Monday, December 27, 2004


(Well, that title might be a href="">bit obscure, but href="">maybe

The href="
p=0">What's Next for Google article pointed to via href="">Slashdot has the following benefits

...In a Playboy interview published shortly
before Google's IPO, Brin and Page did not mention competitive threats.
Rather, they talked about corporate ethics, the creation of foundations, and
their efforts to make Google a great place to work.

Google is a great
place to work. My friends there absolutely love the place, and in part for
that reason, they work very hard. Google allows pets and provides employees
with laundry service, drinks, meals, massages, car washes, and (soon) child
care. Its corporate motto is "Don't be evil." But long ago, a professor of
mine, noting my youthful idealism, remarked that the only successful neutral
nations are those, like Switzerland, that are permanently armed to the
teeth. And for Google, neutrality is not an option.

I know that Google is a lot smaller and can lavish benefits like this on
their employees. Surely if Google survives and gets bigger and bigger they
won't be serving three-squares a day and making their employee life so easy
that they can simply concentrate on doing a great job. Er,

Sigh. Google, Google, Google!

I still think Microsoft is
trimming muscle instead of fat in their hopes to appease Wall Street with
their adherence to doing the best job possible managing Microsoft
Corporation for the shareholders. When management's bitter harvest unfurls
its withered crop, the bad decisions to make Microsoft a tepid workplace
creating tepid results will not be what is foisted out as the target of

As I ruminate the eroding Microsoft benefits and perks (make
no mistake, what remains is still better than average
), I find the
recent href="">Sea
ttle Weekly article about CostCo interesting as it recounts the CostCo
management telling Wall Street to blow off when given harsh financial advice
about trimming back on benefits to increase profits and share price. Now I
see benefits cut-backs as a little quickie-financial algorithm that someone
executed within Microsoft vs. taking a moment to actually think about what
really needs to be cut (staff).

So we don't have official gala
holiday party events - I don't miss them, but as Microsoft trims back on its
parties, href="
3-5494010.html">Yahoo and Google fire them up. Me? I can pay for my own
food and I don't have a dog. As a small example of something I do miss: I
miss the holiday shipping benefit. I still ship physical stuff and it saved
me a lot of time to go over to, say, Pebble Beach and quickly send off my
packages. Then I was happy and got back to work quickly and wrote some, if I
do say so, great freaking code. Now I come back frazzled and PO'd.

there plenty of folks who shook their Christmas stocking hard, hoping that
out would fall some evidence that Microsoft super-values its employees?
Given where Microsoft is right now it just plain can't. We've started down
the atrophying path of benefit and budget cut-backs. And what does the
weenie that replaced the shrimp get replaced with as we go down the next
level? It's sort of the reverse of "href="">If
You Give a Mouse a Cookie." And I don't think it ends at

I again suggest that the brakes be slammed on and for management
to express what might seem to be an oddly opposing message:

  1. We
    super-value our employees and demonstrate this by the following benefits and
    perks that we have crafted to increase employee morale, satisfaction, and
  2. We are vastly overstaffed for the challenges we need to
    succeed at and have started a 10% reduction of the worldwide

Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Scoble, firing, and Microsoft as "Brand Cool"

The dog-pile of the week is Mr. href="">Scoble's href="">open letter to
BillG and other bemused folks enjoying detailing the href="">Rorschach-like
reactions to the post. I totally href="">missed
this little part the first time I read through it (colorization / bold

1) Start a weblog.
Get the person who runs the team to start
a blog.
NOW. Or fire him/her. I'm serious. color="#808080">Make it as cool as href="">color="#808080">the King Kong blog. Put
EVERYTHING up on that blog.
Videotape every
meeting. Every design session. Write something every

Fire folks? Boyakasha!

Hey, if
it gets people out of the company I'm for this blog-most-coolly-or-walk
litmus test whole-hearted! Two thumbs up.

Anyway, going back to a
meta-level on Scoble's original post: his point resonates a lot with me

  1. Microsoft is not cool and
  2. The Microsoft
    brand, while well known, doesn't mean much to most folks.

might have touched upon coolness during the internet boom. But we've faded
and you just have to believe that this is not missed upon by the analysts. I
certainly don't blame our cool-deficit to the lack of black mock
turtle-necks around campus... I blame it on the leadership's decision to
gravitate towards what they think is easy money: IT.

You can tell me
day and night that, new feature-wise, we're licking the boots of the IT
department because "that's where the money
" and for some reason people walking around on the street with
money in their pocket don't matter because they don't make relevant
decisions. B and S. All this IT licking hasn't raised our stock from the
dead. The dog and pony shows we put on for analysts are yawn-fests.

invigorate Microsoft's stock and the view of Microsoft by the analysts, we
need an injection of "Oh, I got to get me one of
" by the everyday consumer. Buzz. I don't know if it's a
music player, a phone, another device, or suh-weet software.

We can't
just be a technology dial tone.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A Light in the Darkness

Positive re-enforcement time: Joe Wilcox at Microsoft Monitor has a post
today titled href="">MSN's Rising
Fortune that looks at MSN's recent accomplishments. A

While the client division whacks away at Windows
security problems, href="">chucks features
from Longhorn and readies the next-generation operating system's
delivery for not 2005 but 2006, MSN chugs out a barrage of new consumer
products. Just in the last few months, MSN has unleashed testing versions of
a music
(now officially href="">launched),
overhauled IM
, href="">blogging
service, href="">Web search
service and now href="">desktop search
utility. More MSN goodies are coming, but I can't discuss them right

Being in the black and shipping successive
successful software product brings big kudos (and currency) to any
group. Is MSN running a renegade mentality? Have they overcome feature
fatigue? It will be interesting to see what happens to the V1 software. Does
it lend itself to V-next versions (where upon you run into the
increasingly common Microsoftie "coding is
whining when it comes to modifying
fragile/buggy/hard-to-understand code

Or is this all throw-away
productlets soon to be replaced by other V1 software?

Enough success
for group XYZ and the other groups will eventually be preached to about
being more like XYZ. How would your group react and what does that say about
your group?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Who is John Galt?

Recap - Microsoft homework:

Question #1: What is your 30 second
elevator speech about the product you're working on?

Question #2:
(new) When is it going to ship?

A link and then a link to that

Paul Vick
Hole projects - read the comments, too.
Dare Obasanjo
5a-bdef-a84206517cec">White Elephants and Ivory Towers at Microsoft -
links to the above and adds some commentary.

What's one White
Elephant in the room people are ignoring in your group?

I just flipped
through yet another new MSDN Magazine. I was so excited at first because one
of the articles was titled: C++ Rules. Damn straight it does, Sparky!
I flipped to page 58 as fast as I could only to see... what the... MSIL?
JIT? Interop and #pragma unmanaged - oh, crap. They duped me. I flipped back
and forth some more and it was CLR this and managed that. I've really got to
cancel my subscription here. What magazine best channels the spirit of href="">Raymond Chen?

I write
software for the end-user's machine, and it's going to be a pretty fudged-up
day in Hell before I *ship* managed code that gets installed on a user's
machine. It doesn't make sense. Oh, I might write a lot of high-quality
performant memory eating managed code for the foreseeable future. But is it
ever going to ship? Let me grab that Magic 8-ball for second...

of the Ivory Towers had to move to a new lane (off of Longhorn Boulevard)
when actual customer quality standards were set for Longhorn shipping in
2006 (well, plus that 2006 date).

Anyway. So you take your
Waste-o-Meter around Microsoft and find a Black Hole (how many points out of
14?), a White Elephant, or an Ivory Tower. Baby, you're staring at the
problem of us having too many people on the payroll without reasonable
accountability for their results. Trim them all now and at least let them
find another company to work for where they'll have the pleasure of
releasing software that makes a difference in the world.

Why do you
want to work on something that will never, ever, Release To Manufacturing?
Why? Well, why-else besides that mortgage payment?

Gates is no dummy
yet it's a mystery to me the obfuscated end-game he's concocted to let these
people type up a bunch of BS that will never see instantiation outside of
Microsoft. Is he just playing href="">John Galt without the
rest of us being in on the brain harvest he's pulled together (ah-ha-ha,
they work for me producing nothing that will ever compete with Microsoft and
then I emasculate them when the project is cancelled - ah-ha-ha -

Accomplishment: lots of books and magazine articles
written. Shareholder value: nil. Stock price: flat.

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Does Microsoft care about politically correct speech?

Just a quicky: here's a link back to href="">lushootseed's comments
about Microsoft and it's view of customers: href="
t-you.html">Does Microsft really care about you? Another Microsoftie! It
starts off with:

I have been watching Microsoft's moves in
the last couple of years and nothing that I see tells me we are heading in
the right direction. Does that mean it is going down? Not anytime soon. It
is going through what IBM went through in the last couple of decades with
and it would take a good few years before a major re-structuring happens
like in IBM. Here is why...

Part of this echoes with what
is bopping about in my little head right now: we are lavishing so much of
our efforts on pleasing the IT departments of the Fortune 500 that Microsoft
is fading more and more in the mind of everyday consumers. Our brand is
losing vibrancy. Not recognition. Just vibrancy.

Homework: what's your
30 second elevator speech regarding what you work on?

Another post by
lushootseed that brings a wry grin to my face: href="
.html">Ashcroft working for Microsoft? Sometime in the past half year
politically correct speak has trickled its way down through management and
it's quite the fun show: "Hey, did you know
you're in Bug Hell-I-mean-Jail?"
Or, color="#000080">"Could you please send me your status for this week's
War Team-I-mean-Team Status Meeting?"

There's this great
little wince at the "I-mean" part and
you can almost visualize the ^H's issuing out from their mind.

then my grin fades and I realize someone on the payroll is actually putting
time and effort into correcting terms that have been since long before I
joined Microsoft. Most of the people I used to work with would have quickly
called BS on this and went merrily about using the traditional terms. What's
scary is that we were told to use the new terms and *bang* everyone did.
What the hell?