James O'Neill's Blog

February 9, 2010

Safer Internet day

Filed under: Internet Explorer,Security and Malware,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 8:06 am

I don’t often paste things from senior Microsoft folks into my blog, but I’d like to quote some things from our managing director here in the UK, Gordon Frazer

February 9th marks Safer Internet Day, a vital drive to promote a safer internet for all users, especially young people.

For the second year in a row, Microsoft subsidiaries across Europe are organizing employee volunteering activities for Safer Internet Day 2010. Through local partnerships with NGOs, schools, customers and partners, around 650 Microsoft employees in 24 subsidiaries will train more than 50,000 people on online safety. Last year Microsoft UK educated 12,000 young people and 2000 parents in online safety

Through an accident of scheduling I’m going to be using one of the volunteering days Microsoft gives me today, but for a different cause.  Volunteering days are one of the distinct pluses about working at Microsoft and its great to see colleagues supporting things like this. I’ve also maintained for a long time when a company is Microsoft’s size it brings some responsibilities with it, and the protection of children has been an area we have concentrated on since before I joined the company 10 years ago.

We are part of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and Gordon’s mail also said This year as part of the “Click Clever Click Safe” campaign UKCCIS will be launching a new digital safety code for children– “Zip It, Block It, Flag It”.  Over 100 Microsoft volunteers will be out in schools in the UK teaching young people and parents alike about child online safety and helping build public awareness for simple safety tips.

Our volunteering activities today mark our strong commitment to child online safety. Online safety is not only core to our business, as exemplified by particular features in Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) and our work in developing the Microsoft Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS) which helps law enforcement officials collaborate and share information with other police services to manage child protection cases, but it is also an issue that our employees, many parents themselves, take very seriously. As a company we put a great deal of faith in our technology, however, we are also aware that the tools we provide have to be used responsibly. 

Indeed. I said in something else I was writing that there is an old phrase describing user issues  “PEBCAK  Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard”, and technology – however good – is no substitute for user education. We have a page of advice which you might find obvious but could be helpful to share with  friends and family that have children active online http://www.microsoft.com/uk/citizenship/safeandsecure/parentadvice/default.mspx

IE8 provides the best protection out there, and the Child Exploitation and On-line Protection Centre (CEOP) have launched their own branded version of it which provides ease of reporting access for young people www.ceop.gov.uk/ie8, which again may be worth installing at home if you have children or passing on to Friends and Family who are running older versions of IE.

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

October 22, 2009

A uniquely good day to be at Microsoft

Filed under: Windows 7,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 10:35 pm

I don’t think you can have missed that today was the day Windows 7 became generally available. I’ve been trying to come up with some unique angle on this for a blog post and not getting anywhere. Two thoughts related thoughts I will share.

The first: sometimes on these occasions the press turn up and try to interview employees: since I am press-trained I can talk to them, and as I was driving to the office this morning I wondered what sound bite I’d come out with. “This place is always on a high when we release new products and seeing reaction Windows 7 has been getting we’re on a higher high than usual”. I wondered how I could bring in Server 2008 R2, or the upcoming “2010” releases apart from ending with “and we ain’t done yet.”

The last thing I did before leaving the office was to read a mail from our director: it doesn’t deserve to be broken up for quotes, but it would be rude to publish it all. He called out the story that Amazon said pre-orders were its biggest ever outstripping the last Harry Potter , and 500 people queued up outside PC world’s flagship store to get their copy at midnight. He called out the positive press that the Register has given 7, they’re not known for being pro Microsoft. And he called out the groundswell of positive customer feeling which 7 has (My personal favourite is the Vox-pop of twitter comments running on the Microsoft.com home page). And he said “It’s easy for old lags like me to become cynical and start believing the [Negative press we get]”  ,before talking about the how he felt re-energized by the arrival of 7. I’m staring down the barrel of a 10 year service award so I’m an “old lag” myself and know exactly what he means.  His final words were “There is no better place to be today”, and from a director that’s a sentence which should usually be treated with the same cynicism as , let’s say, “People are our greatest asset”. But this time … I’ve never agreed with him more.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 12, 2009

My enduring love for OCS .. and a Nice windows 7 feature

My job as an evangelist focuses on Windows platform (client and Server OS), including management (i.e. PowerShell) and Virtualization. But there are other Microsoft products which from my day to day use of them I feel evangelical about. One is Windows Live Writer which is the best tool for composing blog posts that I’ve found. Word can do blog posts, but somehow writer feels better suited to the task.

I used to do a lot with office Communications server (and I’ve written sections for both of its resource kits), but it’s a long time since I wrote about it here. I’ve been using the voice parts of it for well over  a year. I use it from home (and it’s spooky making calls from communicator to communicator with, for example , Eileen – because you hear the background sounds and acoustics). But I’ve never used it from outside the UK…

I started putting this post together at the end of a scuba holiday: one of the best value live-aboard boats I know sails from the Bahamas and I used up my air miles for the flight – the family stayed at home and left me to it. Orange don’t even list the Bahamas on their roaming page and, although my phone can see the Cell phone provider for the islands It won’t join the network. Yes, I call home from abroad using my company issued phone – the idea being the old one of work/life balance: each intrudes on each other but not unreasonably so. A couple of quid on a short phone call to say the sharks didn’t eat me in exchange for giving up holiday/family time to clear the backlog of mail is part of that balance. Still. I had no phone here, just free internet access. “OK…” I though lets give communicator a try. It works as well as phoning from inside the office; which was a surprise given that the internet connection was none too fantastic.

This gave me a chance to fire up the new Windows 7 resource monitor and have a look at exactly what communicator was doing. The 131 network address is Redmond and handles all the SIP traffic (call set up, and Instant Messaging) and the 213 address is in Dublin and carrying voice, although decent call quality is supposed to need latency of less than 100ms I was finding 200ms on a transatlantic call pretty darn good. And the bandwidth , averaged over a minute it’s about 2KB per second send and receive. I did a double take at that, but that’s bytes, so 16 Kbits per sec, which doesn’t require top notch broad band.

 

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

September 4, 2008

It’s not about computation, it’s connection and visualization

Filed under: General musings,Photography,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 1:10 pm

Yesterday Microsoft UK had its company conference in Brighton, and I always have mixed feelings about these affairs. We transported 1000 people 100 miles and told and with no sense of irony whatsoever we told them about what the company was doing about the environment, showed them a video of the office they had led behind and showed them clips of Microsoft people telling them what it was like to work at Microsoft. I’ve been involved in enough events of my own to feel some sympathy for the organizers. What is informative to one person might seem insultingly obvious to someone else. What one person finds riveting makes someone else want to gnaw their own leg off. There are occasions where you need to gather the whole company together and yet when you make attendance mandatory, people think "They wouldn’t need to make it mandatory if people wanted to go".

But at most of these events there is a segment where you turn to a colleague afterwards and say "that was worth coming for". For a lot of people where I was sitting the speaker who had that effect was an external one, Sir Mark Grundy. It’s an odd thing, still, to see a head teacher get a knighthood: Grundy got his for turning round a pair of schools in the Midlands; but I suspect it was more than just having a good plan and executing on it. The guy believes in something: "I’ve never met a pupil who came to school to fail" was one thing he came out with – he’s very articulate and his passion comes through when he speaks. But for us the big thing was the difference technology made to his business: he talked about teenagers and threw out the question "why is life at home so connected (messenger, Email, even Xbox live) but when kids come to school we expect them to be happy to be told to open a book and copy out a diagram", so his student portal is a way of linking students together (and shutting students out of it has become one of his best disciplinary tools) . Since he gets how important it is to have parents on side – he’s got a portal to show them information too – from PerformancePoint among other sources. And other heads ask him why the providers who deliver their services can’t do that. But this idea of taking a lot of … stuff and using the power of software to make sense of it carried on he had a love of Deep-zoom (and got a good laugh when he said he liked the old name, Sea-Dragon "Did someone on work experience choose the new name ?"), and Photosynth. And another Deep zoom-like product (I’m not sure the base IS deep zoom) and that’s PPTPlex (watch the videos there to get some idea). It was the first time I’d seen someone use it on stage, and it was enough of a spur to get me to install it when I got home, and if you’re attending any of my events in the near future I may experiment with it.
I’d planned to do a photosynth of the area round the royal pavilion so I whizzed off at lunch time and shot that. I have the details that I can find in there. Which came back to one of Sir Mark’s points : this is the kind of technology kids should be getting exposed to and if not, ask "why not ?"

Indeed.

 

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

IE 8 testing – part 2

Filed under: Beta Products,Internet Explorer,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 11:15 am

image One of the things about a new browser is that various web sites expect particular ID strings to identify browsers they know and get awkward if they don’t recognize the browser ID. So one of the nice things in IE 8 beta 2 is that you can select compatibility mode for particular sites and send the string which says "I am IE 7."

I’ve mentioned a few times that Microsoft has quite a sophisticated set of benefits; employees get to check their payslip on line, and wouldn’t you know it… the payroll system is outsourced and is one of those sites which keels over if confronted with a new browser (actually that makes sense – you don’t want to assume a previously unknown browser will render all your columns correctly when it’s showing people what’s been added to or removed from parts of their pay).

So a quick tip-of-the-hat is due to our finance people.Within a couple of days of beta 2 going live they warned there was a problem. And in some companies that would be it. Want to see your payslip, don’t run beta software. Not here: they went and tested it and came back with the conclusion that, yes IE8 works just fine in IE7 mode, and with instructions on how to configure it. And after my notes on people’s bad mail habits they even sent it out with an opening sentence which lets you triage it correctly: bin it (I don’t use on-line payroll or IE 8) , Act on it now (I’ve just installed IE8 and I use the on-line payroll) or file it for the future (I use on-line payroll, and I’m going to try IE8 sometime)

I said before that letting users put the latest versions of software on their machines before IT have tested everything is the Microsoft way, but it wont’ work for many companies. Notice also that by empowering people in this way, finance deal with issues involving a finance application; I’ve been to companies where this would get stuck between finance and IT for weeks. Getting the testing done up front, involving internal customers (pilot users) and recording the problems and fixes, IS something that everyone can and should do, starting with the sites where you either don’t control the client (that’s outward facing sites where your customers go) or the server (that’s partner/extranet sites where your people go).  This is also one of those cases where using sharepoint to create a Wiki works, because the same people -pilot users -  have both questions and have answers to share. (See Raymond for why Wikis and the like fail )

 

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

August 28, 2008

Mail stress.

Filed under: Exchange,General musings,Outlook,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 1:15 pm

Click for full size image I started typing this blog post at 07:21. Outlook has already received the first 50 items of the day. Most of which were from night-owls in the US, a few from Asia/Pacific, and only a couple from European insomniacs. Yesterday it pulled down at least 426. I know this because yesterday I set up 3 new search folders. I’m not 100% sure when search folders came into Outlook – and which version of Exchange they need behind them, but they’re a useful feature – particularly for the "where are all the huge mails which are taking me over my quota" and the like. A few weeks ago Microsoft IT doubled the size of my mailbox so I’ve got a huge deleted Items folder at the moment – 8000+ items. But that means the except for items which I "shift deleted", all my mail is in still there somewhere. 2026 from last week 1139 since Monday of this week.

This is ridiculous. I am up at 7 in the morning to do mail. I sent a mail at 0:05 this morning. And this is not just a "Look at how hard I have to work post". The modern working environment is doing this to lots of people – the problem is worse than average at Microsoft, but it’s not confined to us either.

In an 8 hour day there are 480 working minutes. If I just did mail for those 480 minutes each of those messages would have had 68 seconds. That’s 68 seconds to read and action it if I did nothing else all day. I’m not a slow reader, and many of those mails can’t be read in 68 seconds. For quite a large percentage I can’t work out what the person sending them actually wants to happen as a result with 68 seconds…

What does all this mean…

  • Mail makes mediocre meeting manners. Eileen tries to ban laptops from meetings. But how many times do I go to a two hour meeting and find everyone has their laptop open and is trying to multi-task doing mail ? Why ? Because at peak times of the day when you get back to your desk after 2 hours there can be 100 new messages. If you can delete the junk and deal with the ones which are read and file/forward/or reply with one word – leaving the "go-back-to" ones for later – the classic triage – then you’re no so behind when you get back. (Of course the meeting wouldn’t be two hours if people could actually express themselves clearly, and not just vomit everything into Powerpoint, but that’s another story).
  • Mail mountains mean missed matters. I’ve had several incidents recently of missing something and having someone plaintively cry "But I sent you a mail about it 2 weeks ago" . This will get the reply. "I’ve had over 4,000 mails since then. What made you think yours would be remembered ?"
  • Ballooning Bystander syndrome. Mail a big enough group of people and everyone will assume that someone else will do it. Eileen recently had had cause to grumble that none of our team had volunteered to contribute at an event. The organizer had sent a diary placeholder to a huge group. She didn’t ask for help. If it had occurred to anyone that speakers and so on were needed they probably thought someone else would volunteer: that’s the Bystander effect.
  • Selfish Senders Suffer Silence. This is linked to the bystander effect and is actually a bit childish: if you don’t ask nicely I won’t help you. The classic "selfish sender" in Microsoft is one who mails to technical Discussion lists. "Here is a screen shot / log file of my problem , please tell me how to fix it " . No explanation of what was done, and no text description "It said Error 4096 had occurred – there are no fettlable widgets in this container". Mail clients on phones usually don’t download bitmaps, and Outlook Voice Access can’t process them. Blind readers can’t with screen reading software can’t read them either. I can only answer the question if I’m at my PC. If I’m somewhere else.. [DELETE]. So if the message is archived, it won’t be found if someone searches for the error in future.  Not the people who send these messages would check an archive anyway, but the next person to hit the problem will have no choice but mail their question out to the whole list. Those mails get the [SHIFT]-[DELETE] treatment (I don’t even keep them in deleted items.).

Next week I’m presenting on "Microsoft’s vision for unified communications" and I’m sure some of these will creep in. And the mail count for this morning is now past 100.

Update It’s 22:44. 15 hours into my day.  8 hour work days belong in fairy stories. Message number 407 of the day just arrived. Chillingly, George sent two mails at 21:22 and 21:31 – the latter had a reply within 6 minutes (from a UK person) and the former has grown into a 5 message thread (again all UK people).

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

August 16, 2008

Cars, jobs, and retailing. Why belief matters

Filed under: General musings,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 4:12 pm

A few days ago now, I ordered the replacement for my company car. If you don’t live in the UK, it’s probably news to you that our tax system means that many people get a car and fuel as part of their salary. Those who qualify at Microsoft get to choose between a car with fuel paid for, money and fuel or just money. Even allowing for tax (which is based on a formula using the list price of the car and it’s CO2 emissions rating) – it’s not possible to run a newish car for same money.

When I joined Microsoft in 2000, I took the lease car and sold my beloved Citroen XM. I looked up its CO2 rating: 246g/KM. In "old money" that means it glugged down an imperial Gallon of petrol every 27 miles. Its huge tank would now cost over £100 to fill.  These days Microsoft won’t lease me a car with a CO2 figure above 220g/KM (that’s 30MPG for Petrol  and 34MPG for Diesel). My 2005 car has a rating of 157g/KM (it takes 47 Miles to sip it’s way through a Gallon of Diesel);  According to the AA the cost of fuel has nearly doubled in the last 8 years, but I’m using not much more than half the volume of it, so the value of my company fuel has remained the same. Microsoft hasn’t changed the allowances for each of the bands in the scheme since I joined: but a change in leasing companies has brought the Citroen I want this time round into reach – the previous company quoted 15% more to provide it. That’s like getting a pay rise without the company having to pay me any extra. It’s not the first time they’ve done that, introducing nursery vouchers  a few years ago was the same.

This will be my 7th Citroen in 20 years. I do wonder about that loyalty. I tried a BMW which matches the Citroen for power beats it on acceleration and leaves it in the dust on fuel consumption. I calculated Horse Power/C02 rating for all the cars in the lease company’s spreadsheet:  BMW dominated the top of this table. Even their X5 "Chelsea Tractor" can sneak under the 220g/KM barrier when in diesel from. So efficient are BMW diesels that the Sunday Times though it would be a wheeze to pit a 520d against a Toyota Prius on an economy run to Geneva: the Prius used more fuel. I had to applaud the BMW as an exercise in engineering excellence – and its CO2 figure would have saved a chunk of tax, but I never liked it. Just as I like the way that Pentax make cameras, I like the way Citroen make cars.

After my trip to Seattle some of the things that Simon Sinek said continue to resonate… Do Citroen (and Pentax) stand for something ? Maybe, but I can’t articulate the beliefs behind the brands. Maybe BMW stands for something I can believe in, but I haven’t found it. I guess Simon would say that a sense of shared belief is the root of loyalty which leads me to spend more (after tax) on the Citroen…  though they seem to be undermining that with  UK marketing for the new C5 saying, in effect "You could mistake it for an Audi A4": I’ve nothing against Audi – this ad of theirs shows someone who wouldn’t buy the product, as a way to invite others to share the beliefs of the brand (ask yourself what car the guy in their ad would buy… maybe that’s what put me off BMW). But if I want an Audi, I know where to get one.

But there’s more to this. I’ve raved about Robert Townsend’s Up the Organization, and in several places he talks about McGregor’s "Theory Y"  (which is actually a repackaging of "Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs" ) Theory X says  the average person won’t naturally  work towards organisational objectives: they need to be pushed: only money (or the threat of taking their secure income away) can motivate them.  Theory Y says the opposite – people want to be involved in their work, to believe in what they do, to use their imagination, ingenuity and creativity. Sadly, I see a lot of theory X behaviour from IT departments. Maslow’s hierarchy had 5 levels: at the base of the pyramid are Physiological needs- you need  to be able to breathe, have enough to eat, basic warmth and shelter. Then came safety- freedom from fear, anxiety and chaos (things that cause stress)… Most of us have heard (or said) "They don’t pay me enough for this kind of stress".  Money matters, but there comes a point where people prefer job security and less stress to more money. Given enough money and a reasonable security, Maslow said people’s next need was "belonging and love": to be part of community. I’ve twice linked to Thomas Kuhn’s “The structure of scientific revolutions”. and its idea that communities share beliefs. What does a leader do in business (or politics or anywhere else) but set out their beliefs and encourage people to unite behind them ? (See my post about Ray Ozzie)   The upper echelons of a company can’t be filled entirely with leaders: Simon gave us a fantastic sound bite "Vision without execution is hallucination", you need great operations people who can realize the vision. At the peak of Maslow’s pyramid is Self Actualisation – what humans can be – they must be. And thinking back to Simon, he talked about Microsoft’s  "Your potential …" tag line and of course what’s good about it- when you drill into it – is that it appeals to people’s desire for Self-Actualisation.

I’ve said in a couple of presentations Success in a knowledge economy depends on getting more than your share of the smart people. We have to sell jobs to people: Microsoft salaries are nothing special, because it does such good job on the higher levels people are willing to accept them [and if people complain about pay, their part of the business is probably not satisfying the needs higher up the pyramid] .

So here’s a thought: Do we only want these things from job ? The same upper level things community, esteem, self actualisation have the important roles when people have some choice in a purchasing decision.  Buying this product (or not buying that one) , shopping in one place rather than another says something about who we are and lets us buy our way into a community. Ford owners aren’t a community, Alfa-Romeo owners are; some people buy a prestige marque like BMW to meet their esteem needs. Buying CDs at Tesco doesn’t say anything about you, buying Second Hand LPs from a little backstreet shop does. Which brings me back to Simon’s idea that businesses should be looking for customers who buy its approach as much as it’s product. 

I’ve mentioned Nicki and Mark, my friends who run a small independent bookshop, Mark wrote recently about being wound up by a piece on the radio because the interviewer, it seems, thinks that all that mattered in selling books is price. The representative for the independent booksellers said suggested that "we need a mechanism that rewards honest bookselling, not just fulfillment". But what mechanism *is* that ?  Mark knows – it’s about the market, the local market – a small book shop doesn’t have to go highbrow to succeed. His advice to anyone who wants to follow him: "understand your local environment, marketplace, customers – listen to them, work with them, put on great events, develop a community, give them an excellent experience – and the enterprise can flourish."

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

July 29, 2008

Systems of belief … and Ray Ozzie.

Filed under: General musings,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 11:21 pm

My colleague Orlando has a thankless task. We have our big training event this week and Orlando has the job of pulling together the "summit" for evangelists the weekend before the event. Past summits have made it difficult to believe in the value of these events. No one wants to give up family time for an event which turns out to be all fluff. "It was worth giving up a Sunday with my family for that" is a pretty high bar to set. Orlando achieved that level by bringing in Simon Sinek, who was the best external speaker I’ve heard for ages (I don’t like to say "The best I’ve ever heard", but as I’ve typed and edited this post I’ve failed to think of a better one).

Simon talked about the idea that companies talk too much about WHAT our products do, and talk too little about WHY we created those products – the beliefs that underpin them. He did the thing that great teachers often do – taking two things that were already in your head and link them together in a new way. For example companies which have good leaders set an ethos which everyone in the company follows – if you don’t believe in the power of software to enable people to do more, for example, you shouldn’t be working for Microsoft. Apple has values and beliefs too – which are more about individuality and overturning the established order. If the leadership of the company sets a clear set of values which the whole company follows it buy into, and articulates that it attracts more than just the people who want the product (the what) but people who also share those values and beliefs – who will buy the product if it is more expensive or lacks a feature. It fits quite well with Hugh’s "The market for something to believe in is infinite". Simon used the example of an airline who thinks, because he has flown with them several times that he is a loyal customer: he loathes them, yet they spend money wooing him because he is a serial customer.  One of the questions that we threw to Simon was would Bill Gates passing the baton on make a difference to Microsoft’s standing  – and the answer, obviously enough, was  only if it results an change of values…

In Monday’s key note for the event proper, I saw Ray Ozzie for the first time. His session included some great product stuff which we’re not allowed to talk about – announcements will come over the next few months – but he didn’t just show the what. He took time to explain who he was and his own personal why. He did a long list of loves and hates, but this list of things the thinks that he put up was more direct.

1. Constraints are empowering

2. Accept threats as resignations

3. Never follow; either leapfrog or stop

4. Diversity means survival

5. Don’t tolerate intolerance

6. Strategy and architecture are inseparable

7. Short and direct earns respect

8. Delaying the inevitable inevitably backfires

9. A re-org will never cure what ails you

10. You needn’t be an #%@hole to get things done

 

And I looked at these, and thought,  here’s a guy who thinks pretty much like I do.  And I looked around the room and saw thousands  of people who were thinking much the same.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

May 29, 2008

Off topic. The Cost of fuel, market forces and being green

Filed under: General musings,Mobility,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 2:39 pm

Part of my salary package working at Microsoft UK is a company car, for which Microsoft buys the fuel. I can opt out of this scheme and take money instead (which is taxed like any other Salary payment) and the Tax office also works out the notional value of the car and fuel (both are based on the C02 emissions of the car)- the critical thing is that this doesn’t change with the amount of fuel I use, or the price of fuel. In effect the cost of fuel to me is fixed however many miles I do; which gives me a financial incentive to use the car rather than greener forms of transport. It also takes away any financial incentive I have to work from home and when I do it is based on productivity and work/life balance (if anything is going to hinder my getting the job done, better that it’s my son asking what I’m doing on the computer than the hubbub in our hotdesk pens)

Last night on the way home I stood idly calculating the price of fuel per (imperial) Gallon, we’ve been buying fuel in litres in the Britain for 20 years now but we still think of fuel consumption in miles per gallon, like my grandmother converting prices into Shillings to the day she died (10 years after currency went decimal) we still go back to pricing in Gallons. The little display on the pump last night said 132.9 pence per litre; as the displays ticked round to  64 litres and £85, I tried to multiply 132.9 by 4.54 to get price per Gallon. "Call it 4/3 x 4.5 … thats £6 a gallon !"… " now without the rounding is that just over or just under ?" Queuing to pay I got my phone out and used the calculator £6.03. For readers in the US, your gallons (and pints) are 20% smaller than ours,and with the pound at $1.97 that makes UK diesel abut $9.50 per US Gallon (Petrol/Gasoline is about 10% cheaper)

For the at least the last 10 years, governments have been raising the cost of fuel above the rate of inflation to try to encourage us to use less of it. (I don’t want to get into party politics here, I think the Conservatives started it and Labour thought it was a good idea and continued the policy). There are now differential rates of Vehicle Excise Duty on based on emissions. Those who think of their fuel in gallons remember when this flat rate tax was called the "Road-Fund licence" but for years governments have been using fuel and VED as a way of raising money to pay for anything but roads. I’ve heard politicians from all the main parties arguing for huge rates of VED for the most polluting cars. Since I have a "clean-diesel" which does about 50 Miles to the Gallon it doesn’t affect me, and in any event as a company car driver I’m insulated from rates of VED, so I have no particular interest to turn me against such a plan. But  like calling for extra taxes on "The rich", it’s easy politically: if you hit people at one extreme you don’t hit the other 95% of people who might vote for you. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to see that someone whose car only does 20 Miles per gallon but only drives 40 Miles a week, uses less fuel than someone whose car does 50 to the Gallon but drives 400. Should they pay tax on fuel used or on their vehicle’s potential to pollute ? Increasing the cost of owning an inefficient car might result in some of them being scrapped early – which takes money out of the economy, and results in more demand to manufacture new cars – a process which also uses a lot of energy.  Logic would say scrap VED entirely and raise the same amount of tax from extra fuel duty. Those who use less fuel than average would be better off, those who use more would be worse off. The whole government bureaucracy dealing with VED could be scrapped (saving more money) and the VED tax disk could be replaced with something issued the car’s insurers to show it’s paperwork was all in order.  The political problem with such a policy is that everybody sees their fuel price go up and has to pay more every week, reminding them the government has done something unpleasant.

The key, of course, is to find ways to make fewer journeys. and to use more efficient forms of transport for the ones we do make. As someone wrote
"Here in my Car,
I feel Safest of all,
I can lock all  my doors,
it’s the only way to live,
In cars"

Of course he it might not have scanned so well to say "I can pick my nose" , "I can shout at the radio" , "I can listen to music without headphones" , "I can set the temperature to what I want" etc. Some of us might be priced out of our cars and into using car-shares or public transport. But if we didn’t all go to the office every day, the office could be smaller and the saved Journeys would save money, time and pollution. Think of that next time you curse the traffic or the cost of filling up.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

May 24, 2008

Top travel tip. Use the calendar. Properly

Filed under: Events,General musings,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 4:53 pm

One of the things that we noticed on the roadshow was the *much* better system for getting us feedback (see here and here oh and here ) and – always looking for ways to improve our processes – a couple of us noted that there’s a big document mailed out with the event information for the presenters, but when we pull out our phones the calendar appointment doesn’t have the location of the event in it. Each of the presenters has to copy the information out of the document and paste it into the calendar. None does. We try not to print stuff which we can see on a laptop, and we don’t want to get a laptop out to program the sat-nav. So next time hopefully we’ll get two appointments, one with the Hotel and it’s address, and one with the venue and it’s address.

Putting data in the Calendar has two advantages. (1) It’s sync’d and always with me (2) Everyone has read access to my Calendar. So anyone can find where I am in an Emergency.

In July I’m off to Seattle and I booked my flights on Friday, a year ago I wrote about the stupidity of our Travel booking process and things haven’t got any better. Our Travel agent send the itinerary as a copy-protected PDF. Why on earth they can’t send me flight details in ICS / VCS format beats me. So the process is print PDF to XPS, Open XPS, select, copy , paste, reformat.

Clearing out my Inbox I came to the mail marked "Save the date". Now when I meet the person who sent this I’m going to give them the verbal equivalent of a gentle Slap. For 10 years Microsoft has used outlook. For 5 years before that we had 5 years of Schedule+, I can only assume he’s new and doesn’t know that to save a date you send a calendar request. The sender compounds the offence by putting the date and venue details in as a bitmap – not text – so its not sync’d to a phone and not read by Outlook Voice Access. So 350 people have to take a couple of minutes each typing all their own calendar requests: that adds up to a working day wasted. Or maybe they won’t bother and will be wandering round Seattle looking lost.

In all 3 cases I’m left asking – why am I the one doing this ?

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

May 16, 2008

On knowing your sh*t

Filed under: Exchange,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 8:43 am

It’s been an interesting few days, Monday was the Glasgow road-show event and Thursday was our day in Newcastle. The team didn’t look upon flying with any great enthusiasm. So rather than returning home, drawing breath and heading North again we decided to stop en-route for an extra day and night: since we’d missed off-site event that the rest of our group had to spend time doing team stuff and thinking about goals for the financial year that starts on July 1st, we used the time for that – while enjoying some of the best countryside the UK has to offer. It was time well spent and  – thinking as a shareholder – I was glad to see a reasonable chunk of money saved (not quite so glad that a quirk of our expense policy means I’m paying a little of the cost myself) 

And so to Newcastle; we’ve visited Newcastle twice and got a good reception both times so it’s a place I’m glad to come back to. (Some audiences seem pleased  that we bother going to them at all. London audiences expect us to go there and are the hardest to please.) Instead of being Travel weary, we were in a good frame of mind and delivered the best event we’ve done on this trip. Last time we were in Newcastle  Jonathan Noble met us and we ended up entering a pub quiz (and got close to winning!), so we gave him the task of finding another one and were joined by half dozen more "community" people. The quiz was fun and we might have won it, but we came in a contented third. There was an end-of-evening Jackpot prize for a one-off question: 25p to buy a slip, a £100 prize and one question asked after the slips were sold. The question. What are coprolites ?

Some years back a friend of mine – another of the Davids – bought the board game of Who wants to be a Millionaire ? Being on a few people’s phone-a-friend list I did fairly well and found myself at the "£1,000,000" question. It was "What date was the battle of Hastings" – everyone assumes 1066, but not what year, but what day-of-the-year.  I’d once sent my Dad a birthday card which said on the outside "Do you know what day it is ?" and on the inside I’d written "The 925th anniversary of the battle of Hastings ? ", because he (and Mrs Thatcher if I remember correctly) both have the day of the battle as their birthday. So when the answers were  "13th of August" , "13th of September", "13th of October", or "13th of November" it was too easy. While we’re on battles and anniversaries a different David celebrates wedding anniversary on Trafalgar day. I don’t know how this stuff sticks in my head, but it’s a useful trait for a technical chap.

I don’t know why I know about Coprolites. But I do know they’re fossilized dinosaur droppings. Whether to para-phrase something from the film broken arrow I don’t know if I was more surprised that dinosaur poo CAN be fossilized, or that it is common enough that we have a word for it it . So £100 came my way. One Geordie – a good 20 years my senior – asked me with a huge grin on his face if "that means you know a lot about old sh*te" quite a few Microsofties would say that was a fair description.  I told my daughter about football that "you win as a team or lose as a team" and I didn’t think of the prize as my money.  The winning team in the main quiz  put their prize in the Pub’s charity boxes (RNLI and RNIB) and when I suggested that we do the same, all of my team agreed. It might be the first time our charity matching scheme has been presented with a pub receipt to support a claim – all being well the two charities should get £50 each; and that still doesn’t wipe out the money we saved.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

May 8, 2008

On Ninjas.

Filed under: Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 12:46 pm

andrew2 Over the weekend one of the many Davids I count among my friends mailed me a curious job title from his organization. Yesterday, in one of those moments of serendipity Viral told me about one of the guys in Redmond who has the job title of "Zune Ninja" – he explains how the the title came about here. A while back I mentioned Tom Lehrer, and Plagiarize. Viral’s good friend James Senior is the one whose name is cursed, when we found out he published first.

So while we’re on Ninjas, I should say that when I drew the team cartoons using Janina Köppel’s Excellent SP-Studio I couldn’t find a way to capture Andrew so I tried doing him as SQL Ninja. This seems like a good time for that cartoon to come to light.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

April 4, 2008

Who says health and safety people have no sense of humour ?

Filed under: General musings,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 3:36 pm

This from a colleague who says her team’s blog is far to serious for this kind of Friday afternoon frivolity.

I was walking through [Microsoft UK Building 5]  lobby and saw one of our maintenance guys putting up a display box with a sword in it. I stopped and asked him about it. It is an award from the British Safety Council and what’s more, the display box they supplied was not up to standard and had to be modified so it wouldn’t fall down and hurt someone. I would have loved to have been at the meeting when they decided what the award should be. I imagine it went something like this:

Bob the H&S guy:             Let’s commission a plaque made of a soft, flexible material with rounded edges: it will be really safe and reinforce our message.

Max the marketer:          Nah, let’s give ‘em a sharp sword in a dangerous box

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

February 10, 2008

Who makes a good decision ?

Filed under: General musings,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 11:50 pm

I provided Eileen with a quote to use in the Management Excellence programme she’s been involved in.  She called me a "Non-manager who championed management Excellence", and I replied I was "in favour of all kinds of Excellence*. My view was summed up in the quote

If you can’t do it excellently, don’t do it at all. Because if it’s not excellent it won’t be profitable or fun, and if you’re not in business for fun or profit, what the hell are you doing here?

The quote is from Robert Townsend’s Up the Organization and the bit in bold was on the cover of the original version.

I think managers divide into Organizational people and Leaders. Townsend was a leader, but companies need both types. This set Eileen and I off into talking about Myers Briggs – which is a classification system we use on some of our soft skills training. It uses 4 axes: Introvert <–> Extrovert ,  Sensing <–> iNtuiting, Thinking <–> Feeling, Judging <–> Perceiving. Based on the letters (initials, except for iNtutiting which gets the N) people get to a shorthand . You could be an INTP, an ESFP or …you can work out the combinations.

Like Strengthsfinder (which we also use), or more whimsical tests or other, coarser, classifications (gender, age, cultural background), these divisions aren’t good/bad or suitable/unsuitable. The Equal Opportunities Commission had a good slogan Women. Men. Different. Equal.  Classifications can help us to understand and predict a little more accurately what people do in difficult situations.With people who are too similar you’ll get similar answers which may not be the best for the circumstances (hence my view that diversity isn’t something patronizing we do for the benefit of the different groups, but something we do for the strength of the company). Sometimes it seems as if we are trying to build hugely complicated taxonomies to classify people or perhaps that we see behaviour as something like a very complicated, undocumented, computer program for which we’re trying to discover the input parameters.

I have another axis which, rather politically incorrectly, I call Apparatchik vs Autistic. "Autisitism" isn’t a term one should throw around too freely, it is a spectrum which runs from little more than a personality trait, all the way to serious disorder. Surveys I’ve done suggest that I’m on the spectrum (not unusual in this business) and a few people think I have Asperger’s syndrome – though having done some reading I don’t think so.  So my use of the term is not out of disrespect to those with more serious forms of autism but because one of its characteristics is a failure to understand the world, and see why some things must be the way they are.  Apparatchik is almost as dangerous a term to use, but I can’t find a better one for people who live within the system and believe that everything should be the way it is. There is a famous "Serenity prayer" asking for "grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other". The "Apps" are short on courage to change things, and the "Auts" long on short on serenity to accept things, it’s a rare person who has them both in balance and even they aren’t necessarily granted the wisdom to tell the difference.

As the Vista SP-1 saga unfolded last week I quoted the famous “Colin Powell on Leadership”"Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off." is one of the key points; in the body it says "Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity"; but it’s also the "living within the system" mentality of the excessively apparatchik . The right thing regardless of what people think is the mentality of the excessively autistic. The word SOMETIMES in the quote is important; the person who always gets people mad is a lousy leader, and the person who never gets people mad is no leader at all. As I said in a post yesterday (which I wrote while this was in draft) I pulled out the quote that "Real leaders are  vigilant, and combative" over things that have an adverse impact on their people. Townsend advocates the same thing: in his view purchasing departments "cost ten dollars in zeal for every dollar they save through purchasing acumen." his solution "fire the whole purchasing department". In my world of "apps" and "auts", no  app would come to that conclusion. The implication this has for my classifications is problematic.

This SP-1 business has not been great for the field people. At the root of it, some independent hardware vendors have delivered packages with lousy installation software (the problem isn’t with the drivers themselves) – computer world has a piece on this . Do we go out and name and shame these vendors ? It would be so tempting; and if they got mad we’d just quote Colin Powell at them; it would be only OK to annoy the IHV community (who are our friends and partners) if customers got something out of it, otherwise it’s pointless: would customers get the revised package any sooner if we did this ? No. So we need a different option: should we let the software out and pretend there isn’t a problem ? Hardly the act of a responsible leader is it ? Go ahead with the release to OEMs, set the disk making process running and hold the downloads back ? That’s going to annoy some customers… (computerworld covered that too following Kathy’s post on the Technet plus blog). 

Making the right choices is difficult.. And perhaps we made the wrong one on SP1 (an update to went up yesterday). As a field person in Microsoft, when these cases come up it’s hard to know whether accept what the product group say or fight for changes, or what specifically leaders in the company should be combative against. The the more I think about the vista SP1 case, the more I think all the answers are wrong 

 

* Footnote. Saying you’re in favour of Excellence is a bit like the famous story of the Bishop who was asked for his views on sin. He said he was against it.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 1, 2007

And I get paid for doing this ?

Filed under: General musings,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 7:39 pm

Why do I get fossil fuels. Office, Creche, Film-set ... ?Actually, no. I got bribed with free sandwiches to use my lunch time testing stuff for First lego League.  I didn’t even know we supported these folks, but my colleague Paul Foster does a lot of  work with enthusiast communities like these, in places like robotics. 400 teams of 9-16 year olds participate in the League (with up to 10 in a team that’s a lot of kids). As well as sponsoring them we are looking to provide “mentors” (coaches might be a better word) for some of these teams in the future.

Our team (too old to be allowed to enter the league) spent lunch time putting together bits if the landscape for an a set of energy focused robotics challenges to work their way around – the theme for the challenge is “the power puzzle” so we were building things with an energy theme. Instead of a nice friendly wind farm, Andrew and I got the Oil Rig.

My 3 – nearly 4 – year old son has only been to Microsoft for the children’s Christmas party, and thinks that the office is full of bouncy castles. If I tell him I played with Lego at work today I think he’ll get completely the wrong idea about what “work” really is. Then again when his sister was here on Tuesday someone turned the office into a film set ! 

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

October 24, 2007

Post removed

Filed under: General musings,Linux / Open Source,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 8:24 am

This article has been removed.


The article implied a number of traits about Mr Richard Morrell which are entirely without basis.


I apologise for both the factual inaccuracy and the offence caused to Mr Morrell through this article.


 


 

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

September 10, 2007

Tales from a weekend of PowerShell: Get-Needle -haystack …

Filed under: How to,Powershell,Real Time Collaboration,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 11:29 am

First to explain the title: Sooner or later I will stop banging on about hot-desking and the bedlam which is our office area – last week it did seem to plumb new depths with one team sitting round a speaker phone in the open plan office yelling into a conference call and another playing the flutes/recorders/penny whistles that they were giving away. Hot-desking only works if some people are deterred  from coming into the office, and with the summer holidays over and the house to myself again I can return to my pattern of coming into the office to meet people, and staying at home when I have work to do; and having at least one “car free day” per week.
Working at home, I find it quite hard to not have the laptop on my knee when there’s something I’m only half interested in on the TV. And working to a deadline (like trying to get the PowerShell part of a book done in time for publication) if the laptop is there then work naturally takes over the time that you’ve got nothing better to do. Which is how most of my weekend ended up with PowerShell.

I’ve been doing a lot of work with WMI objects for this project – they have names like MSFT_SIPFederationExternalEdgeListeningAddressSetting  or MSFT_SIPLocalNormalizationRuleData

To try to keep some consistency I typically have functions which go something like this

  • Get-OCSNormalizationRules – returns the all WMI objects for the class we’re interested in.
  • List-OCSNormalizationRules – takes the result of the Get and formats it nicely
  • Export-OcsNormalizationRules – takes the result of Get and outputs selected fields to a CSV file
  • Choose-OCSNormalizationRules – takes the result of the Get makes a menu (and returns the Wmi Objects, so that all the properties are available)
  • New-OCSNormalizationRule – takes parameters needed to build a WMI object
  • Import-OcsNormalizationRules – takes a CSV file and for each entry invokes New
  • Update-OCSNormalizationRule – takes the same parameters as New, uses one to retrieve the WMI object, and the others to update fields in it
  • Delete-OCSNormalization rules – uses the same parameter as Update to retrieve the WMI object and deletes it

Obviously some functions don’t make sense for some of the objects. Choose-OCS Users wouldn’t have an impossible menu. New-OCS ServerPool is done by installing the server, and so on.

One thing that plagued Live Communications server 2005 was mis-configured certificates so we wanted to be able to show what was being use. But where to go to get this information ? – there are a hundred or so WMI classes beginning MSFT_SIP – different ones exist depending on the server role. I’d already got a list potentially interesting classes with

get-wmiobject -list | where-object {$_.__class -like "msft_SIP*"}

So. I thought, why not dump out all of the classes. It’s a bit daft, but if I send it to a text file I can just search for CERT and I’ll find it and here’s the line it took. 

get-wmiobject -list | where-object {$_.__class -like "msft_sip*"} | foreach-object {get-wmiobject -class $_.__class} > temp.txt 

And hey presto 10 seconds in notepad had the reference I was looking for. What I had to do when I got that certificate was a whole other story, which I’ll tell you all about some other time.

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

September 3, 2007

A stapler on every desk and in every home

Filed under: Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 2:28 pm

Not everything about working for Microsoft UK is perfect. I’ve mentioned some of the daft e-mails we get (The ones which use great streams of long words to convey nothing. The “I’m pleased to announce improvements to X” kind, which list 10 things which are now worse about X. Or the ones which are sent with all the accuracy of an unattended fire-hose.) I’ve mentioned what I call the hindrance desk. And the thing that I loathe above all is hot-desking. The worst thing about hot desking is it makes sense. It reduces the office space we need, which saves money, reduces pollution … yada yada yada. It also is a great way of making people feel they don’t belong in the office. And it means that things like Hi-liter pens, post it notes and other stationary that you want aren’t at the desk you sit down at. So every time you want, say, a pencil you go to the stationary cupboard and get one. You might shove it in your bag at the end of the day, but the chances are it will migrate home and stay there. I once rounded up 30 mechanical pencils at home and brought them back to work – it’s useful to have a couple but that many was getting silly.

And, almost no desk has a stapler. This means that those people who have a desk will hide their stapler because if it will quickly stray if left out in the daylight. And anyone trying to attach receipts to an expense claim has embark on an epic quest that would make a self-respecting Hobbit flinch. Back in my days in the dark lands of Mordor Microsoft services, one of my colleagues announced he was a mission to see a stapler on every desk.  That was sufficiently close to the original company mission that it was soon parodied as “A stapler on every desk, and in every home: and that stapler using Microsoft Staples” .

To anyone transferring to the UK from the US ,as Viral has done recently to join our team, the idea of not having a desk to call your own must seem pretty alien. And judging from the title of his blog, so does the idea of not being able to find a stapler. Of course those of us who have remarked on his sartorial elegance think it should be called “DUDE, where’s my stapler”

Welcome, Viral.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

August 2, 2007

Pigs and blogs and Naked dwarves (Part 2)

Filed under: General musings,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 12:33 am

"The Sow borg" by James KelseyI’m back from Seattle, and after my outbound trip, the return was uneventful. I’d hoped to come back with plenty of stuff to blog about but most of what I heard that was interesting is still confidential. Before I left I had time to do “the Walk of Pork”  and check out some more of Seattle’s Pigs on Parade . This one was actually sponsored by Microsoft. Who says we don’t have a sense of humour ? 

One of the side meetings we had in Seattle was a “Bloggers’ town hall meeting”, and the usual subjects came up. A commonly asked question goes “If I can’t write it on a ‘work’ blog can I write it on a ‘personal’ one ?” .  “Ben”, my blog, stalker mailed Eileen (as none@none.com but we have his IP address), because he didn’t think I should post about “business travel rage“; he suggested I get “two blogs; one that deals with IT from a Microsoft angle that I can legitimately read at work and a ‘violence’ blog where we can all get our daily fix of automatic weapons, the ‘red mist'”.  I’m unapologetic that I don’t stick squarely to my technology cluster, but blog interesting things that I come into contact with in my working life. The problem with having multiple blogs is that as soon mention that you work for Microsoft and things that you say will be linked to that if it makes sense. Political issues do have a place on a work blog because policies set by governments affects what we do, but Party politics shouldn’t appear on a company platform. – I want to write “Gordon Brown is a moron” or “Gordon Brown is a genius” a private blog would be the place and no-one is likely to run a headline “Microsoft attacks/praises Prime Minister” as a result. However if I were to write either of those about, say, Steve Jobs, you can see the headline “Microsoft attacks/praises Apple Boss” followed by “A Microsoft employee, writing on his blog said …”  Talking to Steve (Lamb – not Jobs) he thought it was a sad that we can’t have individual freedom of speech because what we say isn’t seen as the speech of individuals. Of course people can blog under a pseudonym  (I quite fancy “Borg-Pig 4/19”); but if you have to guard your anonymity that’s hardly individual freedom of speech either. There are things which might make good posts which I self-censor but so few could go on an out-of-Microsoft blog that I don’t see the point of having one.

It was in the process of explaining the importance of context that a lawyer from our games division told us the following – which he was happy for me to retell. In making modern video games it’s now quite common to make clay sculptures of the characters. These characters are dressed in their costume so that the clothes look right – which matters if the digitized image of the figure appears in the final game; underneath the characters are naked. The characters also need to be seen by people from legal, and during the production of Shadowrun they had to check out the figures of Naked Dwarves, Elves, Humans and Trolls. It was in this context that a lawyer came to demand a naked dwarf in his office. Not that the person who overheard him necessarily understood that at the time …

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

July 27, 2007

Pigs and drugs and naked dwarves …

Filed under: Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 3:46 pm

Yes folks they’re all part of life’s weird tapestry as a British Microsoft employee at a Microsoft event in Seattle.

 After I referred to Snowclones recently it I should point out that blank and drugs and blank blank blank is a snow clone modeled on Ian Dury’s “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll”. Dury said he was from Upminster, where I was born, although according to his Wikipedia entry he was actually actually born in Harrow.  There is a an old joke – based on the stations on London Underground’s district line; “You’ve got mad, Barking Mad, and Upminster”… “Upminster ?” “Serveral stops beyond Barking”.

So what of the Pigs, the Drugs and the naked dwarves ?

First the pigs. Seattle has “Pigs on Parade” going on at the moment and wherever I walk in this city there are fabulous decorated pigs. Microsoft is one of the many sponsors I’m pleased to say.  I’ve been grabbing pictures with the camera on my smartphone when I see them. Here are couple

IMAGE_319.jpg IMAGE_315.jpg

Next the Drugs.  Steve and I have ended up doing some unscheduled research into the American Health Care system. He can tell what happened to him for himself. As for me, well for the last five years or so a prescription drug has helped me lead a bit more normal life than would otherwise be the case. I bought a supply with me to the US. Sometime in the last couple of days I lost it. I’m got going to die or  go “Upminster” for lack of my drug, but withdrawal isn’t fun, and it will need a few days of taking it to again to get back to normal. So I called the emergency number we have for just these kinds of things, got referred to a Doctor who could prescribe me enough to see me home. I had to pay for my own, and at £2.30 per tablet my usual prescription charge of £6.50 for 28 looks a real bargain. Our system works. My phone says I made the call at 3:16, and the receipt from the Pharmacy is timed at 5:40, and more than half the time was spent in or waiting for Taxis. I don’t actually inhabit the kind of World that William Gibson writes about – but it reminded me of the the opening of Count Zero, a few sentences in, it has this “Because he had a good agent, he had a good contract. Because he had a good contract, he was in Singapore an hour after the explosion. Most of him, anyway.”  (The very first sentences of Gibson’s books are often great Count Zero starts “They set a Slamhound on Turner’s trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair”).

But if you’ve read this far, you want to know about the Naked Dwarves.

There are a bunch of memorable quotes from this week. One was Bill Gates talking about PBX’s as Mainframes “an expensive way of doing things in a rigid way”. One was a product manager talking about a product which is still secret, and referring to the next product which is so hush-hush they’ve code named it “Shshhhh”.  (Which reminds me of a programming language called “KEEP”. The developer was asked what KEEP stood for. “It’s not an acronym” he said “I just found a good way not to have people throw program listings away was if the header page said ‘KEEP’ in big letters” ) However the prize for the best single line of the week (and I have permission from someone in Legal to blog this), is the explanation of how a Microsoft employee, in the context of a legitimate business conversation came to shout down the phone to someone “If you don’t get a naked dwarf in my office by this afternoon, I’m coming over there to get one for myself”.

I will explain the context of this … but in another post 🙂

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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