A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft hosted a Technology Summit and invited many prominent members from a variety of different platforms (Linux, Java, Flash, etc.) to our campus in Redmond. They spent two-and-a-half packed days listening to presentations, learning about our products and tools, asking hard questions, and providing great feedback. The founder of Javalobby, Rick Ross, has recorded a summary of his insights and thoughts based on the summit. A downloadable PDF version is also available (free registration required).
Here are a couple of interesting quotes:
The VS.NET 2005 and Avalon demos simply show the power that this company wields. Their tools and the Windows platform as a whole are evolving rapidly to keep pace with developer and customer expectations. Again, I know I was not the only one thinking to myself, “Wow, those are some serious tools!” and wishing we could enjoy fully-compatible Java development plugins for the Visual Studio environment.The ASP.NET 2.0 examples were a case in point: the modular blocks of functionality you get with ASP.NET 2.0 had all the leading Java guys in the audience drooling. No Joke, they really did.
The VS.NET 2005 and Avalon demos simply show the power that this company wields. Their tools and the Windows platform as a whole are evolving rapidly to keep pace with developer and customer expectations. Again, I know I was not the only one thinking to myself, “Wow, those are some serious tools!” and wishing we could enjoy fully-compatible Java development plugins for the Visual Studio environment.
Of course, I chose those quotes, because it's great to hear nice things about your own company and its products. However, there's a lot more to learn from Rick's summary, and it's definitely worth a listen.
CNET News.com is featuring an interview with Dr. Edward Hallowell titled Why can't you pay attention anymore? I'll tell you what...the symptoms of attention deficit trait (ADT) that Dr. Hallowell describes can be found in a majority of Microsoft employees. We're constantly bombarded by Messenger alerts, Outlook reminders, cell phone calls, distribution list e-mails, and many other forms of electronic communication that compete for our attention. I'm not trying to imply that we're unique, but we are a group of overachievers who love to tie ourselves to gadgets. I've heard more than one person comment that "we attend meetings and reply to e-mail during the day and do the real work at night."
Fortunately (or unfortunately), I've been down that path in my past, and first-hand experience tells me that it's a recipe for eventual burnout. I've managed to find my own rhythm over the past ten years or so that has served me very well. I make a real effort to balance life with work. To that end, I put in between 40 and 45 hours at the office in an average work week. If something arises that demands more of my time, of course, I will accommodate it (for example, working long hours ahead of an important demo or product launch). However, I don't allow it to become the norm. Frankly, when I'm comfortable with the balance, I find myself doing "work" at home for fun. Imagine that.
A lot of people feel guilty for working "only" 40 to 45 hours a week. This is too bad. I can tell you that I'm much more productive, creative, and happy when I maintain my balance. On the two-year NxOpinion engagement that I've mentioned here in the past, we were careful not to push our developers too hard, and we kept to a fairly strict 40 (or so) hour work week. We were very productive, morale was high, and I think we only worked one weekend before a major milestone. Although we had a very good project framework and manager in place, I attribute a lot of our success to maintaining that balance.
It can be difficult to buck the trend at a large corporation like Microsoft, but you have to stick to your guns. Take care of yourself, and you will be much better able to take care of others. Don't fall into the "work hard" trap; instead, work smart and be twice as productive.
One of our designers has started a new blog that focuses on Avalon from a designer's perspective. I've seen some of the demos he's worked on internally, and they're very impressive. As someone who works so close to the technology, I'd expect some great content to be posted here in the future. He already has a good article on non-traditional button design that's worth a look. Great job, Nathan.
While I'm at it, I noticed that the Xamlon guys are hosting a XAMLBlogs.com site that aggregates other XAML-related content. Check it out.
It's hard to believe, but the .NET Show taped its 50th episode at Microsoft Studios yesterday afternoon, and I was fortunate enough to be a member of the live audience. I think I've seen just about every episode over the years; it's always been a fantastic way to keep on top of emerging technologies. So it was great to be a part of this special celebration.
Erica has definitely become more comfortable in front of the camera over the years, and it was great to see her nail her news segment with such confidence. Robert taped two interview segments on The Future of the Platform. In his first segment, he talked to Brad Abrams (who maintains a fantastic blog, by the way), Michael Wallent, Steve Millet, and John Shewchuk. After taking a short break, he returned to interview Rick Rashid, the Senior VP in charge of Microsoft Research. Unlike most episodes of the .NET Show, the technical content wasn't very deep, but it was interesting to hear everyone's perspective on where they think the platform is evolving.
In the firstname.lastname@example.org segment, Erica went all-out and interviewed none other than Bill Gates. She asked some fun questions, and I'm sure you'll enjoy watching it when the episode becomes available in three or four weeks.
Other than that, I spent time during the short breaks talking to Bill Hill, a fascinating individual who I'd seen before but never had the chance to talk to. He's doing some cool stuff around screen readability, typefaces, and ClearType (more here and here). I also chatted for awhile with Robert Scoble and Brad Abrams about everything from the way Microsoft produces software to blogging (of course) to search engines to transparency. All in all, it was a very satisfying afternoon.
Before I forget the most important part, congratulations to Robert and Erica on 50 episodes! Here's to many more!