Have you ever read Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine? I had the chance to read it for a freshman year college course. I found it to be one of the most compelling books I'd read in my life. It details the journey of Data General engineers devoting their heart, blood, and soul into a ship cycle. They start with a simple idea, drive that process through completion to finish with a working mini-supercomputer. I was enamore'd as a young geek about the idea of surviving for an entire ship cycle for a product. In fact, I couldn't wait to go through the process myself. When I signed up to work at Microsoft, I was looking forward to proceeding through the same Rite of Passage as I had read about happening at Data General.

As of Wednesday, June 23, I will have completed my second complete ship cycle at Microsoft. It's a strange feeling. For the first time in about three months, I don't have an approaching deadline. I can sleep in,  explore the Northwest wilderness, catch up on friendships, or do nothing at all. I can seperate myself from email and a telephone whenever I choose. It's a strange gift- like awakening from a deep hibernation, and enjoying a beautiful summer that's been occuring outside my window.

And, for my efforts, I'll be able to see Encarta Reference Library 2005 on the store shelves for the back-to-school season. This industry, this company, and this product, are a labor of love. It's what's driven me to work late, and give up weekends, to ensure that our product blows expectations through the roof. It's not much different than a musician pouring their soul a CD, or an artist expressing themselves on a painting. Our lifeblood goes into these products to make them great. I love making software used by millions of people, and RTM (Release-To-Manufacturing) is my stadium rock concert; my life's art gallery. 

Now that this is acheived, I'm going on vacation. :-) See you all after July 10th!