BBQ Fantasy Camp

Categories: Food and Drink

Last weekend, my friend Sean Alexander hosted a "BBQ Fantasy Camp" at his home. He invited Grand Champion Pitmaster Konrad Haskins to teach this private class to a small group of us. Konrad is an interesting character, a South African who grew up in London, worked at Microsoft, and then went on to compete (and win) in BBQ contests. He has no shortage of opinions and stories on all topics (typically well-informed and entertaining), which he generously shared throughout our 9am-5pm meat-fest.

I was pleasantly surprised by how practical Konrad was about his BBQ. For instance, rather than smoke the pork shoulder whole for 12-13 hours, he butterflied it and then wrapped it in foil for a few hours after the initial smoking, shortening the cooking time significantly. (He finished it uncovered.) The results were spectacular.

It was also interesting to learn about how competition BBQ differed from home BBQ. He admitted he didn't really like eating competition BBQ. In competitions you only have one or two bites to show off to a judge, so you over-flavor everything to maximize the impact. However, if you did this for something you ate a whole meal of, it would be overpowering. They also use a lot of seemingly weird methods like cooking in fake butter instead of real butter, since the fake butters are engineered to taste more buttery than real butter. Gross.

Over the course of the day, Konrad cooked up a fattie (basically a whole Jimmy Dean sausage rolled in dry rub, smoked, and sliced onto biscuits -- yum!), brisket, pork shoulder, ribs, chicken, tri-tip, and burnt ends (plus biscuits and mushrooms). I never thought I could have too much meat, but I did. It was a good problem to have.

I really enjoyed the day and learned a lot. It certainly didn't hurt that the weather was gorgeous, the company entertaining, and the wine and beer plentiful and tasty. I'm ready to do more grilling and barbequing now. Thanks to Sean (and his awesome wife and my old friend Nickie) for hosting and to Konrad for the great lessons.


Here's Konrad showing us how to prep a full brisket; he separated the point from the flat, trimmed most of the fat away, and cooked them separately.
Konrad Haskins trimming a beef brisket

Part of the brisket being finished in a dutch oven with red wine and mirapoix - basically a BBQ Beef Bourguignon. Crazy good and falling apart tender.
Dutch oven with charcoal on top, sitting on a low Weber grill.

Here's another part of the brisket, this one smoked for a few hours, wrapped for a few hours, and finished on the grill for an hour. Look at the smoke ring!
Close-up of sliced brisket with a lovely red smoke ring.

Konrad had a good tip for getting more ribs onto a grill -- roll them up. The rolls are held together with a bamboo skewer running through them.
Three racks of pork ribs rolled and cooked like standing roasts in a Big Green Egg.

Posted August 6, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bing for iPad in Music Videos!

The Bing for iPad app that my team built makes a cameo in a two music videos!

There’s a long-ish “demo” in Estelle’s Break My Heart, around the 2:06 mark. (The link is queued to the right spot.)


The other is in Cobra Starship’s You Make Me Feel, around the 1:58 mark.


Pretty cool!

Posted July 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

DNG Codec for Windows 7

On my digital SLRs, I've been shooting RAW files for quite some time now in order to get the most out of my images. However, I've had some concerns about being able to read these files later, so I've started converting all of my RAW files to Adobe's digital negative format DNG. I figure with Adobe backing it, it's more likely to be supported in the future vs. some random old Canon file format.

However, one my frustrations is that there hasn't been a free, Adobe codec for DNG for Windows 7 (especially 64-bit); this prevents me from seeing thumbnails in Explorer or from seeing the images in apps like the nice Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Well, my wait is over! Adobe Labs has a release candidate codec available now for 32 and 64-bit Windows 7 (Vista is not supported). It seems to run fine, albeit a little slow. (No word on their site about when they'll have their final release.)

You can get it here.

Posted July 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Congrats, Andrew!

Categories: Kids

Andrew (13) graduated from eighth grade today. It's hard to believe he'll be starting high school in the fall. It seems trite to say it, but they really do grow up too fast.


Let summer vacation begin!

Posted June 17, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bing on Xbox!

Last week at the gaming industry's E3 Expo, Microsoft announced a bunch of cool stuff coming up for the Xbox including one of the projects I've been working on -- Bing on Xbox!

You'll be able to simply say a movie or TV show you want to watch, a song you want to hear, or a game you want to play, and Bing for Xbox will find it for you across different content providers like Hulu, Netflix, and Zune, bringing you all the results in one place; today you'd have to search each of the apps separately. (Of course, if you don't have a Kinect, you can type it out.) So, you just say "Xbox, Bing Batman" to find games, movies, TV shows, and music related to Batman.

Here's a sample of what the search results page might look like if you said, "Xbox, Bing X-Men".


Here's the video of Xbox Live VP Marc Whitten describing the functionality. I love all of the Bing logos everywhere!

If you have an Xbox at home today and log into Xbox Live, you may see an ad describing this upcoming service too. I was pleasantly surprised to see this.

Bingbox ad1

If you select the panel, you get a little more info:

bingbox ad2

You can then click to see a video of the the feature in action. (I'll see if I can find and post a copy of that video).

I'm proud of the work we've done to get this far and looking forward to getting it out. It was exciting to do the announcement and finally be able to talk about our work a little more publicly!

Posted June 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Fly a Warbird!

Categories: Random cool stuff

TP-51C Mustang

Like I mentioned recently, I've always been a big fan of World War II aircraft. Over the next few weekends in the Seattle area, warbird fans will have an amazing opportunity to fly in a B-17 Flying Fortress or B-24 Liberator bomber. The Collings Foundation is conducting their Wings of Freedom Tour and is selling seats on these iconic bombers.

Even cooler, you can go up in a P-51 Mustang fighter!! The latter is amazing since most fighters from that era were single seat, so rides are impossible; however, the Collings Foundation has a trainer version of a P-51C that has two seats.

Perhaps even cooler still is the WWII Crew Fantasy Camp that the Foundation runs. This is a two day training program where you train for and fly a simulated bomber mission on a real B-24. You get to suit up, help load ordinance, shoot live and blank .50 cal rounds from the aircraft's guns, and drop 250lb dummy bombs! They also planned to have a P-51 Mustang and German Me-262 jet fighter in the air too! (You can sign up to fly in the P-51 or Me-262 instead). Crazy awesome. They ran the camp in May. Hopefully they do it again sometime because I'd love to try it.

Anyway, despite the fact another classic B-17 burned this week after an emergency landing, I hope to be able to go up this weekend, maybe with Andrew (13).

Posted June 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Michelle and I took the boys to Tankfest at the Flying Heritage Collection museum in Everett today. The FHC is a collection of World War II aircraft collected by Paul Allen (who has way more fun with his money than BillG does, IMHO). I love these old warbirds, and the fact that many of them are flyable is even more exciting.

Anyway, to celebrate Memorial Day, they were hosting Tankfest where local collectors brought their armor and other weapons in. They had three tanks - A Russian T-34/85, a German Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer, and a more modern British FV101 Scorpion - plus big artillery (including a few German 88s) and jeeps, half-tracks, and other cool WWII era stuff. They were driving the vehicles around and did a little shooting (blanks, of course) as well.

The Jagdpanzer and T-34
A camo German Jagdpanzer and a white Russian T-34

.30 cal machine gun on a half-track
.30 caliber machine gun with US flag behind

Taking aim on a 20mm anti-aircraft gun
Looking through the gunsight of a 20mm AA gun

Andrew (13) manhandling a bazooka
Andrew (13) holding a bazooka that is too heavy for him

WWII era radio set in the back of a Jeep
Close-up view of a WWII radio set


As I mentioned I love old warbirds, so it was exciting to see the planes too.

P-40 Tomahawk in Flying Tigers livery
Nose of a P-40 Tomahawk with the Flying Tigers shark face

Warning by the cockpit of a Hawker Hurricane
Warning on a Hawker Hurricane asking "Is your oxygen cylinder turned on"


I'm looking forward to going back on their flight days to see some of the planes in the air. They have "Mustang Day" coming on up June 4 and especially exciting is the debut of their FW-190 on June 18. This is the only flying FW-190 with the original engine left in the world. You can find their Free Fly Days schedule here.

Posted May 31, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

My First Wikipedia Edits!

Categories: Random junk

I've been a huge fan of Wikipedia for a long time, but like many people, I never made any contributions. However, I finally jumped over the line today and made my first changes. I saw the news that Mascalzone Latino, the Challenger of Record for the next America's Cup, withdrew from the competition. This change wasn't reflected in the articles for Mascalzone Latino, Club Nautico di Roma, 2013 Americas Cup, and America's Cup, so I made the edits.

These were pretty minor, but I am happy to have made a small contribution to this site that I love so much. I hope to make more contributions in the future.

Posted May 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Waiting for the iPad2 in China

Categories: China Photos

This week I’m back in Beijing for the first time since we moved back to the US. It just so happens that I walked past the Apple Store in the posh Sanlitun Village shopping mall last night, the night of the iPad2 availability in China. There was a huge line at least 100+ people deep sitting outside the store. Inside, there were big curtains up so people couldn’t see into the store. Here’s the end of the line. The big white circle of light at the top is actually the Apple logo. The line extends under that sign and around the corner to the left.

ipad2 launch

Posted May 5, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Bing for iPad is #1!!

Yesterday, my new team released Microsoft’s first major app for iPad – Bing for iPad. The response has been better than anything I can remember. Overnight, the app is already the #1 free app for iPad and the reviews have been insanely great. You can see my colleagues Zach (the dude who really lead our effort) and Stefan (our killer PR guy) demoing the product in this video.

I wish I could take credit for how great this app is, but it was already almost done when I joined the group. It’s perhaps a good reminder that often, the best thing a manager can do is stay out of the way…

Go get it now!

Our #1 spot in the Apple App Store:
Bing for iPad in the #1 slot for Top Free iPad Apps

Some reviews:
Title: “Bing for iPad Rocks”
Best quote: “Bing for iPad is so delish I could lick the screen.”
Title:”Bing’s Beautiful iPad app blows Google’s out of the water”
Best quote: “We can quickly see this app becoming a go-to portal for the web on your iPad”
Title:”Bing launches a killer iPad App”
Best quote:”The user experience is highly intuitive”
Title: “Bing’s flair for visual search comes to the iPad”
Best quote:” The app amplifies Bing’s strengths, namely its visual and design aspects”
Title: ”Microsoft releases bing search app tailored specifically to the iPad”
Best quote:”brings an arsenal of goodies”
Title: “Bing for iPad arrives – Win for Microsoft”
Best quote: “The app’s trends page is most impressive”

Posted April 8, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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