Today, my entire division at Microsoft headed off to the local mountains for a day of skiing and boarding.
Now, normally, I would've jumped at the opportunity to ditch work and hit the slopes. But today was a day I didn't want to miss.
What'd I end up doing today? Well, I went back to school. No, not back to the University of Michigan (brrrrrr!). I went to school (actually, I "got schooled") at Microsoft Research.
With TechFest coming up, a whole bunch of our researchers from around the world have come into town for the week. And today, I had the opportunity to spend over 5 hours listening to short presentations from a bunch of them on a subject very near and dear to my heart: location & software.
Some of the researchers I admire the most were there - John Krumm, for example, who's done a lot of work in the area of location awareness and software (you can read a bunch of his published work on his web site). Scott Counts was there, talking about SLAM and a few of his other projects (more info on SLAM on his web site). Jim Gray was there - you can try reading his papers, but they might make your head spin just a bit.
But, what also made it cool, was that in addition to some of the most brilliant researchers in the world, there were also developers and program managers from various product groups talking about real software applications of this type of technology. Jason Fuller was there from the Windows Mobile team (he builds the Virtual Earth Mobile client as a hobby in his spare time -- who says "20% time" is a Google-only thing!). And of course, the famous Steve Lombardi was there too! Current versions of these guys' products all incorporate some aspect of location (so I feel comfortable blogging about them here today), but perhaps the coolest part was getting a sneak peak at everything coming down the pipeline in the future from various other product groups at the company.
Anyhow, it was one of those days that reminds me why I love working here. Smart, bright people, at the cutting edge of technological innovation, doing research and shipping software that changes the way people all over the world live their lives.