Thanks to Lenn Pryor and his wife for giving my wife and I a tour around Sammamish tonight. Lenn has lots of great stories about industry luminaries (he's met with tons of different developers, both inside and outside Microsoft -- he used to be an evangelist for PocketPC and now is leading a team of evangelists on Longhorn).
I had lunch today with Microsoft employee (and weblogger) Joe Bork. He told me all about Visual Studio compact framework (which is what he works on).
We also talked about the perception of Microsoft as a company and if there's anything we can do about it. We talked about whether or not weblogging is helping show that Microsoft isn't about making Bill Gates richer and that it's about guys like Joe who are just trying to build cool things to make people's lives better.
But, I do notice the same things he has. I've started self-censoring myself in weird ways. I'm not even sure I could enumerate the ways I self censor myself now. I am only half aware that I'm doing it. But, I'll start typing a paragraph and quickly backspace it. Not just because I'm afraid that something I write will get me in trouble with management, either.
Already in the first two weeks I've picked up on the fact that Microsoft is perceived differently from any other company I've ever worked on (of course I knew that before I came to Microsoft, but I didn't really expect that outside pressure would change my writing as much as it has). Here are very smart people working very hard trying to do the right thing -- and excited doing it. I wish you could see the excitement in Joe's eyes about what he is working on (and I get that with everyone I talk to here). But, how do you communicate that in the weblog world without getting stomped on or coming across as some arrogant jerk? It makes writing a bit harder, that's for sure.
Since I ripped Jupiter Analyst Jared Blank a few days back, I figure I owe him something nice. I've been following his weblog every day. It's about travel. It's a topic of GREAT interest to me, since I'll be traveling back to Silicon Valley more than 40 times a year to see my son.
I have an experience for his blog. My wife, my son (nine-year-old Patrick) and I stayed at the brand new San Jose Marriott. It's a nice hotel. It's connected to the San Jose Convention Center. Very convenient. Very clean cause everything is new (it opened about a month ago).
The staff is disorganized, though, and service isn't up to what I'd expect in a hotel of this stature.
For one, we were moved four times. First time, the hotel said they gave us the wrong room. Then they moved us into a room that had no cold water. Then they moved us into a room that only had a single bed (we needed two separate beds). Finally they moved us into the room we spent most of the weekend in.
They gave us four very small scoops of ice cream to try to make up for all the commotion. Good enough. We're flexible and understanding, and we obviously were dealing with a new hotel staff that hadn't quite gotten used to the system.
But, on Sunday they give us a hotel bill as if we were checking out. Nah, we were staying until Monday. Oh, they charged us $20 for the ice cream that was supposedly comped. I got that taken off the bill.
They didn't clean our room on Sunday.
Oh, and my son was able to order a movie for himself without asking me for permission and he didn't realize that it just cost me $12 to do that.
Anyone else get peeved at paying $18 a day for parking (plus $2 tip everytime you get your car)? Or paying $150 a night? Or paying $10 a day for Internet? I'm being nickel and dimed. Next thing they'll figure out is how to charge you for oxygen usage or something.
I'll be staying somewhere else next time. On our next trip Maryam got a $65-a-night rate at the Hyatt (which is across the street). It'll be interesting to see how that goes.
Splintercell's weblog is taking a tablet bent lately. I love it.
I've been meaning to try out the new screen saver for the TabletPC.
I sat down with Harry Pierson today for a while and chatted about evangelism and Microsoft. You know him better by his weblog "DevHawk."
Nothing quotable came out of the meeting, but being around Harry, I'm reminded how low on the intelligence scale I am. He came out of the meeting already building some really great weblog projects. Reminds me once again why I like to be around people who build things. They make me feel alive and remind me I can do more to help the human condition.
A question seen in the blogosphere: "is Eric Rudder fake?"
Personally, I know that Eric is writing his own weblog. I think executives who weblog (particularly at Microsoft) are between a rock and a hard place. If they say anything interesting, they'll immediately get picked up in the press and their comments will probably be taken out of context.
If they give away strategy or product plans, they will help out competitors. If they talk about competitors, they'll be welcoming lawsuits. If they give people insights into what the business is doing, they could be hit with shareholder lawsuits, or other governmental actions.
Along these lines: I'm participating in a panel at Microsoft about corporate weblogs next month (if you're a Microsoft employee and you want to attend, send me email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll give you the details).
Wow, Dave Winer sent over 908 readers today. Added to my usual 18, that's quite a rush. Usually I don't get that many hits from Scripting.com. I wonder what's different. Oh, you all are wondering what I'm writing about Microsoft.
You want something substantive? Yeah, right. Well, I'd post a code name of a future version of Visual Studio here or something, but I decided against it. First of all, if you don't know that the next version of Visual Studio is Whidbey, you probably don't read dotnetweblogs.
Second of all, if you really want to learn something about what Microsoft is doing, you should check out the TechED Weblogs. Well, not now of course, but next week while TechED is going on (it starts June 1).
A friend asked me why I wasn't linking to Dvorak. Here's why. Dvorak is giving a keynote at the Gnomedex conference at the end of July. He needs something outrageous to say.
Andy over at the Register has already staked out the spot as the "meanest to webloggers" guy. So, Dvorak had to go the other way and play a game. If you remember right, Dvorak, a few months ago, was trying to be "the meanest to webloggers." He wrote a column calling us names. Now he's seemingly trying to play nice. But, I believe there's a catch. I believe Dvorak is trying to prove that webloggers will link to you as long as you write about weblogging.
Well, I'm sure that lots of webloggers will fall into that trap.
Not me. If you want to read something intelligent about weblogging, go over and check out Joshua Allen's post today. He has the added credibility of actually being a weblogger.
As for my 18 readers who are bent cause they don't know how to get to John Dvorak's stuff? Go over to PCMag and search around.
John Dvorak needs more Google Juice, so today he wrote an article praising the fad of weblogging. I don't believe he really believes a word that he's writing, so I'm not gonna link to him and give him more Google Juice.