October, 2010

  • Steve Clayton

    How is your OOF?



    My pal Ewan Dalton wrote a post on the etymology of the OOF way back in 2004 on the Exchange blog. He explains that OOF was a command used in the days of Microsoft’s Xenix mail system, which set a user as ‘Out of Facility’ - i.e. Out of the Office.

    The OOF is  a very common tool of business and more often than not, you see a fairly common set of OOF’s Something like “I’m out til Wednesday and will reply when I’m back”. Some are more verbose, others less so but generally speaking the OOF is deleted as fast as a user sees it.

    I think the humble OOF deserves better though and about 8 years ago I was working with a Microsoftie by the name of Ian Ferrell. He has something of a thing for unusual OOF’s and I decided to take on the same approach - since then have always spent time crafting my OOF to make it fun, unusual, descriptive, and always with the aim of being memorable. After a while, people starting sending me email back to tell me they loved my OOF…they’d stop me in the coffee queue to say they thought my OOF was hilarious.

    It’s a small tool of the personal branding trade but a useful one. Give your next OOF some thought and liven up your recipients day. I’ll leave you one or two of my more memorable OOF’s in the hope they’re of some inspiration. Oh and my OOF is on right now so feel free to send email to stevecla AT microsoft.com to get the latest version.







  • Steve Clayton

    Is storyteller a job title? it is now


    [image courtesy of Hugh and Rackspace]

    My email signature changed recently to reflect the new job I have here at Microsoft – for a while I didn’t really know what to call myself. An evangelist didn’t seem right (I don’t have a TV show or cloak), a futurologist seemed a bit lofty, and a Director of blah blah seemed a bit Microsoft. So I plumped for Storyteller. I’m not sure it’s the right fit but it’s the best I could come up with.

    Basically my gig is what got me started in earnest with this blog a few years back – telling the untold stories of Microsoft and hopefully helping people get to know us a little more. It sounds ridiculous as most people already know of Microsoft (even if by osmosis) but when you get big, the angles from which you’re seen sometimes hide the truly interesting stuff.

    Apart from being inspired to write this post by Hugh’s cartoon, I was mainly inspired by Steve Rubel’s post titled  The Rise of the Corporate Transmedia Storyteller. He notes


    The reality is, however, that organizations need to do more than just unleash their subject matter experts en masse. They need to activate them in multiple channels at once and equip them in how to create a compelling narrative – an emerging set of skills called Transmedia Storytelling


    I don’t know if I’m a subject matter expert but after almost 13 years at Microsoft I have a decent understanding of the company and have prided myself on trying to understand as much of the company as I can – not just one product or division. Hopefully I can do a little of this transmedia storytelling which is partly what I’ve been doing on this blog for several years but it’s now my day job. I have the tools, a new website coming along soon and plenty of support from folks across the company so far (early days yet…that could easily change Smile).


    In a weird sort of coincidence, I’ve stumbled across this notion of storytelling several times in the last week or so….Futurist Nick Bilton Sees Media’s Destiny: Storytelling was the title of an interview Wired conducted with the NY Times journalist. Meantime, TBWA has launched Projeqt – they call it a “creative storytelling platform” and while it’s only available to their employees for the moment, you can register for the beta. Some of the current Projeqts look pretty cool.



    This storytelling this is clearly a developing meme though as a technique, it’s as old as time. As a kid I grew up around a ton of great storytellers in my hometown of Liverpool. As we sat around at family parties, the person who always got the focus was the great uncle or aunt who was sat in the corner, nursing a whisky and telling a fine yarn about the old days of Liverpool and how the dockers umbrella


    image credit [Trevor Owens]

    I digress…I suppose I really just wanted to tell you the beginning of my next story. A new job, a new country, a new home, new friends and exciting times ahead.

    The start of my Next chapter

  • Steve Clayton

    Windows Phone 7 PDC app



    We’re a little over 24 hours away from PDC10 here in Redmond and the planes have been delivering the good and the great of the tech world in to town. You’ll be able to watch the PDC live online and it was no surprise to see that the team has added a Windows Phone 7 application in to the Marketplace.

    The app shows schedule info and will have video content from PDC10. Love it.

    [update] found the way to directly link to the app in the Zune Marketplace

  • Steve Clayton

    Cats in the house

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    Can’t. Wait. To. Get. This. Game.

    This week…

  • Steve Clayton

    Small Fry


    Photo caption for Windows Phone 7 Launch
Stephen Fry quote. " I want biodiversity, the more players there are the more it drives creativity and innovation, the more thrilling the space becomes. Will I be using my Windows Phone 7? Yes."

"I am genuinely thrilled. I never thought this day would come to stand on this stage and praise Microsoft for doing somthing they can be pround of"
"I have felt enormous pleasure using this phone"
"You have to be stonely hearted to not welcome a new player"
"I am genuinely thriled

“Stephen Fry gives the thumbs up to Windows Phone 7, Microsoft’s new mobile phone operating system.  A series of new handsets, powered by Windows Phone 7 will be on sale in the UK from 21 October. “


Call 3 Monkeys Communications on 020 7009 3100

Angie Moxham on 07889 209 950

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Angie Moxham
Chief Monkey
cid:3366958124_106447    cid:3366958124_82721

    Late last year, my pal Mel Carson dropped me a line and asked if I fancied showing Stephen Fry some of our technology. Naturally I leapt at the chance and a month or so later, Mel and I spent a thoroughly enjoyable 90 minutes with Stephen and I toured him through Worldwide Telescope, Seadragon, Pivot, Bing Maps, Windows Live Photo Gallery, my Vaio X running Windows 7 and an Asus tablet PC. I knew of Stephen’s fondness for all things Apple and was pleased to hear him talk about a need for biodiversity in the technology ecosystem – essentially saying competition was great for everyone as it meant greater innovation.

    As we sipped the of our tea and biscuits, Stephen admitted to being disappointed in having to leave for a lunch engagement and as he walked out of the door he turned to Mel and uttered a sentence I’ll not forget in a while. It was a fun 90 minutes in the company of Lord Melchett and Mel and I sat back afterwards and wondered if it has all just happened. We’d spent a good while with a thoroughly decent, funny and tech loving chap and been delighted in his response.

    Fast forward several months and another friend James Tutt picked up the baton and asked Stephen if he’s like to join us for the Windows Phone 7 launch. What followed was covered admirably last week by folks like Rory Cellan Jones, Charles Arthur and Jemima Kiss and Stephen cracked a few memorable one liners. Hats off to James for pursuing a somewhat risky strategy and to Mel for getting Stephen in to our offices in the first place. Definitely one of my more memorable days at Microsoft.

    What I enjoyed most about this whole episode Stephen’s approach – his ears, literally and figuratively, are bigger than his mouth. He’s clearly a technology enthusiast and contrary my own impression that he’d be bloody hard to shift from a world of Apple he was remarkably open, charming, fun and intrigued with everything we had to say. He displayed no bias, no need for an angle or an axe to grind. Just honest-to-goodness enthusiasm for tech and an ability to make it of interest to the average person.

    I have much to learn.

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