Mike Swanson

August, 2004

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    Available on MSDN: Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1 Refresh with Visual Studio 2005 Team System


    As expected, MSDN subscribers (sorry…not sure which subscriber levels) can now download the Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1 Refresh from the MSDN Subscriber Downloads site. The Refresh is the same as the previous beta release, but it also includes a Community Technology Preview (CTP) of Visual Studio 2005 Team System. The DVD ISO weighs in at 3.39GB.

    Update: Rob Caron's blog entry provides more details about what to download in addition to the VS.NET 2005 ISO.

    Update #2: Darren Jefford's blog entry provides some useful installation details.

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    Announcement: Windows "Longhorn" Client in 2006 and Avalon and Indigo on XP and 2003


    We announced today that we’re targeting Windows “Longhorn” client for broad release in 2006. Perhaps even more exciting is that key WinFX technologies, specifically Avalon and Indigo, will be made available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. The last announcement is that WinFS will be delivered after Longhorn is released. All of this is in direct response to feedback indicating that customers want earlier access to these important technologies and across a wider set of operating systems. Personally, I think this is great news for everyone.

    Update: Channel 9 has a short 3-minute video with Jim Allchin, Vice President of Platforms, explaining the announcement.

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1 Refresh with Team System


    According to Rick LaPlante’s blog entry, we’ve started the release process for the next Community Technology Preview of Visual Studio 2005. It is based on the Beta 1 bits, and the exciting news is that it includes the Team Foundation server for the Visual Studio 2005 Team System. The download is supposed to be available on MSDN sometime this week, and if you’re attending VSLive! in Orlando, you’ll be able to pick up a DVD there.

    I use Visual Studio 2005 for all of my development activities, and I shudder when I have to open up 2003. The productivity gains I get with 2005 are just too significant to ignore, and Team System makes the experience even better. I’d strongly encourage serious developers to get a head start and download this release when it become available.

    Update: Rick blogs that the bits should be available sometime tonight (8/31/2004).

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    Interviewing at Microsoft


    I am frequently asked about the interview process at Microsoft, and although I’m usually more than happy to relate my individual story and provide some general tips, I can’t provide nearly the insight that two of our recruiters, Gretchen Ledgard, and Zoë Goldring (both responsible for the JobsBlog) provide in this 20 minute Channel 9 video. You’ll hear them talk about dress code, pre-interview tips, the actual interview day, logic questions, coding questions, what we’re looking for in people, whether or not you need a degree, etc. This is the first of at least two video segments to be published, so expect a second part sometime soon. On a related note, Chris Sells maintains a page about Interviewing at Microsoft that is worth reading. And for those who haven’t heard my Microsoft interview story, read on…

    I always thought that I would either work for myself or for Microsoft. After being an independent consultant for many years, creating the industry’s first uninstall application, the first nationwide movie showtime web site, working at Donnelly Corporation for exactly a year (to the minute), and lots of other mildly interesting things, I decided that it was time to send in a resume. I knew that Microsoft received thousands of resumes each day (according to Gretchen, we now receive around 6,000 per day), so I knew that I had to do something that would show my passion for the company, my “out of the box” thinking, and grab their attention.

    You know those life sized celebrity cardboard cutouts that adorn the occasional geek office? I decided to build a cardboard cutout of me and send it along with my resume as the “model Microsoft employee.” To figure out how large it could be, I visited the FedEx office and asked for the maximum dimensions for something shipped next-day air. Although I don’t recall the exact numbers, it was something like 170 inches for combined length and girth. Not only did I want it to be as close to actual size as possible, but I wanted it to make a splash when it was delivered to the HR department in Redmond. After all, how many next-day air packages have you received that were much bigger than a standard letter?

    So, I had some professional photographs taken of me holding a mouse and keyboard and had it professionally printed and mounted on foam core. Using a cardboard celebrity cutout that I purchased as a template, I proceeded to remove the extra foam core and create the folding flaps that would allow it to stand on its own. Then, I created an advertising slick sheet that would accompany my package that explained the model Microsoft employee and how I was obviously a perfect fit.

    Of course, I still spent a lot of time polishing my resume, and it served as the “meat” of my job application. The cardboard cutout was simply a way to get noticed among the thousands of resumes that are received by the company each day. After sandwiching everything between two sides of a cardboard refrigerator box and carefully taping around the edges, I managed to squeeze it in my car and take it down to the local FedEx office. The FedEx employee that helped me was fascinated by the story behind the contents of my package and proceeded to measure the length and girth with a small chain he kept behind the counter. Boy, was it close. I had neglected to consider the thickness that all of that foam core and cardboard would add to the measurement, and I barely squeezed by. Whew!

    About two weeks of stomach churning passed before I finally received a letter from Microsoft in my mailbox. It was a personal note from the Vice President of Human Resources, and he was writing to say that in all of his years at Microsoft, he had never seen a resume quite like mine. He was impressed that I was able to make my job application stand out (no pun intended), and apparently, it was the talk of the whole department (he had it standing outside of his office). He went on to say that my resume would be added to the database and considered for all open positions (I hadn’t applied for a specific job code). He wished me the best of luck and hoped to see me as a future employee.

    I never heard anything else from Microsoft about that resume, and it didn’t end up getting me a job (surprise, surprise). However, I was proud of the fact that I had tried, and I cherished the letter that I received as a response. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find that letter, or I’d post a copy of it right here. If I do manage to dig it up, I’ll be sure to update this post.

    So, there must be another interview story, right? I mean, I do work for Microsoft, so there has to be more! Of course there is, but it’s not quite as interesting as this one, and it has a much better outcome. The funny thing is, a lot of people have confused this story with the fact that I work for the company, so I often hear that “you’re the guy who sent the cardboard cutout to get the job, right?” That’s when I smile and proceed to tell my story.

    Update: I was able to find the photo I used to produce the cutout...I look pretty silly. I haven't found the letter yet, but I think I know where it is.

    Update #2: I found the letter! I'll scan it and add it to this post later tonight.

    Update #3: I've added the scanned letter below.

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    MSDN TV: Interview with Steve McConnell


    Steve McConnell, of Construx, is responsible for one of my (and many others) top 10 developer books, Code Complete, Second Edition. MSDN TV interviews Steve in this half-hour episode and talks about “updates in the recently published second version, software process, agile development, and more.”

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