Dinner with Microsofties

I went to dinner (Nola’s, Palo Alto) tonight with 3 new grad Microsoft hires, 2 PMs (one from MSTV and another from MSN Search Toolbar) and one from sales (not quite sure what she’s selling). Interesting conversation throughout the night; it was nice to get other people in my simular situation’s view on Microsoft, their careers and such. They’d graduated from Princeton, Stanford and Cal Poly and had offers at i-banks (e.g. GS and Merrill), tech companies (Google, Yahoo, etc) and all chose to come to Microsoft. Pretty interesting, I’m not sure given those opportunities that I would have come to Microsoft. I remember before the Summer of 03 I was applying to consulting internships at firms like BCG, Bain and McKinsey and wasn’t even looked at. In retrospect, it seems like have school credentials such as Priceton and Stanford sure would have helped, I now look at Microsoft as a gateway to have street cred if I ever want to go that route again (and hopefully not start as lowly analysit).

Also, one of the questions that came up was, “what do you want to do when you grow up?” My answer — I want to change peoples lives. Sounds very Microsoft brainwashed, doesn’t it (MSFT vision statement = “Empower people through great software anytime, anyplace, and on any device”)? As I explained it, it made more sense to me as something that doesn’t necessarly mean Microsoft and doesn’t neceesarly mean technology. What do I want to do? Change lives, whether it be via building the next Wal-mart, writing the next Windows, helping solve social issues, stopping wars, or building cars, it doesn’t really matter as long as I’ve changed somebody’s life. The end result in all those scenarios being I want to effect change — for the better — in peoples day to day lives.

A Bit of Road Trippin’

Ami and I took a little road trip Thursday, Friday and Saturday up the California coast. Originally we had planned to make it all the way up to Portland, but she got a job interview on Thursday at the Pacifica School District, so we cut our trip short. We went up CA-1 to Eureka, stopping in Muir Woods, Gualala (where we spent a night at a very cute B&B, with an ocean view!), Mendocino and finally Eureka. On the way down, we took the 101 thru Avenue of the Giants and stopped for some wine tasting in Napa (bought 3 bottles, the 99 Beringer Alluviam Red (my choice), the 01 Beringer White Zin (Ami’s choice), and something else I can’t remember). All in all it was a very fun trip. The rain on the 1 was a headache, which caused us to slow our pace down so we didn’t make it all the way up to the California-Oregon border as planned, but nonetheless, fully enjoyable. Pictures are here for: day 1, day 2, day 3.

The Pledge of Whatever

Another interesting news story is the 9th Circuit’s decision that “under god” in the pledge is unconstitutional. The supreme court is currently hearing arguments over the case. Under Eisenhower’s administration in the 1960s, the “under god” was added by Congress in what is generally held to be a religious victory at the time. The current case is interesting as it was brought up by Michael Newdow on behalf of his daughter that stating “under god” couldn’t apply to them since they’re atheists. The interesting side note is Newdow is not the legal guardian of his daughter. Apparently when divorced from his then wife, custody went to the mother. Thankfully, the Supreme Court didn’t hold the technicality against him that he can’t sue on behalf of a child he’s not the guardian of. In any case, the 9th declared in favor of Newdow and the case has caused a wonderful fervor ever since. Even more interestingly, Newdow (who is a lawyer) argued the case himself in the high court, going so far as to ask Scalia to recuse himself. The case is said to have a decision by the summer. I’m hoping for the Supreme Court to uphold the 9th’s decision.

Social Inequality

I have no idea why people are against affirmative action. It’s the only way we’ll be able to help people who would not have otherwise had opportunity. There’s a new study out by the National Urban League which shows how deep the gap between whites and minorities (primarly Black, in the study) is. In a country where we strive for a deep and profound equality of all men, we do very little to get ourselves there. Social and racial equality is not acheived by turning a blind eye to the problem, it’s acheived by proactivly addressing it and taking it head on. Any case, rant mode off, here is the article about the study. 

Very Smart .NET Collections Exception

I can’t recall how many times I’ve had to pick my brain figuring out why code wasn’t working due to a Collection changing while I was enumerating with it in Java. .NET just threw a very cool exception when executing:

foreach(string key in DeltaQueue.Keys)
{
if(((DequeueInfoSet)DeltaQueue[key]).DequeueBehavior.DequeueNow())
DeltaQueue.Remove(key);
}

The exception was:

An unhandled exception of type ‘System.InvalidOperationException’ occurred in mscorlib.dll

Additional information: Collection was modified; enumeration operation may not execute.

Very cool exception! Right there, at runtime, that has saved me I’m sure a few hours in debugging.

An Interesting St. Patty’s Day

There’s a British pub up the street from me, The Duke of Edinburg, so I thought I’d try and oppress the holiday by visiting a watering hole of the Irish oppressor. Turns out it didn’t matter to the pub-goers, who were all standing around listening to Irish music and jigging. Fine, no problem. I mean, the irony of it all was beyond me, but hey, I guess the British know how to have a good time?

In any case, Jason and I were having a beer at the bar just chilling when this girl sits down in the bar stool next to me and starts talking to us. She introduced us to a couple of her friends including her boyfriend, all of whom were very chill people and seemed pretty cool. They told us that after the Duke they were heading over to Katie Bloom’s in Cambell and invited us to join them. Seeing that we had nothing better to do and the opportunity to head to a real Irish pub on St. Patrick’s day sounded appealing, we decided why not. Mind you, stuff like this never happens in my life. Hell, I thougth stuff like this doesn’t happen in any place but the movies. In any case, we followed Alex (the girl) and Jarrod (her boyfriend) down to Katie Bloom’s and met some more of their friends (including Jarrod’s sister, who’s 21st birthday it was) and had a classic good time. Turned out to be quite a fun night, espically considering Jason and I just went out have a drink and come home. Who knew!

White House Hides Iraq/Terrorism/9-11 Pages Search?

Has anybody seen http://www.whitehouse.gov/robots.txt? It’s unbelievable! If you don’t know what a robots.txt file is, it’s a list of pages on a web site that a search engine (i.e. Google, Yahoo, MSN) should avoid, basically telling it “if you see this file, please don’t add it in to your database.” It’s often used for stuff like hiding address books or other such data from search engines. However, if you look at the one at whitehouse.gov, you’ll see exclusion list has an incredible amount of exclusions. A quick read through shows that it excludes “911”, “iraq”, “deptofhomeland”, “europe”, “medicare”, etc, etc. Nearly every contraversial topic of the Bush administration. Is this example of limiting exposure through lack of a Google visiblity? It feels oh, so very Karl Rove.

Of course, this has had much coverage in the blogosphere: http://www.sethf.com/infothought/blog/archives/000455.html, http://www.bway.net/~keith/whrobots/whresp.html, http://www.deadparrots.net/archives/politics/0310sinister_doings_at_whitehousegov.html, and on http://www.2600.com/news/view/article/1803.

My Issues with Developing for dasBlog

I realize that some of these following issues are not specifically dasBlog related, but they’re my gripes with developing for dasBlog.

First, GotDotNet. GotDotNet is horrible. The site is pathetically slow. I have never been able to get the GDN source control plug in to work for Visual Studio. The WinForms source code control app is also just as pathetic. I hate exclusive check-outs. CVS rocks its socks. SourceForge would be worth it just for that. Also, the message boards are retarted. I hate message boards. Mailing lists are better.

As for the dasBlog community, the folks on the message boards seem to be pretty unresponsive. I can’t seem to get a response out of people. I’ve been trying to get some buy-off on my design for the multi-user dasBlog prototype, but I can’t seem to get anybody to comment on it. I have check-in access to the source tree, but I don’t want to check in a major delta without somebody saying “yah, that looks good” since it isn’t my project. I’ve worked on an open source project before (DotGNU), where the mailing lists were (and still are) very active and full of fantastic discussion.

My last complaint is the dasBlog project is far far too large. It has 23 projects in the solution. In order to get an incremental change to build in an acceptably quick way, I’ve disabled building of half the random importers and test harnesses that in there.