June 29, 2005
I did an IE 7 in Longhorn (the next version of Windows) and RSS demo today to the entire Windows Client division. There were a few hundred people in the room plus we were webcasting to people in their offices, so potentially thousands.
I had no problems with the machines in the days leading up to the demo, and the demo was running well in rehearsal. Everything looked great.
Showtime. It's my turn. I get introduced. I hop up on stage and look at the monitor and see the machine is hung. Dead. I can't get any response. I start tap dancing with jokes (e.g. "If it were perfect, we'd be shipping it." or "Web browsing is the most common activity for PC users, except me, apparently.")while I feverishly think about what to do and say. My face, meanwhile, is up on two huge screens behind me and streaming out over the our corporate network. I'm sure I had a look of sheer panic on my face. (I'm afraid to look at the recordings.)
I finally decide I need to hard reboot the box. Chris Jones, our VP and an old friend who is on stage with me, suggests that someone else go while my machine gets reset. I return to my seat, grab my laptop, and consider remoting into the machine to get the demo reset.
Now I have a conundrum. I had used Remote Desktop Connection (sometimes referred to by its old name, Terminal Server) to reset the machine after the rehearsals, but I hadn't done this in my office. Was TS causing the problem? I opted to give it a try. I logged in, reset the demo, and prayed. Everything looked OK.
My turn again. I went up, logged into the machine, unsure of what I'd see, talking and joking all the while to keep the thousands of people from suffering from dead air.
Thank, God. The machine was working. My heart started beating again. I looked down at my notes and saw the "Smile" and "SLOW" reminders I had scribbled all over my crib sheet to remind myself to do those things. I proceeded with my demo and managed to get through it without much more drama.
I'm told I did OK recovering from my machine meltdown. These problems are common when showing off pre-release code (hell, it happens with release code too), but knowing that didn't make me feel any better as I looked out on the audience over my dead machine.
Ah, the joys of live performance. A lot of good wine eased the pain afterwards.
June 19, 2005
Last weekend, I raced in the San Juan 24 Nationals out at Shilshole here in Seattle. I was on my friend Adrienne's boat T-Bone (appropriately named as we'll see later.)
This was my first time aboard a San Juan 24, and it's been a while since I've raced, but it all came back to me over the three days of racing. We had very different conditions on each day. Friday was light-moderate with a very short shower. Saturday was big -- 15-20 kts winds with an opposing tide generating steep chop on top of driving rain at times (very fun though). Sunday was sunny, warm, and still with our only race getting shortened (the other race was cancelled.)
We did, in fact, get t-boned on the second day during a tight mark rounding. It all happened very fast with us sandwiched between two boats when one the outside boat decided to tack in front of us. We had to crash tack immediately to avoid a bad collision, but in doing so, we tacked right into the inside boat. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the damage was minimal.
It was incredibly fun, and the Corinthian Yacht Club guys put on a nice race. We didn't do especially well, placing 13th out of 14 boats, but we learned a lot and had a great time.
I'm all boat-y now and eager to get another boat (we've owned a few boats previously, but are now between boats.) I think a J/30 might be nice...
We often call Andrew (7), "Drew". It occured to me we could call Michael (4), "Kull". Somehow, it fits.
It's good to be a dad.
Michael (4) and Andrew (7) had prepared nice gifts in class. Michael gave me a clay duck he made in class; the beak had fallen off, but I think it's lovely (it's kind of tough looking now, like Michael.) Perhaps cooler was the card he wrote; his writing has improved dramatically and has progressed beyond his name. The Star Wars lightsaber scene he drew was a nice, traditional touch.
Andrew made me a notepad in class; the title was "Obi-Dad", which I love, even though Obi-Wan was really a bit of a screw-up.
June 9, 2005
It's been four days, and I'm still jet lagged beyond belief. I'm clearly getting old.
Maybe some more Scotch will help me go to sleep. I picked up a very nice bottle of Ballantines 17 year-old in the Bejing duty-free (I love buying whiskey in duty free because there's such a great variety and because I hate paying Washington's liquor tax.)
I even brought Jim Murray's Whiskey Bible in my carry-on so I could figure out which to buy. The book (and subsequent tastings) have convinced me to drop my snobbery around blends vs. single malts. Both can be great. No reason to be a bigot.
Back to my yummy Ballantines (rated 96/100 in the book).
June 5, 2005
...I'd be dead today.
I just got back from a week in China, visiting our colleagues located in Beijing. This was the first visit I've made in the summer. Damn warm (90F+).
I left Beijing on June 4, the 16th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. It struck me how much China has changed since then in some ways and not enough in others.
Certainly, there are few markets that are more vibrant or that really express capitalism to the same degree that China has adopted, and people are more free to pursue their choices than ever. In those ways, I'm very excited and optimistic about the future of China and the Chinese people.
On the other hand, there has been a renewed control over the media and continues to be limitation of public discourse. While I recognize there may be a desire to slowly evolve (vs. the explosive decompression seen in the former Soviet Union), there is a growing dichotomy between what people hear in the news vs. what the know to be true via their greater access to foreigners and foreign information sources. This can only increase tension and discontent in the current government. I only hope the situation resolves itself peacefully and soon.
Anyway, the food was great, and it's always inspiring to me to meet with my friends in China; they're incredibly talented and driven. They do great work for us and will do even more over time.