October 2006

October 30, 2006

Windows Media Player 11 Shipped!

Categories: Random cool stuff

Download Windows Media Player 11

Congrats to the Windows Media Player team for shipping a great WMP 11. As I mentioned before, I really like it a lot.

You can get here -- check it out!

Posted October 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A good week

Categories: Random junk

Well, for the first time all season, the Stanford football team didn't lose. Thank, God. Of course, they didn't play, but I'll take whatever small mercy I can get.

Posted October 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

October 26, 2006

"The Cake" on Boingboing

I'm so proud. The cake story made Boingboing and Slashdot (well, not my post detailing what happened, but the story about the cake.)

It's so funny that smart but apparently under-busy people keep looking for some hidden meaning in the cake. From the Boingboing article:

Update 2: Fred sez, "The IE-team cake looked suspicious, what with the irregular white and black marks. The conspiracy theorist in me made me think about Morse code. I saw in the comments on the original blog that some people had looked at it and that there is no obvious morse code there. I couldn't be bothered to write a perl script to parse it depending on the starting place and direction of the message (cw or ccw), but it sure looks like some kind of message. I see, starting top left going cw, 'S E S / A T / (D:N:B) (U:V:A) / T N' I assume that someone else could properly decode this, so I suggest sending this as a challenge to all the would-be cryptographers and lovers of codes. What message has the IE-team hidden in the icing on the Firefox cake?"

The poor Mozilla guy who blogged about the cake had his server bandwidth charges fly through the roof with all the traffic. Sorry about that.

Posted October 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 24, 2006

The story behind "The Cake"

The Mozilla guys released Firefox 2 today. I know that it's a ton of work to release something as big and complex as a browser, so I thought it would be nice if we sent them a cake congratulating them on this achievement.

Since I didn't know any bakeries near the Mozilla headquarters, Christopher Vaughan and I called on a friend, Liz, down in Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus to see if she could help us out. She immediately obliged and found a bakery that would make the cake and deliver it. Liz mentioned something about the bakery not using food coloring, so our "e" logo wouldn't be blue. Oh well. Best not to poison the FF guys with food coloring anyway. (For those who care, it was a chocolate rum cake from the Prolific Oven in Palo Alto. This is apparently one of their most popular styles. I hope it was good.)

The cake from the IE team to the Mozilla team

Well, Fred from the Mozilla project blogged about the cake, and the story got picked up on Digg in a hurry.

As usual the comments on Fred's blog and Digg are hilarious.

I wonder if there's a message hidden in binary in the black frosting around the edge...

Whose blind toddler decorated it for them?

It's probably poison. Ever hear of the trojan horse?
Microsoft: eliminating competition the old fashion way.

Please, like the IE team would seriously sign it "Love,"...good prank

You should send them a cake back, include the recipe, and say you'll gladly accept suggestions for improvement.

Just hope it doesnt have a naked bill gates inside

Did anyone actually eat that cake? And how many were down with diarrhoea or intestinal worms after that?

Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar. We just wanted to give the FF team a pat on the back. There's no personal animosity between the teams (I like the FF team members I've met so far).

Nothing to see here.

[2006-10-24: fixed a link and some typos]

Posted October 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

My secret food

Categories: Food and Drink

Slashfood posted an article about "secret foods" today - the thing every person, no matter how decided a foodie they are will eat when no one else is around.

Me? I love instant noodles. I'm not picky. Cup-o-Noodles, Top Ramen, you name it. Nothing beats a hot bowl of soup noodles, even if it is a styrofoam bowl. Michael (6) has picked this up from me now.

My other secret food is goldfish crackers. I've always loved them, and since the kids were little, we always have them around. Very dangerous. Call me old fashioned, but I still like the cheddar ones best (no, not the cheddar with whole grain or the calcium enriched ones. WTF?)

(I love that Wikipedia has articles on goldfish crackers and instant noodles. The fact they're serious articles is even funnier.)

What's your secret food?

Posted October 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

October 22, 2006

A joke

Categories: Kids

Andrew (9) told me this joke today. It's somewhat remarkable because it's actually kind of funny. Most of his jokes aren't.

Scene: Cloud City of Bespin during the light saber duel
Darth Vader: "Luke, I know what you're getting for Christmas."
Luke Skywalker: [obvious anguish] "How could you know?!"
Darth Vader: "I can sense your presents."

Ba dum dum. Splish.

Posted October 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

The blog I should have written

Categories: Food and Drink

Every so often, I find a blog or site that I think I should have started. Yesterday, I found such a blog: Bacon Unwrapped. This site is an unapologetic love poem to the king of foods. Some recent posts: Subliminal bacon art, bacon brownie recipes, and an article debunking the bacon-causes-cancer alarmism.

I especially love their tagline, "Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon."

Just in case reading the site makes you hungry for bacon, here's a link back to my post on the best way to cook bacon.

Oink, oink.

Posted October 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 21, 2006

Bacon Art

Categories: Kids

Andrew (9) declared today that when he's older, he wants to make bacon art. "I want to pile up bacon, add more bacon, and then frame it to sell in art galleries."

Brings a tear to my eye. It's great to be a dad.

Posted October 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

October 19, 2006

We shipped IE7!

The countdown sign in our lobby

Somewhat ironically, I'm probably the last person in the blogosphere to report that Internet Explorer 7 is finally done and available! Whew. (You can get it here.)

It always feels good to release a new product (I've shipped dozens of products at Microsoft starting with Golf 1.0 for Windows), but I'm especially proud of this one. We rebuilt the team from almost nothing, listened and learned, and worked our asses off for the past few years. It was an exciting ride full of ups and downs all the way to the end. It's not perfect of course, but I think it's pretty darn good. I'm lucky to work with an amazingly dedicated and talented group of people who made it happen. I was struck by how many people from around the company contributed to the product as I was writing the "we're done" mail. It was truly a monumental effort. (No, I won't say how many people worked on IE, so don't ask.)

After we went live on the web yesterday at 5:00pm, we had champagne, blew air horns in the building (an old, lost tradition that I think may have annoyed the other team in our building - oh well), and then went out for more drinks and pool later at The Garage. (Before we left the office, Alex, one of our developers, shared a lovely limited edition cask-strength single malt - Caol Ila. Wow.) We also did a little sidewalk chalking around Microsoft campus to mark the occasion.

IE7 in sidewalk chalk

Today, we had a slightly bigger party with everyone who helped with IE7. We had the requisite toasts by Dean (our General Manager) and Steven (our Senior VP), had some more champage, and then started throwing people into the fountain, starting with Dean (another old tradition). Of course, I wound up in the fountain as well. It's not as deep as one might think, resulting in a banged up elbow that bled nicely for a while (unfortunately, another old tradition). Fortunately, Jim, another one of our developers brought a nice 18-yo Caol Ila (quite by coincidence), which took the edge off the pain...

Me in the fountain wearing my IE sweatshirt

This was a big milestone for us. We still have lots of localized versions to ship plus that little Windows Vista thing to finish up. Plus, we've already started work on our next two versions. But, today (and yesterday) it was fun to savor the moment.

So, don't delay - go get it now!

Posted October 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

October 14, 2006

TEDTalks: Fascinating

Categories: Random cool stuff

Michelle and I have been watching the TEDTalks for a while now. These are videos of talks given at TED2006, the Technology Entertainment, and Design conference held in Monterey, CA. So far the speakers have been incredibly interesting. I've especially enjoyed a few:

  • Al Gore: He's life-like and even charming here. If he'd shown half this much humanity during the campaign, he would have won.
  • Tony Robbins: The talk is too short for him to provide any real content, but he's simply a fantastic speaker. His talk a great demonstration of public speaking technique.
  • Hans Rosling: This professor of international health does an incredible job of bringing global health data to life. It's worth watching the video just to see the data presentation alone; it really sets a new bar for me on how to present tons of data.
  • Jeff Han: He demonstrates a pretty cool multi-touch user interface here. Fun stuff.
  • Jennifer Lin: This fourteen year old concert pianist is amazing. The coolest part is that she improvs a concerto at the end from a randomly chosen five note theme (actually picked by Goldie Hawn, who was in the audience.) In aome ways, hers was the most mind-blowing talk to me because her talent is the furthest from mine.
  • Joshua Prince-Ramus: He's the architect of the spectacular Seattle Central Library. I love the way he functionally breaks down the tasks and roles the buildings play, consider the limitations, and then recombines the solutions into functional art.

There are a bunch more talks I need to watch. I'm particularly interested to see Jimmy Wales' talk (he's the founder of Wikipedia, my new fascination) and Mena Trott's talk (she's the founder of Six Apart, the company that makes Moveable Type, my blog software.) Steven Levitt (Freakonomics), Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point and Blink), and Nicholas Negroponte (One Laptop Per Child and former Director of the MIT Media Lab) are on my list too.

It's worth checking out. You can get the podcasts through iTunes and the site too.

Posted October 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 13, 2006

Stand and fight or lay down and die?

Categories: Random junk

This news article made me happy. It's about a Texas school district that is teaching their teachers and students to fight back if a gunman attacks their classroom.

“Getting under desks and praying for rescue from professionals is not a recipe for success,” said Robin Browne, a major in the British Army reserve and an instructor for Response Options, the company providing the training to the Burleson schools.

I definitely agree that too many people are willing to leave their safety and their life in the hands of fate, relying on simple hope that nothing bad happens rather than taking an active role in their life. This has helped formed my views on gun rights and on how I spend some of my time. God forbid, if I'm ever faced with a life-threatening situation, I hope to have the presence of mind and the training to do something instead of just hoping the situation passes.

It drives me crazy that what passes for conventional wisdom these days is that people should lay down and pray that the bad guys pass them over. Is taking action guaranteed to succeed? Of course not. But the odds are better.

I will tell you from personal experience that it's bloody hard to shoot a moving target. I imagine it's even harder to do it if there are twenty people screaming, running at me, and throwing books at my head. However, the worst shooter in the world can easily put a bullet into the back of the head of a kid who is lying face down.

I sincerely hope that these kids will never have to use this training, but I'm glad they're learning to be responsible for their own lives instead of being taught to lay down and wait to die.

Posted October 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Practicing Patience

Categories: Kids

The boys came in the house the other day yelling, pushing, and fighting (as usual) over the usual nothing (who came in the house first, who touched whom, blah blah blah.) Michael (6) was being particularly aggressive.

After they got their shoes off, etc. Michael came into the kitchen and turned toward Michelle smiling and obviously proud:

Michael: "Guess what I did today?"
Michelle: "What did you today today?
Michael (without irony): "I practiced my patience."

Posted October 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 9, 2006

Anticipating the delivery of IE7

As we mentioned in the IE Blog last week, we're getting close to finishing IE7 and shipping it out to the world; in fact, we hope to have it out sometime this month.

This is really a nerve wracking time for me in any ship cycle. We've done everything we think we can and are tying up the loose ends necessary to complete the release. At this point, if we find a bad bug, we have to reset the clock and maybe push out the date. There isn't much we can do to stop the one bad bug; in fact, if it's in there, we want to find it since it's better to find and fix them before we release, regardless of the disappointment to us.

It really reminds me of the feeling I had in the hospital waiting for the kids to be born. We had done our part and were then just waiting for nature to take its course. It's an odd combination of feeling like you've created something and yet being powerless.

Posted October 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Life within my blog

Categories: Random junk

I'm not actually sure why most people read my blog. I know many of you are my friends and colleagues who read this out of courtesy, some are people who are hoping that once in a while I might actually say something useful or interesting about Internet Explorer, and still others maybe just have too much time on their hands.

But, as with most sites I suspect, I also get a bunch of traffic from search engines; most of my referrers are Google sites (US English and others). This results in some odd stuff happening on my site.

For instance, almost exactly two years ago, I wrote about taking Andrew (now 9) to a local Pokemon extravaganza. I didn't offer anything particularly useful to the Pokemon fans, but there is a small ecosystem of people trading tips in my comments. It's so weird to me. This page is by far my most visited on the site. (It's the number three hit on Google and #5 on Live Search for "Pokemon Deoxys Aurora Ticket", which I guess is a popular query if you are a Pokemon fan".) Check it out. 

The second most popular page (by a longshot) is a post I did about a particular bottle of rum. (This post is the number one hit on Google and Live Search for "best rum in the world".) Now, I have a bunch of very opinionated people offering their views on the best rum (actually, I've gotten some good tips from the comments.)

It's really just odd to me that these little pockets of activity have sprung up on my blog long after I wrote the original post. The net is a strange place full of even stranger people. Oh well, as long as they click the ads...

[Reposted to fix the title]

Posted October 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Life without TV

Categories: Random junk

For the past two years, we've lived without television. OK, that's not really true. We have a TV and a DVD player, but we don't have any TV signal. Everything we watch has to be brought into the house.

It's actually been a pretty interesting experiment. We've always had cable or satellite and watched TV like everyone else. When we moved into this house, we decided to cut off the signal. The kids were starting to watch too much TV, and truth be told, I was spending too much time watching TV too. The kids hated this house for a while because they thought it didn't have any signal.

The transition wasn't really all that hard, especially with so much news on the Internet, the best TV series available on DVD, and Netflix delivering movies. I now have lots of time back to do other stuff like exercise, read, or blog (or even sleep once in a while!) The kids don't seem to mind too much either. I don't think I'll ever look back on my life and wish I'd watched more TV. This has worked out to be a good decision.

That said, there are a few side effects. I miss watching sports; it's one of the few things I think you can't really recreate via the web or other means. I've also found the kids don't have a good sense of any sports because they don't see them played, don't hear the color commentary, and don't have favorite players. I'm not a huge sports fan, but the sports thing may cause me to rethink the no-TV bit (we did hook up rabbit ears to watch Seattle play in the Super Bowl.)

I also find myself at a bit of a loss in conversations sometimes. I don't know what happened on The Apprentice last night (and really don't care) and don't get the Apple commercial parodies. And I really don't know who have the pseudo-celebrities are (who is Jessica Simpson and why is she famous?)

When I don't understand what's going on in the conversation and explain it's because we don't have TV, people often look at me like I'm some kind of Luddite freak. The other common reaction is "wow, that's cool. I could never do that." Most people simply cannot imagine living without live TV. Wild.

I will admit that when we're on vacation, we are often all glued to the TV in the hotel room. The kids catch up on their cartoons, and Michelle and I watch whatever trainwreck pop show happens to be hot. It's like binging on Pop Tarts, Mountain Dew, Slim Jims, and Lunchables. I feel like I need a shower afterwards.

If you've never turned off your TV for a week (or better, a month), give it a try. It's actually amazingly liberating.

Posted October 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

October 1, 2006

The kids have found my blog

Categories: Kids

Andrew (9) and Michael (6) read my blog the other night for the first time. They now know that I've been writing about them and their misdeeds.

However, rather than being mad about it, they're suggesting new posts all the time. "Dad, why don't you blog about this?" as they start doing something silly.

This is another example of the observer effect in action, I guess. I think I'm in trouble now.

Posted October 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)