Category Archives: Microsoft

The beta tag comes off Windows Live Hotmail

It was a long road, lots of research, lots of development, a private beta and two years of public beta… and now Windows Live Hotmail is officially out of beta.  I want to give a huge congrats to the team and I must say I kind of wish I could have been there.  I must admit, after having been there for the first two years of the process (and for six years total), I felt kind of sad seeing all the great pictures of the team posted on today’s blog entry

Though I’m sad I missed the end run, I don’t regret my move to Ireland one bit. Congratulations guys on a fantastic release!

My new favorite Vista feature

I suppose I should start by telling you what my old favorite feature was… I’m not sure what it’s called but it allows you to navigate up and down folders much more quickly.  It’s great for going from one folder to another at the same level (e.g. from one folder of pictures to another).

Quick navigation in Vista

My NEW favorite feature comes courtesy of Omar’s blog: the shadow copy. Here’s the MS description of the feature:

Windows Vista now includes shadow copy functionality built in, which enables users to access previous versions of their documents, even when they are stored locally on their computer instead of on the network. Accessing the previous versions of a file you’re working with is easy.

What happened is I was bit by a bug which removed all the date taken information from the pictures I took over Christmas time.  Big deal?  Not to people who simply print their pictures… but for me it meant all the pictures were in random order on our web site.  I searched high and low for a tool to copy the date information from another part of the file and then remembered Omar’s post.  The process of restoring files was pretty straight-forward… and really made me happy work provides us with Windows Ultimate (unfortunately for home users, it’s not available on the consumer version).

For the curious, I made some screenshots of the process:

Shadow copy restore Shadow copy restore Shadow copy restore Shadow copy restore Shadow copy restore

Oh, also cool: if you get a Windows Home Server your backups on the server will show up there too.  Sweet!  Dang I want that cool round one! See the Digital Amnesia site for more info (presented in an entertaining fashion) or for a great demo, watch CJ’s video interview on 10.

Thanks Vista for the save (and thanks Omar for the pointer :)).

So… what does Reeves do?

I’ve moved to Ireland… Hotmail is in Mountain View, California.  The observant reader may put 2 & 2 together and think: “Hotmail has moved to Ireland!” Fortunately most people who read this blog are observant and  intelligent (you do read this blog, after all ;) ). 

While my original plan was to bring some development resources with me to Ireland, I ended up instead joining up with a growing team here which is building components for a new web analytics project code named “Gatineau”.

Gatineau will be Microsoft’s entry in the the web analytics market.  While the nuts and bolts of the operation are in Redmond, here in Ireland we’re building some cool, extra bits to pile into the mix.  I wish I could provide some more detail as I’m really excited about what we’re doing (both here and in Redmond) but for now, things are under wraps.

One of our new planners, Ian, has provided a quick run down of what’s going on, it’s not a tell-all by any stretch, but it does give a bit more information.

How to change jobs… and how not to

While flying home to Dublin from Redmond I was doing a little blog reading (hooray for SAS and airborne broadband) when I came across an interesting post on Dare’s blog regarding the Microsoft policy of needing permission from your manager before you can interview or a different position within MS.  It’s a policy that leads to a certain amount of discomfort for any employ who wants to change jobs.  Going to your manager for permission is tough, but here’s a promise I’ve made to myself which helps me (and works if I’m at Microsoft or not):

I’ve promised myself I won’t ever leave my current role – I will always go to a new role.

Here’s the big issue for me: when I’m fed up with work, my boss, my hours or whatever, any job will look good to me.  As soon as I’m in flight mode, trying to run away from my current position I am super-likely to be simply abandoning the frying pan.  There are always times at work where I’ll be pissed at my boss, annoyed at my coworkers and/or think the product has no chance of succeeding.  When I get to that point I always take a deep breath and try to figure out if a) it’s something I can correct and b) if it’s something I think will last.  It sounds pretty silly advice,  but don’t ever leave a job you hate.

So, what should someone do if they hate their job?  In the ideal world one will have picked a cool group at a cool company working on a cool product.  Chances are there’s something you like about your job, find it and focus on it.  You also have to decide you’re not going to adopt a victim mentality (it’s your bosses fault… your coworkers stole the credit… it will ship if test would find the bugs).  Don’t ever think that you can’t make your situation better because that will sink the ship fast.  Figure out what is broken and what part of it you can fix.  Once everything is sunshine and roses you can move on (sure, I’m an idiot… but I’m an optimist).

I am totally comfortable at any point in time going to my boss and saying “Hey, I came across this internal job listing and it totally sounds like something I’d really like to do.  Things are going great here but I’d really like the opportunity to go do this cool thing.  May I please?”  I may actually be happy in my current role or I may not… but if I actually honor my promise to myself I’m actually highly likely to be in a role I enjoy before I leave for one I’m going to enjoy even more.

So, what does this have to do with the Internal hiring policies?  Here’s the thing: I feel if my manager thinks I am a good employee and honestly excited about going to a new role they will be disappointed to see me go but genuinely interested in helping me succeed.  If I get the job I wanted my manager will be happy because they know I’m going to an exciting opportunity.  If I don’t get the job my manager will be happy because they don’t loose me.


Afterword
I’ve been at Microsoft for almost ten years and been a manager on and off for roughly half that time.  I’ve applied for internal positions and moved groups.  I’ve also applied for jobs and not been hired.  I’ve had employees request permission and I’ve granted it every time.  Microsoft has policies about when a transfer can be blocked or delayed and are very reasonable.  Always if your manager blocks your move and you think it’s unreasonable you should talk to your HR rep as they can help you to work through it.

Presence buttons are cool… why can’t messenger have these?

Way back in the day ICQ allowed people to put a little snippet of HTML anywhere they liked and it would show their presence.  That was very cool.  Yahoo can do it too. AOL offers itNow Skype is doing it too.  Why, for the sake of all that is geeky, can’t we (Microsoft) do this for messenger? 


Wait, I know, I’ll use a buzz-word: it’s viral! (it’ll happen for sure now).




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