Friday Night Excitement

Yesterday was lots of fun. We had another wine and cheese at Nodira’s last night.
The highlights:

  • Lots of wine and beer, and a gas can full of rum and coke
  • Drunken SET (I brought the nerd entertainment again – last time it was logic puzzles)
  • I lost five bucks in a poker tournament
  • Greg got hammered and I got to be his DD (the gas can was a giant killer)
  • After Nodira kicked us out at 2:00, we went to Microsoft for a ping-pong tourney. We found the table, but no ball
  • But we did find an XBox, so we played Halo 2 for an hour
  • Greg, in his drunken stupor, still kicked our butts
  • I tried to keep up to Sarah as she raced up four levels of the parking garage – that girl drives like a maniac

Greg was still passed out when I left to workout at the gym this morning.

Tomorrow we’re having a few peope over to watch the Super Bowl or for some – the commericials. Although I hear they’re really lame this year.

Marketing Mayhem – Alapacas Included

Well MSN Search launched yesterday, so everyone in my team is pretty excited. Microsoft is starting a huge advertising campaign to convince people to try MSN Search and forsake Google. We’ll see how successful they are; they’re certainly throwing a lot of money into marketing.

As part of the marketing campaign, all the buildings on campus were plastered with window clings and posters. I volunteered to help and spent my Monday night wandering through buildings and placing window clings on people’s office windows, elevator doors, elevator roofs, bathroom mirrors, drink fridge doors, and about anywhere else they would stick. It was fun exploring what should have been empty buildings – most of them still had a fair number of developers working late. Although I think I work in one of the nicest buildings here at Microsoft, we don’t have quite the goodies that some of the other teams have. All we have is a Foosball table that we can’t play before 5 pm because it’s next to someone’s office. The VB.Net team had 3 or 4 arcade games on every floor in their building – all free to play course. So I had a quick game of Dr. Mario during a graffiti break.

As part of the launch festivities, they had different gimmicky things all over campus. They had a MSN Race car at one building and just outside my building they had 6 alpacas. I’m still not sure why they were there, but it was kind of cool. They were a little nervous around strangers and they made the weirdest noises, like whiny kids. Too odd. At lunch, they had two very cute girls dressed up in skin-tight butterfly suits handing out t-shirts and window clings. Can’t wait to get that picture developed.

Oh, and as promised, as part of a press release or blog post they released the picture of our team with bill. I had the original somewhere, but I found this photo-shopped one today, and it’s much more amusing (I’ve circled and labeled the important parts).
(larger…)

Last night we had an intern bowling event. Although it was even more slanted than usual with 20 guys and 1 girl (not including the two ladies who organized it), I still had a good time. Probably because the phone food was good, I kept winning, and I met my Mexican friend – Fernando. If you don’t remember Fernando, you’ll have to refer back to my first post, the one that started it all. Fernando is quite the bowler, I’m happy to report. Until the last game, he was the only one to beat my score (a modest 148) and only by 7 pins.

Notes on my week

Work
Well my second week of work is over. It was really the first week I was actually doing work, and boy did I work my butt off. I cranked out an awesome site monitoring tool for NewsBot, the product team I working for. It makes lots of pretty graphs and pie charts. I did spend a lot of time on it though. Most days I was here from 8:30 – 6:30, and I was here until 9:00 on Thursday. I’m going to have to slow my pace down, or I might burn out like poor JP.

I’m really happy with the way my Software Developer in Test (SDET) job is going. I was kind of worried I’d be stuck testing widgets or something suitably boring, but I’m doing more design and coding then the developers I know here. And the coding I’m doing is for analysis tools, so there aren’t hundreds of hoops to jump through before I can release it. My first tool will be ready for use on Monday. It was ready on Friday, but my code review revealed a few problems that I need to fix first.

Seattle
Last weekend Greg, Jennifer, and I spent the day walking around downtown Seattle. The highlight was Pike Place Market. The original Starbucks was disappointing, but the fish tossing fish mongers surpassed all expectations (what can you expect from people who toss fish for a living?) – especially when they hit some poor tourist in the head with a fake fish.

We still have to hit the big sites, like the Space Needle and the Experience the Music Project. Although that can wait until Kelsey comes to visit me in two weeks. I hope it snows before then. This afternoon, I might meet some interns for a trip to the Aquarium.

Misc
I opened an American bank account yesterday at Bank of America. Our co-op advisor told us to avoid the big banks because their customer service sucked, but the people at Bank of America were most accommodating. First, they were open on Saturday, but only until 1 o’clock. Greg and I showed up at 1:45 and they still let us in and opened an account for us. And since we’re Microsoft employees, they wave a whole bunch of charges. We said Sarah referred us, so she got $70, and each of us got $25. And they deposit another $25 in your account for free, just because they’re so nice. I was definitely impressed. I especially like having multiple bank accounts. I feel like such a tycoon.

Gym
I have a membership at the Pro Club now. It’s the biggest, craziest gym I have ever seen. It’s uber-huge! And it’s frequented by scrawny Microsoft geeks, so I don’t have to worry about too many testosterone-filled big-muscle guys.

Encounter with Bill

I had my first encounter of the Bill kind today. I was 4 feet away from him! I think I’m the first intern to see him. Greg works in the same building as him, and the closest he’s come is a run-in with the security team that watches Bill’s parking spot.

This morning, the MSN Search team got pictures taken with Bill. Supposedly it’ll be sent out in a newswire with a press release. When I get a hold of it I’ll post it.

The encounter was kind of comical. They spent 30 minutes arranging our team (about 100 people) around an MSN Search banner, then Bill walked in, waved at us, stood in the middle for a few pictures, and walked out. He didn’t even say a word. Maybe it wasn’t even Bill, but some robot clone they use for menial events. Maybe…

But anyway, I got to see Bill. He kind of looked like Mr. Roger’s, with the blue sweater he was wearing. It’s weird to think how much the man is worth, and yet he still looks like a nerd. 🙂

The other day I was wandering around downtown Seattle with Greg and Jennifer and looking at all the fancy stores and I realized that one day I might be rich (not Bill rich, but Tech jobs pay well enough), but I’ll never be classy enough to spend my money in places like that. Which is fine, there are too many other cool, nerdy things to spend money on, like a pinball machine. I’d love to have a pinball machine. I wonder how many pinball machines Bill has?

Feeling the Rush

I want to make the most of my Microsoft experience. So, this morning I decided to try something quintessentially Seattle. Right now I’m about the third of a way through my first latte. I think the caffeine rush is really hitting me hard. I don’t normally drink coffee or coke. In fact I can’t remember the last time I had something caffeinated. My eyeballs feel very strange and I think my heart is beating too fast – I can feel it in my temples. Is this normal?

2nd Day of Work

OK. I’ll keep it brief this time. I promise (Greg will be here in 5 minutes to pick me up so I have no choice).

My day so far has been a mixed bag. I got toured around and introduced to everyone. I found out what I’m working on – I’m doing work on developing tools for monitoring and simulating events on NewsBot (time to learn C# and .net). I had a good chat with Pat Copeland, the guy who interviewed me in Waterloo – he has big expectations for me. I had some problems setting up my computer – the first one had a bad video card. And yes, sadly I only have one computer ( I think Greg has 3 ), but it is a dual Xeon ( = really, really, fast). I share an office with a delightful chap named Lei. MSN must be a crowded place because a ton of people including my mentor are sharing offices. And I got to party this afternoon because MSN Search went live today. At 2:30 we got to shoot of little firecrackers and streamers into the lobby from the 3rd floor and watch as the team leads were all dunked in the pond outside. And there were complimentary snacks, beer, and wine.

First Day

Since I’m writing this right now, you are correct in assuming I survived my first day. I had just written a comprehensive report about the exciting parts of it, but IE just crashed on me. It’s good to know that even at Microsoft IE still crashes. On the bright side, you know get to read the abridged version of my first day.

So, yesterday was New Employee Orientation (NEO). Supposedly every Monday they have a NEO for about 50 people. That’s 50 new people at Microsoft every day. When I stop and realize there are 27,000 MS employees right here in the Seattle area, that’s not that surprising anymore.

NEO wasn’t that eventful. They threw a lot of info at us, gave us ID badges, and fed us really well. Some interesting tidbits: They don’t like open source software. “Microsoft Married” = my favourite phrase of the day. This place is huge! There are 83 buildings here in the Seattle area with shuttles that run between them.

After NEO we were supposed to get in contact with our managers and setup our offices. I couldn’t get ahold of my manager by phone, so I decided to drive down to my building. I’m working in Redmond West, which is about 10 minutes away from the main campus and is where all the MSN teams are.

My manager wasn’t there, so I wandered around and then headed back to Greg’s building so we could go drop off my rental car and pick up his. He was busy meeting with his team and told me I was on my own. So, I lost my ride back home and Greg lost his ride to the car rental place. But I needed to return the car, so I went off anyway. Luckily Avis has a guy who drives people around and he drove me back home.

Now, I still hadn’t met my manager or anyone on my team, so I was starting to worry. But if I went back to work, I had no way of getting back home. I figured I’d call from home and straighten everything out.

When I got home, I realized I forgot my keys. I tried finding a hidden spare key everywhere, but no dice. I even considered breaking in through the balcony in the back, but there were too many neighbours by their windows. So, I left Greg a note and went shopping. I also called my manager from a payphone – still no answer, so I asked her to call me at home.

When I got back around 6:00, still no Greg. So I wandered around the back again. It was dark now and there were fewer neighbours by their windows. I really didn’t want a run in the with the local police, but I was getting hungry, so I decided to do my best commando routine and scale the wall. I managed to jump up and grab the bottom of the balcony railings and somehow pull myself up and over the railing. Then I quickly opened our balcony door and disappeared inside.

Before I could celebrate my daring entrance, the phone rang. I had been caught…Actually it was my manager. She was sick all day and had just got into work. After talking to her for a bit, I hung up and started to make dinner. Then the phone rang again. Greg this time. So, in the end no police.

OK. That wasn’t that abridged. But I did have to retype it.

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