Family Health Guy

In which Sean talks about HealthVault and other cool ideas in Personal Health

Karl rocks!

Karl rocks!

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I often tell the story of how I ended up at Microsoft as an intern back in 1989. I wrote two letters from my college dorm room: one to Bill Gates and one to Steve Jobs. I never heard back from Steve, but a week later I got a call from Microsoft and within a couple of weeks I was flying out to Redmond for an interview, came back a couple of months after that to work on the database engine that became Microsoft Access, and counted the days back at school before I could come back full time.

It was a truly awesome experience. I did real work on real projects with real people. I wrote my first Windows apps, learned how to debug, and developed an addiction to code that has been one of the best parts of my life. The addiction to Diet Coke was a less lucrative, but equally permanent, side effect.

Suffice to say I have a deep love for the college internship program at Microsoft.

A few months ago I got a note from one of our recruiters about a college kid named Karl who was interested in healthcare technology and looking for a winter term internship. He’d already done one stint at the company and gotten high marks, so after a quick call we committed to bring him on.

Of course, we then kind of forgot about it until a couple of weeks before he showed up. ;) But when he did, he got busy pretty dang quick. One of the top HealthVault requests we’ve had for a long time has been to import measurements from spreadsheets. It was a nice, isolated but very real problem. The result? Check this out:

Honestly, I expected that maybe Karl would finish some limited, basic code that we could use as a starting point for the “real” feature. Nope. You can expect to see spreadsheet import show up very soon in an official HealthVault release. Well developed, integrated into our production site, and ready to go. The feature as written:

  • Works for a number of common tracking types,
  • Adapts to pretty much arbitrary column structures,
  • Manages unit conversion,
  • Presents a handy preview to help manage the import, and
  • Even passes our huge battery of security and geopolitical compliance tests.

Wicked stuff.

He also is a pretty crappy hallway golfer, which I value because it lowered the bar I have to hit to qualify as “acceptably mediocre” in our weekly tournament.

So is he coming back? You bet, if we have anything to do with it. Too cool. 

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  • He's the smartest young man I know.  He's also hardworking to the point of being driven.  Besides that, I really like him and enjoy being with him, even if often I cannot understand what he is talking about.  That's because I was born 40 years too soon for the computer/electronic age.  I did take a course in computer in 1954--a new subject where we hand wired boards, etc.  We did have a collator, however.  My, oh my, how times have changed, and how young people like Karl have adapted to it!  I'm so proud of him.

  • Brilliant! What a great way to inject fresh, smart, and innovative thinking into this most important work of consumer mediated exchange.  Cheers to Karl and I would not underestimate his crappy hallway golfing learning curve!!! He is going to have an amazing internship experience with you Sean.  

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