Archive for July, 2008

Going to my happy place

July 25, 2008 Comments off

It’s been a long day.  2 days.  3 days … week.  We’re doing A LOT of work this week and, unfortunately, we’ve got some dependencies on new circuits being delivered for new/enhanced services to our Baltimore office.  Nothing seems to go well on this trip, and we’ve been running into issues at every turn.

But a few minutes ago I was able to go to my “happy place” because of an email I got … announcing I could check in for my flight home tomorrow evening.

From here on out, no matter what happens, I’ve got my ticket outta here – literally.  😀

Categories: job, travel

Dead man walking

July 25, 2008 Comments off

It’s my last day on the job today; I start at Microsoft on Monday.  The atypical part of the story is, though, that I’m traveling this week and look to be putting in about 80 hours on the clock.  Usually folks check out at the end of their stay … I guess I’m still emotionally invested in making this place successful.

I’m super-tired today, having pulled a couple of 18 hour days and a 12 hour travel day since Tuesday.  Today looks like more of the same (guessing 15+ hours).

As I was walking out to our rental car from the hotel this morning I turned to my good friend and boss Brian and said, “dead man walking.”  Oh how true on at least a couple different levels.

Looking forward to starting my new adventure next week at the same time.  A couple days of official orientation, and then some settling in, etc.  I’m really jumping off a cliff with this change in my career, and that’s both exciting and scary at the same time.  Here’s hoping I remembered the parachute!

Categories: job

Saying something

July 10, 2008 3 comments

I mentioned the other day that I couldn’t say anything… and at the time I couldn’t.  But that’s since changed.  :-)  The first couple days of the week I got to help with a couple ISA Server exam refreshes, so there’s part of the mystery.  And here’s the other part…

I’ll be in the New Employee Orientation session at Microsoft’s Redmond campus on Monday, July 28th.  :-)  I’m joining the Global Foundation Services group to help run the infrastructure behind behind a little program you may have heard of called Live Messenger (it does instant messaging, or “IM” as they say – evidently all the kids are doing it these days).

I’m truly honored and humbled to have even been considered, much less offered a position on the team and with Microsoft.  I’ve always had a goal to work for Microsoft, going all the way back to college (I even interviewed with MS my senior year).  I thought I’d gotten as close to that as I was going to when I spent 2.5 years working at Cascade Investment (I received annual “head-nods acknowledging my existence from Bill Gates during my tenure).

About 6 weeks ago I read a blog post by Dare Obasanjo talking about the availability problems of Twitter of late, and how the architecture decisions they made in the beginning lead to some of their issues today (and limit what they can do to easily resolve them).  At the end of his post he throws in something that really grabbed my attention: “If this problem space sounds interesting to you, we’re hiring. I’m specifically looking for good operations folks.”

That got my mind running … designing and implementing systems at huge scale has always been an area of interest for me, but I’ve never found myself in a spot to actually be doing it.  After a day or so of mulling things over in my mind I bit the bullet and sent an email to a friend who’s been on the Live Operations team (now GFS) for a couple years to get his take on things.  His reply was a shocker: “I work directly with Dare on a current project I would love to have you onboard.”

I don’t know if that was a sign or not, but things sure did go quickly after that.  All told I had about 9 hours of phone calls, lunches, and onsite interview sessions.  These were perhaps the most grueling interviews in my life (I really haven’t interviewed cold for a new job since January 2000), but at the same time it was a lot of fun! 

There’s something to be said for asking someone a demanding question they have no way of knowing the answer to (or maybe there is no answer) and evaluating their thought process, analytical skills, and ability to ask good questions.  The next time I have to interview someone I definitely have to work some of this technique into the mix.

I’ve always heard and known that Microsoft’s interview process is a gauntlet that is exceptionally difficult to pass.  I never thought I’d have what it takes to make it through, especially interviewing for a position that runs such a large-scale system when my background is clearly in the SMB range (small/medium business).  A couple of the folks I spoke with, though, said that if they went looking for people with experience in the scale of systems GFS deals with they wouldn’t be able to find anyone; find a smart person who fits the team and they can learn the details.

So that’s the challenge for me in the coming months … get up to speed on a completely new system, scale, architecture, paradigm.  It’s going to be tough, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work.  But I’m excited for the challenge; to be outside of the comfort zone that I’ve built up over the last 10 years.

I can’t wait to get this next chapter act in my career started!  Wish me luck!

PS – a special thanks to Alicea, Barton, Brian, and Bryce for sticking by me through all this.  Your insights and simply just being there to listen have been invaluable.  YOU ROCK!

Categories: Uncategorized

Don’t look behind the curtain!

July 8, 2008 Comments off

I spent the first couple days of this week at Microsoft’s campus working with a small group of folks doing a refresh of the certification exams for ISA Server 2004 and 2006 (70-350 and 351).  ISA stands for Internet Security and Acceleration – basically it’s Microsoft’s network firewall product that runs on top of a Windows server.  It’s a great too for publishing apps in a secure manner to the Internet, speed up web browsing for your users (by keeping a copy of commonly-accessed web content on the ISA server), and providing remote access to a network (VPN)

I’m under NDA so I can’t tell you a lot of details on what we did and discussed, but I can tell you that it was a really cool experience.  If you’ve ever taken a test and thought “these questions are stupid” I had a chance to avenge your experience (as long as your complaints were with either the 70-350 and 70-351 exams).  🙂

It was a blast to hang out with some wicked smart people and get into technical debates about best practices and firewall techniques.  Kudos to the whole group for, in my opinion, making some great progress on these exams!

The one part that bummed me out … well pissed me off really … was having 5 people who’ve been using the ISA product since it was called Proxy Server 8+ years ago all look at a test question, debate it, all arrive at an answer, find out we’re all wrong, and then learn that the people who have taken the exam in the last few months have gotten that question right about 90% of the time.  What the f…

Folks – don’t cheat.  Brain dumps are illegal (people go in to take an exam and steal the content and then post it online), and you’re not doing yourselves any favors.  The more people who pass exams by cheating the more diluted the pool of certified engineers becomes, and then you get to a point where having a certification doesn’t matter.  Effectively you’re screwing yourself over by making your certification useless, plus you’re lying to your employer (and yourself) in saying that you’re competent in a product or technology when you really aren’t.


Or, maybe you should just keep on doing it.  I know a PhD Psychometrician who’s an expert in Wii Boxing that’s gonna get ya!


Not saying anything

July 6, 2008 1 comment

There’s SO much stuff going on in my life I just can’t talk about publicly right now … and it’s eating me up!  There’s the whole big [redacted] that I can’t talk about.  Plus there’s another possible [redacted] that I can’t tell you about either.  And then for the next two days I’m going to be [redacted] which I think is completely cool and am really looking forward to … plus it pays really well!

Whew … okay, thanks for letting me spill the beans about all that.  🙂

I hope to be able to share my thoughts more about all this before the week is out.  I don’t know if I could go another weekend without having [redacted] finalized and put to bed.

Speaking of bed … it’s 11:30p!  Yikes!

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Line Rider + YouTube = Hours of (wasted) time

July 1, 2008 2 comments

I came across an interesting post today from Tim Heuer about the site Line Rider moving to Microsoft’s Silverlight version 2.  Now forget about the fact that you’re not interested in the technologies behind this website and how it does what it does.  Just know that by watching the video below you’re about to waste an afternoon on YouTube.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!  🙂