image_6 Developer

OK, it’s formally called the Live Search Maps gadget, but that’s a mouthful so most people simply call it the "traffic gadget". The traffic gadget was taken off the market for a few months for "security reasons" (not unlike like the Tylenol scare back in the 80’s). In any case, it’s back!

Microsoft came to my company and asked us to develop a Windows Vista Sidebar gadget to display local area traffic. It was very popular with people living in one of the supported areas. Then (as previously reported by Kip) a problem was uncovered that had to do with the way that the Virtual Earth API JavaScript was loaded into the gadget. It was loaded over a non-secure (non-SSL) connection. This made it susceptible to MitM (Man-in-the-Middle) attacks. An evil person (such as a terrorist or a mime) could inject code that would run on your machine under the same rights as the local logged in user. The offender could then easily delete files, steal personal information etc. Even though the situation was highly unlikely, it needed to be addressed (which should show you how concerned Microsoft is with security).

The new gadget not only loads the VEAPI via an SSL connection, but manually loads the markets.js file and parses the heck our of it (using a regular expression) looking for malware or any other unscrupulous items.

What else has changed? Visually, I’ve updated the icons but that’s about it. Basically, the new version is a lot like Vista SP1: not much in the way of UX improvements, but a whole lot of improvements going on all "under the hood".

Although not specifically attributed to the new gadget, there have been more cities added since the gadget was introduced about a year ago. The new cities include: Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, San Antonio and Toronto. When more new cities are added, they will automatically appear in the gadget (i.e. no update required).

Will there be any features added down the road? I can’t say. Seriously, I’m under NDA and can’t say :). But if you have any suggestions, please let me know and I’ll pass them along to the powers that be.

In the mean time, please enjoy the new safe and secure traffic, um, Live Search Maps gadget! It can be download here now.