Tag Archives: microsoft

Windows Sucks

I have a Dell laptop that I dual boot into Windows and Linux. Linux is where I do all my software development. I use Windows for photo editing, watching Netflix, and playing video games. I like having the complete separation of work and play.

Too bad Windows refuses to cooperate. A few months ago, my windows partition died when explorer.exe became corrupted and Windows crashed on boot. The only solution was to reinstall Windows. So, I backed up all my files, extracted my license keys, got an install CD from work, and reinstalled everything from scratch. It was a time consuming process, but mostly straight forward – Windows destroyed my boot loader forcing me to reinstall Linux, but I had been meaning to upgrade Ubuntu anyway.

After two full reinstalls, everything was fixed and happy for a few months. Then Windows decided my copy was a counterfeit. The problem was I installed Windows from a normal install CD but my license key is for an OEM version. I installed exactly the same version of Windows 7 Pro, but it still doesn’t recognize my license key. I contacted Microsoft support, but the best the woman on the phone could do was “Contact Dell and you’ll probably have to reinstall Windows again with an OEM CD”. No thanks. Maybe it’s time to switch to a Mac.

Still Gainfully Employed

My one year anniversary at Business Objects silently passed by in June. With the constant hecticness at work (everyone is pushing hard to get our next big release out the door), I don’t think I’ve had time to reflect on my first year of permanent employment. By now I’m sure I’ve spent more than 2000 hours banging away at a keyboard, earning my salary by making words appear in the right order – sometimes my job seems so trivial – but I’ve enjoyed most of it.

UBC Ropes CourseI had my first annual performance review in July. I got a glowing review and a nice pay increase for my hard work over the past year. The recognition felt good, and although I don’t need to the money, I didn’t protest. I’ve managed to establish myself within the team and have been given quite a bit of responsibility. I’m looking forward to finishing off this release so we can start planning for the next release and I can take full ownership of a few features, but that seems a few months off yet.

Work isn’t all stress and hard work. On Friday we had a team Fun Day, which we spent team building and swinging Tarzan-style at the UBC Ropes Course. It was loads of fun and I did leave with stronger friendships with my teammates.

The green revolution that started at work last quarter seems to be gaining momentum, powered by some enthusiastic executives and loads of environmentally concious employees. At our last quarterly all-hands, we heard presentations about the latest environmental initiatives we’re taking on. There’s an effort to set up all the computers at work to hibernate when they’re not in use. This may seem silly at first, but almost everyone I know leaves their 2 computers on all the time (including overnight and on weekends). I turn mine off for the weekend, but it’s too much of a pain to try and shut it down on a daily basis. I’ve tried to hibernate it, but something on the LAN wakes it up after a few seconds. Supposedly a solution is in the works and will be rolled out to everyone’s computers soon. That initiative alone should save tons of electricity.

Think Before You Drink
Originally uploaded by Eva Marieville

The employee suggested initiatives were:
– Planting a tree for every million dollars of revenue the company makes. This one sounds like a PR stunt, but it will result over 1000 trees planted each year.
Thinking Outside The Bottle and removing bottled water from all the vending machines at work, providing all employees with an aluminium water bottle, and discouraging everyone from using bottled water. This was my favourite and it won the contest for an energy efficient fridge.
– A partnership with a local auto dealer and a credit union to provide discounts on Prius purchases and cheap financing. I have mixed feelings about this. Hybrids are definitely better than most cars, but it still means someone is driving instead of considering other forms of transportations.

The only other interesting part of the meeting (aside from the free lunch) was a Q&A question asking about Microsoft’s entrance in the local market and its affect on Business Objects. For now, it looks the company is taking a wait and see approach. The executive who answered assured us Microsoft was a good thing for the market in Vancouver because it will bring more people to Vancouver for tech jobs. He’s probably right, but I think they’ll be a bit more worried when loads of developers start jumping ship. Within the last month, I’ve seen two Waterloo grads, who started around the same time as me, quit and take jobs with Amazon, who pays almost $30,000 a year more. If Microsoft starts paying its Canadian developers the same as the developers in Redmond are making, either Business Objects is going to have to give big raises or watch as developers leave.

I’m still fascinated by the opportunity that Microsoft may present. I’ve said in the past if Microsoft was in Canada I’d work for them. Well now they are, so I guess I should at least consider it. It’s too bad they’ve decided to locate in a business park in Richmond – a black hole in terms of transit. I’m curious to see what kind of culture develops in their new office.

Red Ring of Death!

Our XBOX 360 has bit the dust. It red ringed last week. So sad. No we have to wait 5-6 weeks for Microsoft to fix it and send us a new one. It’s pretty pathetic, because we’ve only had it for 4 months and we don’t use it that much. No wonder Microsoft is taking a $1 billion hit over all the warranty claims on the XBOX. The good news is the warranty has been extended from 1 year to 3 years, so I can keep sending it back every 4 months another 8 times.

Go Green or Go Home

BikesNike and Microsoft are leading the Climate Change Fight, but Apple and Amazon are lagging behind according to data collected by Climate Counts.

I hope whomever decides to buy Vancouver’s most expensive, $18 million condo likes to throw wild parties. It’s across the street and at the same height as my apartment, so I’ll have a great view. What do you get for $18 million? “7,000 square feet (plus a guest suite on the second floor) with double-height ceilings, a private, four-car garage and two additional parking spots, a boat slip and a private elevator that stops only at the guest rooms and the penthouse.”

By deciding to work at Business Objects instead of Microsoft, I increased my life expectancy by 2 years! Something to do with the healthier lifestyles in Vancouver compared to Seattle. “British Columbians lead residents of the U.S. Pacific Northwest in health and life expectancy, living longer than people in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, says a new report from a Seattle think tank…But that could change if the province proceeds with plans to twin the Port Mann Bridge and build more roads as part of its Gateway Project, he added. The report also notes there has been a slow but steady increase in poverty in B.C.” One more reason to kill the Gateway Project.

A group of Vancouver restaurants have banded together to start Green Table – a coalition of food services companies dedicated to becoming more sustainable. “Some day we’ll all look back and refer to Styrofoam as a curse word. And I hope I’m around to witness it.”

Lastly, Giant Critical Mass is only 1 week away! Not everyone is happy that thousands of cyclists are set to take over Vancouver’s main steets on the Friday before the Canada Day Long Weekend. I’m thrilled. “Factor in an increasing awareness of the environmental impact of driving versus cycling, and, to some, it’s become more than a matter of common courtesy — it’s an indicator of a person’s ethical makeup.” Situation: Critical

PlayTable Goes Live

Microsoft SurfaceBizzaro World Me has been working on the PlayTable since the fateful day I decided to work at Microsoft instead of Business Objects. It’s been hard but rewarding work getting it ready to ship and I’m a bit disappointed its now being branded as Microsoft Surface. What happened to the family entertainment device that would be in everyone’s living room? I realize the $5,000-$10,000 price tag was a bit steep for a consumer device, but I was all giddy about the possibility of playing all my favourite board games on a ridiculously powerful multi-touch computer. Instead it’s being used to sell cellphones?

It’s probably a good thing they didn’t market PlayTable at the living room board game crowd. I love playing board games and might have shelled out $5,000 for a wicked computer to play them on. But eventually it would have suffered the same fate as all of my physical boardgames – neglected to a closet to gather dust because I lack the planning skills necessary to invite people over to play with me.

Sleepless in Seattle

Sarah and Yuxi Cook up a StormI really should have written about this earlier when last weekend was fresher in my mind. Oh well, better late than never. Last weekend I took a bus down to Seattle to hang with the dozens of Waterloo friends that are now living down there.

<lj-cut text="Seattle Trip Details"The bus was really convenient and pretty cheap. $40 return with my student card (I have to use it while I can, it expires in 3 weeks) on Quick Coach. Between Quick and Amtrak there’s 10 buses running a day. Now, I have excuses not to visit again. Especially, after I had such a great time last weekend.

Friday night I spent the evening at Lorrissa’s drinking wine and talking with Lorrissa, Erin, Graeme (who was gracious enough to pick me up and drive me down to Bellevue), Greg, and Sarah. It was a great night and reminded me of all the countless late nights spent chatting in Waterloo. Most of the conversation centred around relationships, with some talk of work and the Microsoft bubble, university reminiscing, and the differences between Canada and the US.

Saturday was breakfast at IHOP, an American institution. It was the first time I’ve been without being hung-over. It didn’t make the food any better, just typical, greasy, diner fare.

Saturday night was a potluck at Greg’s. It was loads of fun. The highlights being the great food (they even went out of there way to ensure there was some veggie options – thanks!), the uber-nerdy Microsoft employees, worshipping Greg’s humongous 50 inch LCD tv (I guess size does matter), and playing Mafia. I love Mafia. What a great game – so much intrigue, lying, and strategy. I can’t wait to play it again. I’m thinking at Christmas there should be enough people out at the farm to get a good game going.

StunnedSunday was spent chilling with Sarah, Greg, and Yuxi in Seattle before jumping back on a bus to Vancouver. Being in Vancouver for the weekend made me think of how different life would have been had I took the job at Microsoft. On one hand, I’d have more friends to hang out with – friends who through those party I love to go to, and with lots of great toys and money to blow on ridiculously pimped out cars and ginormous tvs. On the other hand, I’d be living in Bellevue – the epitome of bad urban planning that centers on cars not people. I couldn’t believe how spread out the city is there. You can’t get anywhere without driving, which explains why everyone I know at Microsoft has recently purchased a new car. Even in Seattle, a big urban centre, people still drive everywhere. I had to walk 4 blocks through downtown from Sarah’s to the bus stop, and I saw like 2 other people. The streets were just deserted. I’ve gotten used to Vancouver, where there are constantly people walking everywhere downtown.

I have to say I’m happy I’m in Vancouver. The city is so much cooler, I heard that the team I would have been working at Microsoft is flopping, and I wouldn’t have met Emily in Seattle.