first place?