Company Meeting

Company meeting: instead of showing fancy computer graphic loops this year, Microsoft did a wonderfully wise thing and showed all of their historic “fun” mock videos. These videos typically can’t be released outside of company events because some contain blatant copyright violation (okay to do, I guess, as long as you don’t let it out of the wild).

Some of my favorites (before and during the meeting):

  • Da Da Da – Gates and Balmer driving around as in the old VW ad. Instead of picking up an old stinky chair they pick up an old stinky Sun workstation, promptly abandoning it as soon as they get a good whiff.
  • Weapon of Choice – Valentine stuck in a boring analyst meeting riffing between the choice of either Microsoft of all of its partners or IBM and Linux / Penguin lock-in.
  • Motivator – Valentine as the body-checking motivator to keep the Windows team productive and not goofing off.
  • Steve-o – a Matrix send up with Balmer as Neo / Steve-o and Gates as Morpheus: the red pill has a tiny Windows logo on it, the blue pill is a huge with an IBM / Penguin logo on it.

Linus and Leadership

The articleWired 11.11: Leader of the Free World is a profile of Linus Torvalds. I have to say, he’s a great example of how to deal calmly with a chaotic system, let alone some chaotic characters. I respect him for that.

InfoPath and Standard Register

For today, the web page Welcome to Standard Register features their InfoPath work…

Back from New Orleans

Well, on Monday I travelled back to the Northwest, leaving at O’dark-30 on a long flight from N.O. to S.F. Flying over S.F. was great! I was even able to see the Golden Gate Bridge when flying back to SeaTac. The downtown area is HUGE.

Back in the Northwest it is was cloudy and cool. Somehow, I knew I was going to forget my nice spring jacket in the hotel room. Sure enough. It just wasn’t cold enough there to remember to grab it at 4:50am on the way to the shuttle.

Beau required a quick trip to the vet to cut out a gross-little fly parasite that usually takes residence in mice but one decided that Beau was good enough to raise its young. Luckily the vet had it out lickity-snip. Since the van hadn’t be reloaded with the dog crates yet, Beau got to take a ride in the Subaru, something he hadn’t done since 1998, if I remember right.

Low Key

Low key day today. I have to leave early tomorrow morning, and due to my delayed hotel reservations, I have to stay out near the airport, making getting into downtown New Orleans expensive and time consuming. So I took a nice walk around some of the lake and sat there for a while just watching the waves splash in. There’s a huge levy around the way around here. I continued walking on top of the levy for a long time (until I realized I didn’t bring any water and I was surely getting dehydrated). To one side is the lake. To the other, a suburb of distinct homes, most with pools (forget about that… it’s such a foreign idea now, having lived in the Northwest for 10+ years) and some with tennis courts. The levy was so high that my head was even with most of the roof tops.

Lost in Translation, Duran Duran and I'm so old…

Today was the last day of booth duty. One of the fellows predicted exactly what ended up happening: (1) There was going to be a swag grab (people grabbing all the free stuff provided by the booths), (2) People were going to blow-off the break-outs and other sessions and finally get to the the booths to get their answers questions, and (3) Come 5pm, people would start disappearing.

The swag disappeared pretty quickly. Some people were grabbing anything that looked like it was meant to be free. Their fingers twitched all anxious-like: so hurried to ensure they could load up on all this crap to take home. Well, I guess kids like the stuff, so that’s cool.

Then I got loaded with lots of people wanting to talk about InfoPath. Really good people. I enjoyed learning about what their line of work was and what they needed and how InfoPath could help them out.

After my turn was done, I talked with some of the partners using InfoPath and then ditched the Microsoft work to go enjoy the glorious day. What the-? Still raining?!? The forecasted sun decided to skip out. So rather than enjoy a damp downtown, I skipped it back to the same theater from the night before to see Lost in Translation (good movie, I don’t think I’d want to see it again. I can’t really recommend it.).

Then it was time for one last party at the aquarium. So-so food (well, free food so actually it was great). The aquarium is doing well, though this has to be about the fourth time I’ve been through it. I got to run the electric eel voltage spinner and shock a couple of people. Then it was time for the Duran Duran concert.

Come about the third Duran Duran song, I suddenly realized: I’m old. Duran Duran was new and fresh and hip during my last year in high school. We’re talking 1982 / 1983. Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf and all that. Twenty years! Almost enough time for a kid to have been born and looking forward to drinking alcohol!


House of Blues

As a partner event, Microsoft hosted a party at the House of Blues. No, not just the House of Blues. The whole friggin’ block on which the House of Blues resides.

It was fairly crowded. I enjoyed some good ole cooking (mashed sweet potatoes, cornbread) and while enjoying this reggae band a lady came up and asked me a question about local talent Dr. John. “What?” She repeated, “Would you like to go upstairs and meet Dr. John?”


So the local crowd control took a column of us party-goers through the crowd and then we waited to go in by 2′s and 3′s. My time came: got a free signed CD, had a picture taken with Dr. John and a couple of other folks, and got to shake the man’s hand and say some nice things to him.

The exit for this ends up stage right of where Smashmouth is about to start playing. Pretty good view! I decided to stay and watch the entire Smashmouth set. They’re a great live band and the crowd was great, too.

Then after that I got to see Dr. John doing his thing on a 2nd stage.

I briefly hit the streets, but this time when I put my foot on Bourbon and looked at the leering, shuffling crowd, I decided to turn back and go to the room. The previous night’s downtown wandering was good enough to last me a while.

Kill Bill (no, Kill Dots!)

Saw Kill Bill tonight. Only one person walked out, so I guess that means everyone else knew how god-awful violent (though, kind of a cartoony-violent) the movie was going to be. It’s a little too tongue-in-cheeck to be called a great movie, but it was a nice way to spend some time and see all sorts of wonderful movie magic.

Oh, and there was a complete film-geek in the row ahead of mine. He was commenting on all the little details that people like to geek-out over (gunfire flash spattered on the walls, etc.). Glad I’m not that bad!

What really bothered me though is something I wish I hadn’t read about. To help track down how their movies are being copied in theaters and published on the street or to the Internet, movie companies are adding these encoded dot patterns to films (encoded to track down distribution). During the “House of Blue Leaves” portion of this movie, I could really see the dots a lot. They’d flash momentarily on a bathroom wall or a paper door.

WWPC and security

Hit the floor doing booth duty today for the company and InfoPath. Very nice crowd. Half the questions were wondering what the heck InfoPath is (and actually, these are the people excited about a forms package) and the other half were following up on issues / questions they had from using the product.

The Ballmer keynote had a very odd moment when the crowd kinda got quite: SteveB showed this video interviewing some of our partners and what their needs are. And boy, were they ever lighting into MSFT! Too many patches, too confusing, hard to manage, why don’t you get it right the first time! And then Ballmer came on stage, acknowledging the shortcomings we’ve provided, and then going over the plan to address this and get better security.

It’s going to be great to have the simple firewall on by default.

I just wish we could put some kind of defensive technology together: every time you have a security patch, also have code to detect when an assualt is attempted to exploit that exploit. Now I’m not saying fight back (though you could: the infected machine that’s attacking you probably still has the original vulnerability: you could re-infect it with code to patch the exploit and remove the worm). No, I’d just like the patch code to log the machine that’s attacking you and be able to securely distribute this to appropriate ISPs, who’d be able to get that computer off the Net and help their user clean up the infection.

Off to New Orleans

Hit the road for New Orleans today. Very hard lesson learned: don’t twiddle your fingers when trying to setup travel arrangements at the last minute. Especially when going to a town that not only is convention happy, but also has college and professional football games to host. Oy! I at least had the good fortune of being auto-assigned a crew international flight “rest chair” during one of the legs of the trip.

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