January, 2006

  • Cloudy in Seattle

    First Month at Microsoft


    It's hard to believe that a month has already passed since I joined Microsoft.  I still feel like I have a lot of ramping up to do on the job and on Microsoft and I still haven't moved out of my corporate housing into my house. (although I'm dealing with that this weekend).

    It's official though!  I love my job.

    So what is it exactly that makes me feel that way? 

    1. The culture of accountability.  Microsoft has a culture where they give you a lot responsibility and ownership and give you whatever resources you need to succeed.  You are then held accountable for your results and rewarded accordingly.  No big brother, no veto power, no micromanagement...  Trust + ownership + remove barriers + accountability = motivated employees.
    2. The people.  Yes, Microsoft has a large number of industry luminaries (Don Box, Chris Sells, Anders Hejlsberg, Chris Anderson etc) and being in a company with that kind of intellectual horsepower is truly humbling -- what I think is even more amazing is that if you look down every aisle in every building, you're going to find some kind of "guru", probably more than one.  It's just an amazing feeling to work day in and day out with a group of dedicated people who are incredibly bright, knowlegeable and passionate.  It's like being at the PDC every freakin' day!
    3. The resources.  Discussion groups, a library where you get books delivered to you and research done for you, the IT infrastructure, the technologies, the access to software, the awesome cafeteria food (whoops how did that get in there?), the perks, the Pro Club gym membership, the benefits, the brown bags, the training...
    4. The product.  Working on the Cider designer is just an amazing project to be on.  I get to learn WPF/Avalon, I get to learn designers, I get to interact with customers who are developers... 

    In a sentence: I feel good about what I get to work on and I enjoy working with my colleagues.

    Ok, enough gushing.  Here are my 1 month anniversary thoughts:

    • I think it's rained every day since I've moved here.  I'm not joking.  We're breaking records for rain.
    • The traffic moves much slower than in San Diego.
    • I love all the wine bars around, notably the Purple in Kirkland.
    • I've never gotten so much and such quality feedback on a spec before, during and after a review. 
    • I don't think I can go anywhere in the Puget Sound without bumping into other people that work for Microsoft.  You've heard of the Six Degress of Kevin Bacon right?  Well, in the Puget Sound, it's gotta be the Three Degrees of a Microsoft Employee.
    • Microsoft cares a great deal about the customer.  There is a greater emphasis on the customer than you might imagine.
    • Microsoft employees are an incredibly dedicated group.  You can come in any day, any time and there will be people working, not because they have to but because they want to.
    • The lights aren't sensor based.  Late at night when the lights go out, dancing in your office isn't going to bring them back on.  You have to know about "the switch".
    • The performance evaluation review procedures and yearly commitments are taken very seriously. 
    • I'm still drinking from the fire hose.
  • Cloudy in Seattle

    Battlestar Galactica


    I noticed Jessica Fosler and Raymond Chen mention the new season of Battlestar Galactica which just started.  I haven't watched the season premier (got it on tivo) but I like the show a lot even though some episodes of the second season were a bit tedious.  Not entirely sure I'm liking having Starbuck as a woman since I used to pretend I was Starbuck from the original series (when I was a kid, not last week).

    So why's it good? The show has a lot of mysteries, suspense, drama and action. 'nuff said.

  • Cloudy in Seattle

    Microsoft Office Communicator


    Happy New Year!  I'm looking forward to 2006 -- I'll have my relocation related distractions out of the way and will really be able to dig in to my new job at Microsoft.  I'm really excited about the Orcas release, the approach we are taking with planning that release, my project (Cider Extensibility), and the whole move to the Pacific Northwest (even though it is quite wet and gray).

    Today at an Orcas planning session, I was thinking about how much I enjoyed going to PDC, TechED, SDRs or other Microsoft events.  I used to have to pay money for that (i.e. have my company pay money for that) and now I get to go to meetings where that kind of information is shared as a part of my job!  Not only that, I get to work on this stuff.  Amazing.

    Anyhow, the subject of this post is about something a friend of mine pointed me to -- Microsoft Office Communicator.  At first glance it looks like MSN Messenger but it is so not that.  For one thing it provides private messaging.  Feature wise it's a full fledged work tool.  It integrates with Outlook and your telephones.

    Integration with Outlook includes synchronizing your availability, out of office messages, status (will display "In a meeting" when you have an appointment), and other information like phone number, title, and email address with Outlook.  For example, right-clicking on a contact and clicking "properties" will bring up that persons contact information from the Outlook directory.  Let me put that a different way, you will no long have to ask your coworkers "Hey, what's your IM username and which one do you use, Yahoo, Google, MSN, ICQ or AOL?".

    Integration with your telephones means that when I get a phone call to my office phone, if I'm signed in to Communicator, I get notified of the call via Communicator, no matter where I am physically in the world.  I can then forward the call on the fly to another phone or even to my PC. 

    I can initiate phone calls on my office phone from Communicator (it'll dial for me) to any of the phone numbers my contacts make available or even to his/her PC.  I can even use my location or status to trigger call forwarding.  How cool is that?

    And of course you can use it for instant messages, sharing, file sharing, conferences, video, live meeting or to ask for remote assistance.

    Call me, call me, come on, I want to see Communicator come up with a phone call notification so I can forward the call on the fly to my cell phone, even though I'm in my office...

    P.S. I'm sure I missed features, check out the product info here

  • Cloudy in Seattle

    What part of Cider do I work on?


    I am the PM for Cider Extensibility.  So, what is the Cider Extensibility story?

    Since Orcas will be our v1, the main focus for extensibility in that timeframe is enabling 3rd party control developers to control and customize the design time experience of their controls.  This includes customizing the way a control's properties are edited and the way a control is shown and interacted with on the design surface.

    Beyond Orcas we have some ideas about what extensibility may exist and this includes:

    1. Hosting the Cider designer.  i.e. Designing Cider such that other applications can use, control and customize it as a component within their application. 
    2. Using the designer architecture used to build Cider to build your own designer inside and outside of Visual Studio.  This could include your own Visio, your own XSD editor or even your own photo layout application that has a design time layout.

    Over the coming months, I will be blogging about these areas, stay tuned...

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