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What is Slam? Welcome Page

Slam is a Microsoft Research Community Technologies Group research project, developed in conjunction with the Microsoft Photo and Imaging eXperience (PIX) team.  It is a mobile device-based application that enables lightweight, group-centric real-time communication, location awareness and photo-sharing. 

The core concept behind Slam is a “Slam”, a group of people with whom you can exchange messages and photos. When you send a message in Slam, it is automatically sent to everyone in the group to which you sent it. For smartphone users that have the Slam client installed, their phone will buzz and they will have an indication on their phone’s home screen that there is a new message. For SMS users, they will receive the message as an SMS from the Slam server. Like smartphone users, SMS users can be members of multiple slam groups. SMS users will send / receive messages to a different phone number for each slam group they a member of.

The Slam application will run on any Windows Mobile SmartPhone.

Scenarios for Slam

  • Real-time Coordination: Out on a Friday night? No need to decide on a place and time to meet in advance, just send a message to your friends when you’re ready to go and see where everybody is. Some people may be at a restaurant, others on the move, but everybody can send messages and coordinate immediately. Imagine coordinating a ski trip this way, too.
  • Instant Group Photo Sharing: You are always seeing beautiful and interesting things, but it’s too hard to send pictures to people with your cameraphone.  Use Slam to take a picture and send it to a group of friends with only a few clicks. Try forming a “celebrity sightings” cameraphone group or share pictures with your family throughout your day.
  • Broadcast communication: Need a babysitter? Send a message to your “babysitters” group saying “Can someone come over for a few hours right now?” All your potential sitters get the message right when you send it, wherever they are.

The Slam smartphone client does not use SMS to send and receive messages, it uses HTTP to post messages to the server and to poll for new messages from the server. Because Slam uses the data pipe to send and receive messages, it is very important that all smartphone client users be on an unlimited data plan . We can not stress this strongly enough. Smartphone client users not on an unlimited data plan can expect bills up to $600 / month or more. SMS users will only have to pay for the SMS messages they send and receive per the plan they with their carrier. There are no special charges associated with Slam.

Slam users can also see where other people in their groups are on a map. The Slam client will periodically let the server know where it is, then, when someone in a group requests it, the server generates a map using MSN’s Virtual Earth with everybody’s location marked. Of course, this only works from slam smartphone clients, not SMS users. However, this feature does not require a GPS device, as it attempts to determine location based on the cellular towers your phone detects.

We understand that our users are as concerned as anyone with privacy, and letting people, even your friends and family know where you are automatically can be scary. That’s why we include several privacy features, including the ability to set who can see your location, when they can see it and even let you hide your location except when you’re in “public places”, areas where you specifically indicate it’s OK for others to know where you are. Please note, though, that location tracking is on by default in Slam, you must opt-out to disable it.

Application basics
Once installed, Slam will run as a background service all the time on your phone, periodically checking for new messages. If you do NOT want this background service to run, then from the Slam home screen choose
Menu->Options and clear the checkbox next to “Run on startup”.

To launch the application and get to its home screen, you can either launch it from your phone’s Start menu or click the entry “Slam (x)” on your phone’s home screen (where “x” indicates the number of unread Slam messages you have waiting for you). If there is not a “Slam (x)” entry on your phone’s home screen, you can add it by choosing Start->Settings->Home Screen and changing “Home Screen Layout” to “Slam”.

Home Screen
The application home screen displays:

  • Links to four slam groups: These appear as thumbnails of the most recent picture sent to the group in the top left of your screen. By default, the groups with the most recent activity will appear here, but you can also pin down which groups appear by choosingMenu->Pin Favorite Slam. To open a slam group, just click on its tile.
  • Link to All Slams: Of course, you can be a member of more than four slam groups. This link brings you to a list of all the slam groups you are a member of.
  • Link to Public Slams: Slam groups can either be Public, meaning you can search for groups of interest by keyword and join them, or Private, meaning you must receive an invitation to see the group and join it. This link allows you to search for public groups. Just select a group and click “Join” to join.
  • Unread Messages: This will display your most recent unread messages across all your slams. Clicking on a message will open the appropriate Slam with the selected message highlighted. A message is “unread” until is has been viewed in the slam conversation view.
    • Tip: You can view all your messages across all your slam groups in the order they were received by clicking on the “Unread Messages” title bar.
    • Tip: If you would prefer to show all your most recent messages, not just the unread ones, in this area, choose Menu->Options->Conversation
  • Events: Events is a trial feature, undocumented at this time.

Reading Slam Messages
To read your slam messages, simply open a slam group by clicking its tile on the home screen or clicking a message on the home screen. This will display all the messages in the slam group in the order they were received (reverse chronological).

If a message has a photo, you will see a small thumbnail next to it. To view the photo larger on your phone’s home screen, just click on the message. Of course, you can see it larger still by viewing it through Slam’s Web UI (www.msslam.com).

Creating a Slam group
To create a Slam group, go to the Slam home screen and click Menu->New Slam . After you have entered a name and description for your slam group, you choose who you would like to be in your Slam group. You can either choose users by entering their phone numbers / selecting their phone numbers from your phone’s address book, or, if you are already a member of other slam groups, you can choose members from existing slams.

A Slam group can be either Public, meaning it can be searched for and anyone who finds it can join it without an explicit invitation, or Private, meaning an invitation to join from an existing member is required.

Inviting someone to join an existing group
If you are a member of an existing Slam group, you can send anyone, whether or not they are an existing user of Slam, an invitation to join your group. Just click on the slam group’s tile on the Slam home screen (or choose it from the All Slams list available from the home screen) and click Menu->Invite user.

Joining a Slam group
To join a slam, you must either receive an invitation or join a public group.

To join a public group, navigate to the application's home screen, click "Public Slams", select the group you would like to join and click Join.

To join a private group, click on the invitation you received and then click "Accept".

If you are an SMS user, you will receive the invitation as an SMS. You must first reply with Join, then, if you are a new user to Slam, you will have to read and accept the EULA and Terms of Service and set a name for yourself. SMS users must agree to the legal terms within 72 hours or their account will be removed.

Sending a message
To send a message to group, simply click "New Message" while viewing the conversation associated with that group.

Sending a photo
To send a photo to a group, choose New Message then Take a Photo. Unfortunately, phones frequently have low memory and as a result, this operation may fail (e.g., "Capture canceled by user"). We are working hard to prevent this, but the only sure fire workaround we have found is to reboot your phone. We apologize for this inconvenience.

When sending a photo, your smartphone users will receive the photo in their client. SMS users will receive the text of the message with a short note indicating that there is a photo they can not see. To view the photo, SMS users must use the web site, www.msslam.com

International users
At this time, Slam only supports US and Canadian phone numbers (i.e., xxx-xxx-xxxx, no country code). We are working to expand this and make Slam available to International users shortly.

Location
To see a map showing the current location of the people in one of your Slam groups, open that group and click Menu->Location. To change who can see you when and where, select Menu->Location->Privacy Settings from the Slam home screen. Accuracy varies, but is generally within several hundred yards.

Location doesn’t work on all phones (these limits only apply to location, not to the rest of the features)

  • Only works on the Audiovox 5600 (Typhoon), i-Mate Sp3 and i-Mate SP5 (Tornado). You can try it on other Typhoon / Tornado devices and it may work, but it may not.
  • Only works for Cingular/AT&T and T-Mobile users
  • This only works in certain areas in the Puget Sound region (Redmond, Capitol Hill, Wallingford, University District). We will be expanding this area in the near future. If you’d like to help, e-mail slamcore@microsoft.com.

SMS Commands
SMS users have much of the Windows Mobile Slam client functionality available to them. In general, SMS users send commands via text message to the Slam server, with a protocol of .command "text", where "text" refers to some text that is relevant to the command (do not include the quotes in the text). Please refer to the following list of commands:
FunctionalityCommand
Create a new Slam group.create "name" to any Slam phone number
Invite someone to a group.invite "10-digit phone number"
Get a list of current groups.groups to any Slam phone number
Quit a Slam group.quit to group's phone number
Change your user name.name "new user name" to group's phone number
Turn off messages from a group.off to group's phone number
Turn on messages from a group.on to group's phone number
Get a list of Slam SMS commands.help to any Slam phone number


Uninstalling Slam
Although it would be a sad day for us, it's certainly possibly that you may want to remove yourself from Slam. You can remove yourselft from an individual Slam group by navigating to the conversation screen for the group and selecting 'Quit Group' from the 'Menu' menu. If you want to quit Slam entirely, you can do the following:

SMS users: send the message '.Quit' to one of your Slam phone numbers to quit that group or '.Quit Slam' to quit Slam entirely.

Windows Mobile users: Go to 'Remove Programs' (in different locations on different devices) and select Slam. Note that removing programs via this method tends to be a bit persnickety, so if that doesn't work, the more sure fire method is the following:
1. Go into the Slam application and select 'Exit' from 'Menu' on the application home screen
2. Remove the home/today screen plugin. PocketPC users need to uncheck the Slam option in their list of today screen plugins. Smartphone users need to change the home screen profile away from Slam and to something else (e.g., Windows Default). You can find these options under settings on your device.
3. Shutdown and restart your device.
4. Navigate to the Slam folder using File Explorer and delete the folder.

Account Info
For security purposes, users cannot register more than one phone number with Slam and access the same account content from the separate phones.  A user may sign up with Slam using a new phone number, but this new account will be treated as entirely new, just like a first time user.  Unfortunately, this means that users who have switched phone numbers will lose their existing Slam content and will have to re-join their groups.  However, this also ensures that a person cannot pretend to be someone else by registering as them with a new phone number.

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