James O'Neill's Blog

May 22, 2007

Doing our bit … but wishing we didn’t have to.

Filed under: Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 10:27 am

One of the pieces of music I have in my car is Anne Clark’s Elegy for a lost summer. One line from this is “Can you feel this pain, and keep your heart unbroken”. I’m the father of a 3 year old, so the coverage from Portugal about Madeleine McCann keeps bringing that line back to me. There is no news and yet to maximize the chances of finding her the story needs to be kept in peoples minds.

One recent development is the police have appealed for photos which might give some clue, over the weekend some of my colleagues worked on putting together the site for pictures to be uploaded, This is being done under the auspices of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) a project which Microsoft has backed.

The only mail I ever sent Steve Ballmer was after Hurricane Katrina. I’d heard a radio report of a mother whose children had been rescued, but she had no idea where they had been taken. I said to Ballmer “Helping people find each other after a disaster is mainly a problem of information, and it is one that can be helped with technology. It’s something where our EXPERTISE can make more of a difference than our money”. And he replied saying we were doing something already – a web site KatrinaSafe went live a few hours later.

I’d love to say what a fantastic company Microsoft is to back these things or what great technology we use but to be honest my heart’s not really in it. Our resources and skills mean we were able to help and I think in that position it is almost a duty to do so, I hope anyone else would have done the same. 

Needless to say we all hope these sites have a very short lifespan

Update if you have your browser set for British English the Microsoft “GB” homepage now has a link to the the Madeleine web site

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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