Friday, August 26, 2005

Funny videos

I saw some funny videos made at work this week:

A few summer interns decided to say goodbye by creating a music video (the waterfall and rock garden are right outside my building too!). I hope they code better than they sing. ;-)

The Virtual Earth team made a funny film on the creation of Virtual Earth. Corny, but fun to watch in a room full of hundreds of geeks chowing down on Krispy Kremes and coffee.

There was also a third video on punishing our developers for their bugs by driving sharp metal objects into their ***es, but I don't think it's been posted publicly yet and some group like legal or PR would probably have a field day with it. ;-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Google on my mind...

I finally took the bus to work! Yes, it took me having to get my car serviced before I'd get off my lazy butt and try it out -- but still, I did it! Where I'm from (Los Angeles), public transportation sucks. It's impossible and takes forever to get anywhere without a car. But out here, it's a breeze, and you beat all the traffic by traveling in the handy dandy carpool lanes.

On the ride home, I happened to sit next to a Microsoftie I met last week at the location aware software discussion. It was pretty cool chatting with him a bit more about this that and the other. It looks like he has a blog too where he's written some cool stuff about his mobile projects at MSN and some funny bus stories. I'd have to say that before today, I've never been on a jam-packed public bus where every other person has open a laptop or tablet. Probably would've been worth a picture.

In other news... Google launched Google Talk. I installed it to check it out. True to Google's form, it's very clean and simple. You can chat, and you can talk. With other Gmail users. Period. I'll be watching with interest to see whether or not this succeeds in its current form. It's definitely lacking features I would've expected, but perhaps the simplicity of it all (+ the Google brand) will be enough to make it a hit. Should be interesting.

If there's one thing I love about Google, it's that they're incredibly disruptive. What's the number one topic of conversation at Microsoft? Unequivically without a doubt: Google. And I'm not just talking about their products. We talk about their food, how much better their T-shirts fit, how they commute to and from work, and just about every other facet of work and life at Google vs. Microsoft. I have received about 200 emails related to Google in the last 3 days. At lunch, we talked about Google. In my office, Google comes up at least once an hour (thats ~10 times per day) -- not including # of times it comes up in my web browser. ;-)

So, in honor of Google's disruptiveness, I wore my Google shirt to work today. My manager came into my office and confessed that she too had a Google shirt, but was too afraid to be seen in it. I don't blame her, it definitely drew more than a few comments and stares.

Okay, my buddy Ayush just IM'd me on Google Talk, and I clicked "Call" to check it out. Oh my god. Soooo cool. I wasn't even sure whether it would work, but apparently my Thinkpad has a microphone built in and Ayush says it is crystal clear (I'm at home on wifi+comcast). I think it's pretty damn cool that you can install an app in <5 seconds, without any setup, and be seamlessly talking to people so easily online. I think the reviews are gonna lay the smack down on Google for lack of features, but this might be one case where they did 1-2 things really really well and made them incredibly easy and accessible to the world. We'll see. Whatever happens, we need more companies like Google challenging assumptions and causing disruptions. Word.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

No subject

This past week has been a particularly engaging one at work... so much so, that all I've been able to think about at home... is work... and don't get me wrong... I'm totally cool with that... some of my most brilliant realizations come to me in the shower... and in the car... and I write them down and take them back with me to work... but lately... I've even started to think about work in my dreams... the last 3 nights, in fact, I've dreamt about work... and it's really beginning to get to me... because nothing productive comes from the dreams... and don't I think about work enough as it is? without it invading my dreams... the last sacred place... and I begin to wonder (don't you know that it's really making me crazy)... so I searched the web and found this Harvard study where they subjected people to hours of Tetris... and what do you know they dreamt about Tetris... I remembered hearing something about controlling dreams on the Diggnation podcast last week... so I searched some more and found this really weird site... and since their message board is so popoular it must be true... but I don't have time to try it because I'm too busy trying to learn Chinese... and thinking about work... geez... I'm starting to blog like Rory... who rocks by the way... yet another Microsoftie I wouldn't mind meeting sometime... whoah it's 1am... time to go to sleep again... sorry for the ellipses... you shouldn't be reading this anyway.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

America is just another country

Congratulations, patriotic Americans! You've won! Foreign workers will not be able to apply for any more H-1B visas until April 2006.

Instead of bringing their brilliant talent to our great country, paying taxes to our great government, driving to Vegas on the weekends and recirculating their wages into our great economy, foreign workers will be relegated to the wide array of job opportunities in their own countries.

America will be forever stronger now! You've saved our jobs!

Software, volleyball, and blogging

Yeah, it's been a week since I've blogged, and even longer since I've blogged anything substantive. Here goes.

Google's rumored acquisition of Meetro, their actual acquisition of Android, and a bunch of other buzz in the world of location-based services and location and mobility in general really rekindled my interest in the area.

Ayush, one of my collaborators on the mates project is interning at Microsoft for the summer (he's working on the IE7 search experience!). So, we decided to ping a few people we knew and float an email to a distribution list in order to organize a meeting on the subject of "location aware software".

We got quite the response, and worked our butts off Monday and Tuesday night throwing together some slides and a brief presentation for the discussion today. We had a good turnout with representatives from a wide range of product groups and research teams, and had some great discussion and ideas.

I don't know of many companies where it's completely normal for an intern and a kid straight out of college to lead an initiative among a group of people who've been at the company for 10+ years. It was certainly a humbling, yet positive experience. (Now we're faced with a new challenge: turning talk and ideas into results!)

My division had a company off-site today at a park on a lake 10 minutes from work. I generally consider manufactured bonding experiences (like off-sites and retreats) to be lame, but decides to tag along with some coworkers at the last minute - just for an hour to get some free lunch. It ended up being really cool! There were all sorts of toys -- even jet skis. I got a game of volleyball together with some of my coworkers, and ended up staying for closer to 2 hours. :-)

Robert Scoble took a trip to Google. It was interesting hearing from him about the differences he noticed between the way Google and Microsoft operate. Google is a fierce competitor, and everyone at Microsoft knows and is constantly thinking about it (a good thing).

On a related note, copies of Scoble's book are available for pre-order. I'll probably pick one up sooner or later (I wonder how quickly they'll arrive at the MS library!). Lately, I've wondered a bit about what would happen in Scoble left Microsoft for a competitor (and took his non-MS hosted blog with him). Is this a liability he covers in his book on business blogging? ;-)

Ah well, that's all I've got for now. Blogging has become rough ever since I graduated and started working full-time. I spend 90% of my time at work or thinking about work, and can blog about very little of it. It's also tough to remain unbiased and know when to bite my tongue on some of my more critical opinions of my company and my competitors -- and since we/they make up quite a huge portion of all things technology, it leaves little fair game for the blog.

*sigh* I'll think of something.

Friday, August 05, 2005


It's been a crazy week. I decided to take 2 days off to take a mini-vacation back to Ann Arbor last weekend and had an awesome time visiting the college friends, but came back to a boatload of work.

Here's a really great description of what I do all day (or, there's always the HR version). I'd venture a guess that unless you've been a PM in a fast-paced environment, you can't imagine how much I relate to this part:

Some years ago I realized that as a PM, my definition of vacation was not just going somewhere to have fun (work is quite fun most of the time). Vacation means getting to an environment where no decisions have to be made. I used to drive my friends nuts, since I would go visit them, and they'd say "what do you want to do?", or "where do you want to go?", and I would simply say "you decide".

When I come home from work, all I want to do is curl up on the couch and watch a good movie. No discussion, no decisions -- just dim the lights, put on some tea, and relax.