Some readers may have noticed that blogs.msdn.com subtly changed this past weekend... ok, for those that did not realize it... yes, it did change this weekend. :-)

As with any upgrade, there are things that I like about it... and things that I do not like. And I also think that from the blogger's perspective, a lot of things changed; while from the end-user perspective, not a lot changed.

The Good...

For example, you now have an idea what category/tag is associated with every single blog entry, and you also have a count of number of entries per category. This is actually interesting... as you can randomly surf onto an interesting blog entry from someone, determine its relative "popularity", and immediately find related entries as well as RSS feed for them. And you can finally sign up for email update notifications/RSS feed for a given entry - some readers actually asked me for that feature in the blog... well, it's there now! :-)

Another nice thing I noticed is that searching the blog is a lot better... which is not hard since the old search was horrible. The index must have been months old as I could not do a direct keyword search against my own blog entries written less than 3 months ago. I just went and played with the new search and it seems better - at least it returned more results, though the ordering and relevance of entries still needs work. Oh, and there is finally a dedicated "About the blog author" link, so I can move my bio blogroll links there.

And, there is now a small amount of space for a photo gallery associated with the blog. I have not figured out what to do with that yet, but hey, it is something new to think about.

The Bad...

Now, the upgrade was not all positive. One feature I sorely miss is the ability to select the maximum number of list items to display, whether it is blog entries, comments/feedback, etc. It used to default to 10 or 20 and I could choose up to 50... which is very useful for me to scroll and manage my growing number of blog entries because I have a monitor dedicated to be in 1200x1600 portrait mode for long lists... but now I just get the silly default of 10 and a wacky slider bar which optimizes pages for a 1024x768 resolution and not utilizing available screen real-estate. Ugh. I hate applications that make up my mind for me, without asking for my input.

Then, there is the proliferation of running client-side ActiveX controls to do something; I haven't looked carefully at what, but IE regularly pops up a dialog box asking about it. I hate websites that require ActiveX controls, and this blog now seems to require it for administration. Over time, this will bug me enough to find a way to move on.

And for whatever reason, the spam-bots seem to have noticed this upgrade, and I am now getting a lot more spam in the form of random blog entry comments or email comments through the blog. This abuse is really hampering my open-blog policy because I believe in unlimited, anonymous, and uncensored comments as well as open-door policy for you to email communications to me... my goal is to be accessible. However, I now have to worry about unsavory individuals sending anonymous spam and attacks through this vector because if anything, I actually read random email generated by my blog because I am intentionally soliciting them. Sigh...

The Ugly...

And maybe it is just me, but the entire site seems a lot less reliable than before. All the time, I find situations where I make configuration changes which do not stick, or the configuration changes but display is still cached, or if I back/forward amongst pages I get some random combination of non-sticking settings, cached display, and/or old data. Argh! And I find the application unresponsive and then returning 503s or Application Unavailable way too often... which freaks me out because it has caused me to lose entire blog entries already. If I have to choose between features or reliability, I choose reliability... because humans are creative enough to work-around missing features... but not if the underlying platform is unstable. Hehe... this makes me want to troubleshoot the crash next time. :-)

//David