Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I've spent a considerable amount of time this evening sipping on a cup of Lapsang souchong while reading Xooglers, a new blog by a handful of ex-Googlers.

Fascinating, I must say!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Nobody builds software faster than Microsoft

As eWEEK [officially ;-)] reports, Microsoft "is readying an online marketplace, code-named Fremont, which is apparently in response to a similar feature that rival Google Inc. introduced a few weeks ago."

It's true. Microsoft saw that Google was introducing a new product and immediately re-tasked several hundred software developers to work day and night building a rival product.

Before Google introduced Base, Microsoft wasn't planning anything. Fremont didn't even exist. It was absolutely 100% completely in response to Google.

Microsoft is just that agile.

Windows server sales surpass Unix, Linux

InfoWorld reports that for the first time ever, Windows server sales have surpassed both Unix server sales and Linux server sales.

My product falls under the umbrella of Windows Server System, so this was pretty exciting to see. :-)

(Do I need to turn in my Tux keychain now?)

Work Hard-Play Hard vs. Work-Life Balance

Oh! The price I'm now paying for having done no work over vacation! *Sips tea in preparation for another late night*

Mini-Microsoft writes:

For folks just out of college, my only insight is: if you're unattached and unencumbered by responsibilities the last thing you need to do is go work for a large, slow moving corporation in the 'burbs. Take risks and live the crazy big city life and blow your youthful energy laying down effort on the big pay-off opportunities. You will learn more and do more than you can possibly imagine, especially compared to being placed as a new shiny cog in the corporate machine (where all you can say during your first review is, "And what does this 3.0 mean?"). Then come knocking on the door of the corporate beast in the idyllic, moist, family friendly Pacific Northwest.

This statement bothers me... because there's some truth to it. Microsoft is slower moving than a startup or a couple of gearheads in a garage. Microsoft is not a risky place to work. Microsoft generally doesn't present big pay-off opportunities. Microsoft is generally not characterized by "youthful energy" (something Mini's post doesn't help, btw).

After school, I considered not going to work for Microsoft. Actually, I considered not going to work for anyone, and just building something on my own in my (parents') garage. I didn't even want to interview with Microsoft. A friend convinced me to do it on a bus and I said yes just to get him off my back.

Anyhow, despite all of the aforementioned things that Microsoft is not, I've still learned more here in the last 6 months than I did in 6 months of college, or in 6 months at a startup (I took 2 years off from school to work for a startup in the SF Bay Area).

My biggest concern is what I'll learn in the next 6 months, or in the next year, or two years. Will the learning curve level off? Will things slow down? I've seen Dare mention on his blog several times that he plans to leave Microsoft for reasons I can certainly relate to. And the downsides Mini mentions about being young and working at Microsoft are very real problems. A startup is faster, riskier, has more youthful energy, and bigger pay-off opportunities than a 60,000 person company. Is it more fun to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?

I've realized there are two types of people who work at Microsoft. There are the WLBs (Work-Life Balances), and there are the WHPHs (Work Hard-Play Hards).

During my New Employee Orientation, I was bombarded by information about how Microsoft promotes "Work-Life Balance". And it does. And I didn't really care to hear about it. And 95% of the hundreds of people in my New Employee Orientation were older than I, many probably have partners and children, and many probably care about Work-Life Balance more than I do. They're the WLBs, and they the make up most of the company.

Then there's me. I'm a WHPH. I'll sit in front of the computer and forget to eat or drink if I'm engaged. While the WLB might come to work for 8 hours and work 7 of them + 2 more at home with the kids, I might come to work for 14 hours but spend 5 reading blogs and eating/drinking/chatting with coworkers. We both get the same amount of work done... I guess. But for me, I'm much more engaged working with other WHPHs than WLBs. And don't get me wrong, I respect the WLBs as much as I do the WHPHs -- WLBs are usually much much more experienced than WHPHs. My team is about 80% WLB and 20% WHPH. Unfortunately, this leaves the hallway lonely and quiet after 8pm at night, so I go home too... because it's no fun to stick around.

I think that one of Microsoft's biggest challenges is recruiting and retaining the WHPHs. Often, these are people who are less concerned with stability, great benefit packages, etc. These are people who are in it to have fun and take risks, and are also probably looking for big pay-offs for taking big risks and putting in longer hours than the average bear. I would also conjecture that these are the type of people who are jumping ship to Google and/or startups. Hmm. Hey Mark, someday I'd love to hear/read about why you decided to leave Microsoft, if that's a story you're up for telling!

Microsoft, and other large companies, need to spend more time studying WHPHs, and strategizing around recruiting and retaining them for the long term.

Now, back to work for me. ;-)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Beware of New HP LaserJet Printers!

As part of a Thanksgiving project to make my parent's home "fully" wireless, my Dad and I picked up a new HP LaserJet 1022 and hooked it up to a D-Link DP-G321 wireless print server.

Despite my best efforts, I couldn't get the damn thing to print. After doing a bit of searching online, I came across this and this (english translation) information.

It seems that the new lower-end (ours was $200) HP LaserJet printers are using a host-based printing system. The printers must be directly attached to a Windows or Mac computer, and thus aren't compatible with most print servers (I think HP sells their own compatible wireless print server for over $200 - but forget that!).

Note that this restriction is not explicitly called out in the above HP support document entitled "Explanation of Host-Based Driver", which of course focuses more on the "benefits" of host-based printing (*eye roll*).

Here are the printers that are currently crippled by host-based printing:

  • HP Color LaserJet 1500 series printer

  • HP Color LaserJet 2600n printer

  • HP Color LaserJet 3500 and 3550 series printer

  • HP LaserJet 5L and 6L series printers

  • HP LaserJet 1000, 1005, 1010, 1012, and 1015 series printers

  • HP LaserJet 1020, and 1022 series printers (by default a host-based driver is installed for both of these products. A PCL5e driver is available for use with the HP LaserJet 1022(only))

  • HP LaserJet 1150 series printers (The PCL5e driver is the default driver for this printer.)

  • HP LaserJet 1160 series printers (The PCL5e driver is the default driver for this printer when performing a typical installation. The PCL5e print driver is available on the CD-ROM and for download from the HP Web site.)

  • HP LaserJet 3100 and 3150 series products
If you're thinking about setting up a wireless or other home or small-business print server, or use an OS other than Windows or OS X, be very careful about choosing one of the above printers.

D-Link also provides a list of servers they have successfully tested with their DP-G321 wireless print server.

Also, for what it's worth, the D-Link DP-G321 is a great device. I bought a similar device last year made by a company called Hawking Technology that was a total piece of crap and is now a brick taking up space in the bottom of a drawer. I've actually been pretty happy with D-Link in general. I've had 2 Linksys APs die on me recently, and a Netgear fry (literally -- the thing burned up). D-Link seems to be on the ball when it comes to making great products and posting up-to-date firmware and support info.

Anyhow, the HP is going back to Fry's. I've hooked up Dad's old HP LaserJet 6P, which is compatible with the wireless print server. HP lost the sale, incurred the cost of the return, and earned a bad review posted on the 'net for others to read. Hope they get a clue soon.

(The Caution Image was made by - doesn't this site rock?)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Pictures are Fun.

Somebody dyed a fountain at work green in honor of the Xbox 360 launch. Neat.

John Porcaro has pictures from Zero Hour (1, 2, flickr). Oooh and there's video too!

I'm a sucker for pictures. Do you have any cool ones you'd like to share here? Comments welcome (please keep them PG-13)! :-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

LA: Day 4

Me in my old room:

Today I ...

- Got coffee and bagels with my best friend from high school. Sat outside at a table next to Matt Battaglia. Checked out an awesome men's clothing store, Sy Devore.

- Ran 6 miles in the park with my older sister.

- Took my new jeans to my Mom's fabulous tailor (she had a picture of Sinbad on her wall of clients - haha).

- Watched Harold & Kumar with my Mom (a slightly weird experience) before we go to dinner and then maybe hit the bars.

I miss LA. :-(

Xbox 360 - Sold Out.

Well, Wal-Mart was wrong - they sold out.

Best Buy sold out too. My friend Josh drove by one last night shortly after midnight and said there was a huge line to get into the store.

The $400 premium package is being resold on Ebay for anywhere from $1500-$3350.


Monday, November 21, 2005

John Varvatos USA & Barneys COOP

Spent the day shopping with Mom at South Coast Plaza, by far one of the most fabulous malls in Southern California. Every time I come back to LA, I'm blown away by the city's sense of fashion (and OC too!).

People here are so well-dressed.. tan.. and generally sexy.. and drive such beautiful, overpriced cars. It's so fabulously superficial! Ah, I miss home.

So, the two gems I discovered today were the John Varvatos USA line at his store in the mall and the Barneys COOP store just across the way.

The John Varvatos USA line (seen in pictures) is a little more hipster and casual than his main line. It's also a fraction of the price. It had its own little room in the back of the South Coast store.

The Barneys COOP was neat too. It's a betapilot store -- one of seven. It had an awesome selection of jeans and casualwear. Highly recommend checking it out.

That's all for now!

Chris Anderson on Xbox 360 and The Long Tail

Chris Anderson takes a look at Xbox 360's Media Center Extender functionality.

I'm so jealous, and I'd by lying if I said that I wasn't pondering lining up to buy my own tomorrow morning. I love how even Russ can't resist giving Microsoft his money (it's okay Russ... technically, we lose money on each of these babies).

Hmm... Wal-Mart thinks they won't sell out. We'll see!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Is RSS Mainstream Ready?

I'm not quite sure where my dad lies on the adoption curve.

He loves trying new things... Laying around the Dad-pad, you'll find:

- A $400 Archos portable media player (he's never used)
- A $500 programmable digital touchscreen entertainment center remote control he had to hire somebody to program (we never use because it broke and there's nobody to program the new replacement)
- A Sony Vaio laptop (he uses once a year)
- A brand new Thinkpad X41 Tablet (he's had for months and is waiting for "spare time to practice" before using it)
- An HP photo printer (he's never used)
- About a hundred shrinkwrapped DVDs (he's never watched)
- An abandoned blogging effort (lasted about 11 days)

So, given Dad's love for new things, I figured I'd spend a few minutes this morning showing him how I read RSS feeds through Bloglines.

Of course, he loves the idea and wants to try it!

Now, while Bloglines is a great service and works well for me, I wouldn't exactly call it usable for the average user. I figured we should try setting him up with one of the newer, more mainstream services.

First, we tried Windows Live. We signed him up for a Passport account, and began setting up a few RSS feeds. Most of the news sites he wants to subscribe to provide a concise list of about 10-20 feeds. The RSS search feature returned a horrible list -- nothing like the lists on their sites. So, I manually copied and pasted a few specific feeds into for him.

The next problem with was that the feed we subscribed to is named "News". My Dad and I didn't know which "News" feed we were reading, and there was no way to rename it!

Finally, the biggest issue, was that doesn't mark feeds as read, and only seems to display 5 feeds. I'm getting the impression by this point that it's not meant to be a news aggregator, but rather uses RSS to provide a little value-add here and there to its portal. I'm not sure it's all that useful, but hey, time will tell!

Next, we tried Google Reader. Google Reader was definitely better as a content aggregator, but still didn't meet Dad's needs. It also wouldn't let us rename the feed from "News" to something else, and the information architecture/navigation model is a bit difficult to get used to. I love keyboard shortcuts, but Dad will never use them. While tagging is cool, he's never gonna use it (at least not for another 2-3 years?). Dad loves Gmail, but Reader was too far out of left field.

So finally, Dad suggested we just try Bloglines. I set his feeds up there (Bloglines also doesn't allow you to rename "News" to something else), and let him play around with it. Bloglines has major usability issues (for example, upon loading, how is my dad supposed to know to go to the tiny "My Feeds" tab, and to create a new folder, you need to add a feed, then use the "Create In" dropdown box to select "New Folder", and enter a name in a Javascript dialogue box -- come on, guys!). But hey, we'll see how it works out for him.

In any event, it became clear to me very quickly that the biggest hurdle to RSS adoption by mainstream folks like Dad is going to be adding feeds. Right now, Dad has to find the url to the RSS feed (incredibly difficult), then copy it, then paste it into the right one of many obscure form fields in any of these interfaces. Discoverability is something that browsers (IE7, Firefox, etc) are working on bigtime, but as far as I know, they only add the RSS feed to the local store. Dad wants his feeds in sync on his home and work computers. Some services are working around this by providing "Add to My Yahoo!, Add to Bloglines" type links next to feed icons - a hack that won't scale. I'd propose an "rss://" application handler or similar, that could be bound to any RSS service or software. Does it exist today?

Well, that's all I've got! It's a sunny day in sunny Los Angeles, and time to get off the laptop and enjoy the beautiful weather. In the meantime, I'm interested in hearing your thoughts! Is RSS ready for my Dad?

And lastly, why can't RSS feeds be renamed like bookmarks/favorites can? Hmm...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Six Months with the Borg: First Impressions

It's been almost 6 months since my first day at Microsoft, and also quite some time since my last substantive, original blog entry.

So, after a long day's work and a quiet evening of laundry, dishes, tea, a little bit of reading, and an episode of Lost, I figure it's finally time to sit down and let loose with something I've been waiting to share for quite some time... my first impressions of work and life at Microsoft.

This isn't meant to be an analysis of the good, the bad, and the in-between, or an attempt to explore all of the difficult issues Microsoft faces, but rather a glimpse into the highlights of the first six months of a college hire's life at Microsoft. Take it for what it's worth, your mileage may vary. ;-)

Here goes...

First, What's Cool...

Play with 2010's software in 2005

One of the coolest things by far about working at Microsoft is getting to see and play with cutting edge technology years before it's released. And it's not just about seeing and/or playing with the latest build of Windows, Windows Mobile (and the new phones!), Media Center, Office, Xbox, Messenger, MSN Search, IPTV, ... I'm also talking about software (and hardware) that hasn't even been announced yet... and even incubation projects in research that probably won't hit the market for 3-5 years!

I played with something today that I never knew existed. Something that, when ready to launch, would blow every existing similar product out of the water. Something that, only a company with a huuuuge division devoted to research, could build. There are hundreds of these projects in existence at Microsoft - I come across new ones every few days. It's unbelievable, and for a computer science major and technology geek like me, it's neverending fun.

Bug Bashing

Ever come across a bug, or even a poorly designed feature in a Microsoft product that just really pissed you off to no end? Yeah, me too. Shortly after I started, I discovered that Microsoft employees can log bugs against any Microsoft product (I spent 3 weeks doing this for the backlog of things that have bugged me for the last 10 years).

If the issue really bugs you, you can hunt down the person responsible for it, jack up the priority, call it critical, and continue hounding by email, by IM, by phone... until the damn thing gets fixed. How's that for satisfaction? ;-)

In all seriousness though, I run the next versions of Windows and Office on my desktop, and log my grievances now so that you won't have to after they ship - and tens of thousands of my closest colleagues are doing the same - just for fun, just because we can, and just because we're invited to do so by the people who are building them!

Exposure to the Best and the Brightest

I get to watch, meet, and interact with some of the coolest, brightest, smartest people in the world. And it's not just about seeing BillG and SteveB give talks in person, or about trading emails with kickass bloggers like Robert and Dare. Microsoft also brings in great thinkers and popular authors, journalists, speakers like Tom Friedman and Malcolm Gladwell. I've met researchers whose papers blow my mind, I've watched a kid I went to college with put Steve Ballmer on the spot in front of the entire company about Microsoft's reputation among college students, and I've sent email to Steven Sinofsky and Ken Moss without having to think twice before hitting send.

Next, What's Shocking...

I'll Take one Smackdown, Hold the Side of BS Please!

The most shocking thing by far - and I mean shocking - is the level of openness at Microsoft. This company is the most self-critical group of individuals I have ever seen. You can't imagine the expression on my face the first time I saw dozens of emails sent to thousands of employees with the subject "why msn search sucks". If you think Microsofties are a bunch of uptight, conservative, greedy, businesspeople, think again.

These are ex-newsgroup junkies, ex-BBS junkies, ex-debate team leaders, ex-hackers... They tell it how it is - no BS, no dancing around pink elephants, and then they fix it. And from what I've seen so far, 90% of the time, the voice of reason, not the voice of authority, wins out. It is a true meritocracy, and I love it.

Information Overload

Another thing that's shocked me is the unbelievable availability and flow of information. There are hundreds, possible thousands, of corporate intranet sites and email distribution lists. I rarely find out about what's going on around the company through official channels. I find it hilarious how many of my coworkers get their news first through the rumor mill, then poke around internally to dig up more information.

Before joining Microsoft, I'd receive 5-10 "check out this cool thing on the web" emails a week pointing me to random things on the Internet. Now, I get 5-10 "check out this cool thing at Microsoft" emails a week pointing me to random things on the Intranet too. It's mindblowing.

Real People in Touch with Reality

I have to say that it's rather unfortunate that I found what I'm about to say shocking. Microsoft employees are real people, who care about shipping great software that their customers love more than anything else. I don't encounter talk about bundling this or that, or playing unfair market games, or hatred of our competitors.

Microsoft employees are open about using Firefox, Google, Yahoo, and Apple products - at home and at work. They appreciate the competition and strive to build better products at the same time.

Finally, What to Watch Out For...

Ah... the dangerous part of the post. Along with the good comes the bad. Here's what I've noticed (in the best possible terms)...

Not Everybody Gets to Work on Xbox

Not everybody gets to work on Xbox (somebody is working on MSN Autos). Not everybody gets to work on the iPod (somebody is working on the eMac). I could go on with more examples, but I think you get the point.

If you interview with Microsoft (or any company), make sure that you're truly passionate about the job and the team. Microsoft generally sets college candidates up with interviews with two teams. If the interviews go well, but you're not certain that you're passionate about either of the opportunities, talk about it with your recruiter and ask to interview with two more teams. You're taking a slight risk in doing so (passing up a certain offer on a job you aren't passionate about in exchange for a good chance of another offer on a job you might be more passionate about), but it's probably well worth the risk.

It's also difficult to move around internally at first. So if you have an offer for a job in sustained engineering supporting the previous version of Visual Studio, and it wouldn't get you excited for work in the morning, don't take it!

In retrospect, I didn't really know enough to make an informed decision about the product group I was hired into. I was lucky that things worked out, and I ended up in a healthy place. I'll probably blog further on this at some point in the future (maybe in another 6 months ;-)

CollegeMicrosoft is What You Make of It

Microsoft is a huge company, and it's easy to get lost in the shuffle and become a number. If you haven't gathered this so far, Microsoft is like college in many ways. There are 60,000 employees and a campus with dozens of buildings. You can go out of your way to get involved with different "extra-curricular" activities (seriously - we have everything from beach volleyball and hockey to board games and bar hopping), or you can pass them by. You can go out of your way to have coffee and lunch with some of the smartest, brightest people around, or you can sit in the back of the room with your eyes closed.

Unfortunate Distractions

Watch out for Meeting Madness, No Birds, and generally ridiculous amounts of unnecessary email and process. It's easy to spend an entire day responding to other peoples' email drama. Don't get caught up in this!

At the end of the day, Microsoft is a goal/commitment-driven organization, and a meritocracy. People are rewarded (at least, ideally) by the work that they deliver, and not by the amount of email they generate or number of meetings they call. That said, there are people who love meetings, love long email, and love process roaming about. Avoid becoming one at all costs!

Closing Thoughts

Well, I suppose that's all I've got for now. It's 1am, so I should probably get some sleep. I'm spending tomorrow coffee shop hopping while I work on finishing a spec draft. I still can't talk about what I'm working on... but that day will come soon and I'm really excited for it!

If you're a college student considering working for Microsoft and have any questions, please don't hesitate to post them here or send me an email. I've also found the JobsBlog to be a greeeat resource.

Cheers :-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Three Cheers for CableCARD!

Media Center's upcoming support for CableCARD was announced publicly today!

Lack of CableCARD support has been the only thing standing between me and a Media Center for quite some time, so I'm super-excited about this announcement. Essentially, this will allow you to plug your cable directly into your Media Center - no need for a cable box, an IR blaster, or complex hacks to get your Media Center to support HDTV, the full spectrum of digital cable content, and recording multiple shows at once.

I can't wait!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Who uses Windows Mobile phones?

A couple months ago, at Viceroy, I was playing with my brick, when all of a sudden a cute, young hipster chick leaned over and said "I have the same phone, but when I go out, I take my Razor". I smiled, and she proceeded to ask if I worked for Microsoft. "Is it that obvious?", I asked. We chatted for a few. She and her friends work in Marketing. Heh. ;-)

Last night I saw Liz Phair and Missy Higgins at Neumos. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted an attractive girl playing with a Typhoon. So I figured I'd play geek, leaned over, and asked her if she worked for Microsoft. "Yeah", she replied, with a bashful giggle (probably thinking to herself "Is it that obvious?"). She works in PR.

So, other than the cult following who reads Pocket PC Thoughts and similar enthusiast sites, who exactly uses Windows Mobile phones for personal use other than us Microsofties?

Walking through an airport a couple months back, I saw a Verizon ad targeting business users - on it were 3 smartphones. 2 of the 3 were Windows Mobile. I realized then, and it only compounded further with the announcement of the Windows Mobile Treo and free push email with Exchange SP2, that Windows Mobile was about to make huge inroads into the business world.

But do consumers want Windows Mobile smartphones yet? The Tornado could be the first to break into the market of early adopter consumers, but I have my doubts. I've seen the Blackberry killer and the Treo killer. Where's the Razor killer?

Friday, November 11, 2005

How Do You Measure Up?

(From the men's restroom at the Queenstown Sofitel)

The Snopes article mentions mirrored one-way glass panels allowing restroom patrons to see out as they take care of their business. In May, I actually went to a nightclub in Tel Aviv that had two-way glass panels around the restroom, but was lit in such a way that you could only see silhouettes through the glass. It was... interesting.

How Cool Is Dennis Crowley?!

Yesterday, in a semi-intoxicated state, I mentioned in passing on my blog a wish for Dodgeball support of email checkins.

First thing this morning, Dennis Crowley, dball founder, sent me an email pointing out that they do! Just needed to check "Windows Mobile + Treo + Sidekick users", and put in my email address.

First off, I just have to say that it's friggin' awesome that this dude watches and reads blog links into Second, it's friggin' awesome that he took the time to send me an email basically giving me quick, free tech support, founder2user.

Dodgeball rules. Blogs rule.

Now my only question is who's gonna be the first to spoof my email address and check me in to Deja Vu. ;-)

I'd have to say it was a good day...

Weird day.

Instead of driving over to Redmond, I met a coworker at Sure Shot in the U district for coffee. We brought our laptops and worked at 2x productivity for ~4 hours. Then we grabbed lunch in Cap Hill, and worked at my place for another hour or two.

Our team hit a major milestone last week, and at the urging of our product unit manager, we stopped by a party to celebrate downtown. Open bar. Can't complain.

Ended up bar hopping with a bunch of coworkers for about 8 hours. Jillians, W, Del Rey, Axis, Pesos. I tried to Dodgeball, but my Windows Mobile phone doesn't like sending SMS messages to email addresses (and dodgeball doesn't accept messages via email - boo).

Hanging out with coworkers outside of work is > *. Bonding++;

Need sleep now.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I'm Running Behind; A&F Crossed The Line Again

The Microsoft PuzzleHunt was one of the most intellectually intense experiences I've had in quite some time. A workout for the mind. Loads of fun. Very little sleep. People are uploading pictures here.

Five days behind on email and blogs. Ouch.

My housemate David sent me this article:

Retailer Abercrombie & Fitch said on Friday it would stop selling some of its T-shirts after a national boycott by teenage girls, who objected to slogans emblazoned across the shirts such as "Who needs brains when you have these?"

What the hell were they thinking?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Entertainment Update!

Everyone at work was talking about Lost when it started back up this season, so I started watching, and instantly became hooked. Since I've spent 10pm-midnight throughout the last week and a half catching up on the 1st season DVD set (thanks Netflix!), my bedroom has become a jungle of dirty laundry and dirty dishes. It's beautiful.

With work keeping me busy during the day, and Lost keeping me busy at night, I've also been seriously neglecting my blog. So, I figured what better time for a brief Entertainment Update!

I've seen a few movies recently that I really liked (these have all been added to the side column on my blog too). In no particular order:

Igby Goes Down
Come Undone
Spirited Away
La Femme Nikita
Playing by Heart
Km. 0

In addition to Lost, I've also started watching Weeds on Showtime. It's sooo good. And, I've been watching a documentary series on Sundance called Transgeneration. Eye opening stuff.

I've stopped watching Law & Order, Queer as Folk (series ended), and South Park.

The Wire, one of my all-time favorite series, is returning in 2006. Woohoo.

I started reading Getting Things Done by David Allen, but put it down after about 50 pages. I buy into his ideas, but there was some irony in that in order to become "stress free", I found myself reading a 250 page book about workflows I should implement to manage my life. I'll probably pick it back up again, but for now, I needed some fiction, and settled on Snow Crash.

I've also posted links in the side column to two local radio stations - KEXP and C89.5. They both offer free streams over the Internet. Check them out.

That's the news up to the minute. I'll be spending the rest of the weekend at the 9th annual Microsoft Puzzle Hunt - solving some of the world's toughest puzzles with a team of some of the world's smartest puzzle solvers, competing against hundreds of the world's other smartest puzzle solvers. I can't wait ;-). Some of the puzzles from PuzzleHunt II (2000) are online if you wanna check em out.

The Microsoft-sponsored College Puzzle Challenge also starts next week for students at Columbia, Cornell, MIT, University of Michigan, USC, University of Texas, and University of Toronto. One of my coworkers is taking the whole week off to go back to school to recruit and run the Challenge. Lucky bastard!