July 28, 2005
Yesterday was a big day. We shipped betas for both Vista (the next gen Windows formerly known as Longhorn) and IE7 on XP. These events were a long time coming, so the party felt pretty good. Robert Scoble, Microsoft evangelist and Chief Blogging Officer (my title for him, not his), covered the event in his blog. I even managed to wind up in a photo being geeky.
More information on the IE team blog.
July 26, 2005
I love the Space Shuttle and am glad to see NASA launching again. Like many loves, mine is a bit irrational. I know the Shuttle is a glorified truck built from 30 year old technology, but I still love it. I know it sucks money away from other programs that might advance science more quickly. I don't care.
This was the first time the boys really saw a Shuttle launch. They, of course, thought it was cool. We got to talk about how the shuttle works, what we learn in space, and how people get to become astronauts. It was a good conversation, one that got the boys thinking about science and hard work. The Shuttle program has already paid dividends to my kids.
Anyway, I'm glad to see the Shuttle back in space and wish the crew the best of luck. Godspeed, Discovery.
July 25, 2005
Yesterday, I mixed up a batch of ginger beer from a recipe in the New York Times. This non-alcoholic, non-carbonated brew is just ginger and a bay leaf steeped in hot water for a few hours and then cut with simple syrup. It's spicy, sweet, and oh-so-good.
Of course, as with many beverages, a splash of whisky makes it even better...
Update: Gin does not make the ginger beer better.
July 24, 2005
Mychal is a very smart guy with a good heart and a very dry sense of humor. Even in college, he was always thoughtful and sincere. He's done great things since school in his public service through the King County and local municipal courts. I'm confident he'll make a great judge (and not just because I want someone to write off my speeding tickets...)
Unfortunately, since I'm not a resident of Renton, I can't vote for him, but those of you who do live in Renton should seriously consider him. You can learn more about Mychal at his website, ElectMychal.com.
On a side note, it's kind of amazing to me that my former classmates are running for office and holding all kinds of important jobs. Guess I'm getting old. Maybe someday I'll have an important job too...
July 23, 2005
I think this write-up speculating about some of the mysteries in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is pretty good and convincing. Time will tell, I guess.
(Warning, the post has spoilers.)
July 17, 2005
The other night, I was reading to Michael (4). He knows his letters and can sound out words pretty well now, but he can be lazy about it. I pointed to a drawing of a rabbit in the book that had bunny spelled out next to it. I asked Michael to read the word.
Me: "No, Michael, sound it out. What's the first letter?"
Me: "Michael, what sound does b make?"
Me: "Good, now what's the word?"
Between the new Harry Potter book and Andrew's birthday party, I totally forgot that yesterday was the 15th anniversary of my start at Microsoft. It truly has been a great fifteen years; I've made a lot of friends, learned tons, and shipped some great software (and a few dogs.) I feel totally lucky to have stumbled into Microsoft senior year of college and to have been offered a job. I'm definitely one of the few people I know who is still at the same company they started with right after college (actually, the others are also at MS.)
The company has certainly grown a lot. The summer I joined, we crossed $1B in revenues for the first time and had around 5500 employees. Last fiscal year (we announce FY05 earnings later this week), we were over $36.8B in revenue and somewhere around 55000-60000 employees. Crazy. (It is, however, nice to see revenue growth dramatically outpacing headcount/cost growth.)
We've also grown up in a lot of other ways, I think. We care more deeply about taking care of our existing customers in addition to driving ahead for the next release. We're definitely more serious about quality and security than ever. I also think we're becoming a better partner, vendor, and citizen.
We are, of course, a little more bureaucratic these days. Nothing like IBM or 3M, two places I interned, but there are definitely a few more hoops. I understand that some of the hoops are necessary, but I do miss the lighter Microsoft. (If I have to chase down stragglers on my team to watch one more mandatory HR video, I'm going to scream.) A blog written by an anonymous MS employee talks about this topic further. MiniMsft. I don't agree with everything he/she says, but much of it rings true.
I'm also a little tired of everyone attributing our actions to some nefarious plot. Get over it. We're not that smart or coordinated. If you have to choose between incompetence or evil to explain a Microsoft action, 99.9% of the time, incompetence is the reason. (Actually, this is true for many things in life.) We really are trying to do good things. I liked it better when were just incompetent. This evil thing gets me down.
Fortunately, many important things have not changed. We still hire smart, creative, passionate people who love helping customers with technology. We still have a strong merit-based system that recognizes and nurtures talent. And we still have free soft drinks.
It's been a fun ride so far. I'm curious where it will take me, but I'm up for it.
July 16, 2005
While I'm complaining, I thought I'd share another pet peeve. Several times a week, my ears are assaulted by people misusing fewer and less. This is even true of my well-educated colleagues with degrees from prestigious colleges.
As Merriam-Websters describes, fewer "applies to matters of number and modifies plural nouns."
Less "applies to matters of degree, value, or amount and modifies collective nouns, mass nouns, or nouns denoting an abstract whole."
That is, if you can count the thing in units, use fewer, otherwise use less. Examples: "Fewer items", "fewer days", "less work", "less happy".
I'm sure I make lots of usage mistakes (probably even in this post), but this mistake just bugs me. It's so common that even M-W mentions the increased usage. Bad, bad, bad.
(As an aside, I'm sad the Encarta Dictionary didn't have any usage info on this topic. I worked on v1 of the Dictionary and had hoped it would grow into something more.)
Why does the wait-staff offer freshly ground pepper for soups and salads?
First off, 99.9999999% of the time, I just got the damn thing; how do I know if it needs pepper?
Second, what's wrong with the pepper in the shaker? Oh, it's not as good? Then why the hell put in on the table? F
inally, if you're going to offer, grind out enough pepper to matter. The motions of grinding a peppermill do nothing for me or the dish. If you're doing to give me pepper, give me pepper until I tell you to stop. I don't care if your arms fall off from RSI.
This is one of Michelle's pet peeves. Now that she's pointed it out to me, it grates on me like fingernails on a chalkboard.
As I mentioned in my last post, Andrew (8!) had his birthday party this afternoon with eight of his friends from school (all boys). It was mostly pretty harmless aside from the typical party favor fights (you know, those paper things you blow on that unroll and the roll back up? -- lots of poked eyes) and eight year-olds hyped up on sugar running around making up insane games.
However, the Mercer Slough Science Center and Interpretive Trail where we had the party was a mosquito infested hell pit. The boys and I went out on a hike with a naturalist to learn about bugs. We learned all about bugs and how much we hate them. We were getting eaten alive by mosquitos. The naturalist took three to the forehead like headshots right out of the gate. The organic, world safe, no dye, no pain, nice smelling bug spray Michelle gave us formed a thin and only partially succesful barrier against these aerial menaces. We beat a hasty retreat to get off the trail, harassed by enemy air superiority the whole way.
I guess having a party in a slough in mid-July was dumb. Duh.
(As an aside, the etiquette around RSVPs seems to be lost these days. If you're coming RSVP yes. If you RSVP yes, show up. If you're not coming, RSVP no. Ain't that hard.)
I finished it. The new Harry Potter book. I bought it at 12:03am at a local QFC (a grocery store -- I figured it would be less crowded than traditional bookstores). I came home, pulled an all-nighter, and finished around 6:35am.
I won't spoil the ending, but I will say much of the speculation on the web has been correct. There are a few shocks plus some expected resolutions. All-in-all, pretty good. Better than some of the others (like 2).
I should go to bed now, but we need to get ready for Andrew's eighth bday party later this morning. Hm, fifteen crazy eight year old boys and me on no sleep. This will be interesting.
July 15, 2005
I'm not a big bicycle racing fan, but I do love the Tour de France, mostly to watch Lance stick it to everyone (especially the French -- take that, you Froggies).
I do follow the TDF every year, but this year, my favorite coverage is on Chooky Fuzzbang, a blog by my friend Tony (yes, another Tony). Good commentary and explanations.
I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. I'm not one of those dads who hides behind his kids' love of the books. I expect to get my copy at midnight and pull an all-nighter reading it Saturday at launch. Hope it's good.
Thanks to Boing Boing for the link
July 10, 2005
It's kind of amazing to me how my silly blog winds up coming up high on Google search resuls. I don't think many people really read this blog or link to it, so I admit I'm a bit confused as to why this site pops up on Google so prominently.
Anyway, here's a sample of some of the searches (other than for Tony Chor) result in top 10 hits (links are to the articles):
It's interesting to note that none of these are in the top ten on MSN Search. I guess I should have a word with the MSN guys...
It's summer again (of course) which means we get bags of awesome veggies from the Root Connection, the community supported agriculture (CSA) farm we belong to.
As I've blogged about before, I love the veggies from the Root Connection. This week we got our first carrots of the season, easily my favorite thing from the Farm. Sweet and crisp without being woody like the nasty carrots from grocery stores. It's hard to not eat them all in one sitting.
Of course there's lots of other fantastic stuff too. Last week, Michelle roasted the first beets of the season and served them with chevre (goat cheese) in a salad. The beet greens were sauteed with carmelized onions and tossed with pasta. Wow.
I think they're still looking for members for this year, so give them a call! Also, look for them at the Redmond Saturday Market. You'll never look at veggies the same way again.
July 9, 2005
It was a reasonably nice night with good wind. While it's always fun to sail, this week was especially fun because I learned to sail foredeck. This is the position on the front of the boat; the foredeck person stands at the bow (the front of the boat) at the start to call the starting line, handles the head sail, and then sets and manages the spinnaker (the big downwind sail) and the spinnaker pole (a pole that pushes the spinnaker out).
It was definitely a learning experience. There are lots of lines up there. It's a little hard to visualize where they're all supposed to go and in what order when everything is on the deck. Once the pole and sail go up, tangles and overlaps can cause huge problems (I had to stop everything twice and untie/unclip things to fix overlaps -- very slow and bad). It's even harder because you actually have to think about the next move the boat will make and where lines need to be then (another mistake there). Still, I had a good coach and it was fun
This is a pretty busy job at times. The boat is often heeling pretty far when I'm up there. I typically need both hands to get the pole ready, etc. so I have to stay low to stay on the boat (important). As a result, my knees and shins are all banged up and cut from smashing on the deck and the little hardware that sticks up all over. At various times, my feet were also dragging through the water as I hung onto the boat on various tacks.
Despite the physical abuse I took and the fact we finished DFL (dead f*cking last ) in two of the three races (we did, however beat the #1 boat in the second race), I had a super great time and am excited to do it all again.
July 4, 2005
Happy Independence Day! (To my British friends, sorry about the loss of your colonies.) I love the 4th of July. I have lots of great 4th of July memories like watching fireworks from the Marin Headlands overlooking the Golden Gate bridge, watching the fireworks from a speedboat in Lake Washington, and seeing a different perspective while in Germany one year.
Today was no exception. Nice round of golf at Newcastle, friends over for a barbeque, and then watching the Bellevue fireworks with Andrew (7). Beautiful weather, for a change too. (Normally, the 5th of July is the nicest day in Seattle.)
However, every 4th of July, my strongest memory is of Trinket, our former sailboat. We took deliver of this brand new 1998 Tartan 3500 and had our first sail on July 4, 1998. We didn't know what we were doing; we wound up dodging Washington State Ferries all day, drifting along under sail. Still, it's one of the two happiest days of a boater's life (the other, of course, is the day you sell your boat, as I can attest.)
Andrew and I shared another memorable 4th on Trinket, watching the fireworks from Elliott Bay Marina. We sat on the boom, about four feet over the deck, so we could see better. Andrew, who was five at the time, fell asleep in my arms (while we were still perched on the boom) during the fireworks. Definitely a 4th I'll never forget.
I can't wait until next year...
July 2, 2005
As a fun thing to do on a slow day, I took a bunch of my team out yesterday to Bellevue Muni golf course to hit some balls and get a hot dog for lunch. Several of the team including me brought golf clubs to share with the others.
Everything was going well. Then, two of my guys came up to me with sheepish grins and asked, "the review model is closed, right?" (this is our annual performance review with scores). Then they showed me not one but two broken golf shafts, the heads sheared off at the tip of the shaft.
One guy had broken my Callaway seven wood, the head flying 50 yards onto the range (probably the farthest he managed to get anything down range.) Then the guy on the next mat with my Callaway three wood does exactly the same thing.
I've never broken a single golf club in my life, let alone two. These are nice guys who weren't doing anything nutty. Lightning just happened to strike twice.
This is God's way of saying I need new clubs...