Six Months in the Inside - Am I evil yet?
Yikes, I got an email from HR today that said "Congratulations on your 6th month anniversary at Microsoft!" Has it been that long? Apparently so, although it feels like maybe three months, tops.
I learned a lot about the culture in the first three weeks. There is a lot of groupthink and echo-chamber type behaviors from folks that have been there a long time, but most people I've interacted directly with are always re-asserting their independence and catching themselves thinking old-style thoughts, which is comforting to me.
It's one thing to exhibit an undesirable behavior, but it's much worse to be ignorant of that behavior. I think Microsoft's biggest problem right now is answers like "We've always done it that way," whether it's naming, versioning, documentation, conferences, whatever. I like to keep things a little more agile and tighten up the feedback loop. I think a process of continual improvement and self examination is so important.
What is my job?
I get this a lot. Seems like an obvious question. I took the title "Developer Division Community Liaison" because it was very broad. Phil likes to say I'm paid to be Scott Hanselman, but I don't like that very much because it implies some kind of punditry. If I ever start sounding Dvorak-esque, please let me know.
When my dad or the public (read: non-computer person) asks what my job is, I tell them "I'm writing a book that will never end (blog) and create training materials like videos and tutorials for Microsoft." When a technical person asks, I say the same thing with more detail. Also, if ScottGu coughs, I get him lozenges. Ahem. Yessir!
My boss runs http://www.asp.net, http://www.silverlight.net, http://www.windowsclient.net, etc, but our team is very small, only four FTE (Microsoft-speak for Full Time Employees). But, we're growing. At Microsoft we're graded on our ability to "meet our commitments" and my commitments (which were written up in a formal meeting) are mostly metrics like "write n number of significantly technical blog posts, write such-and-such book, give x number of presentations." Commitments are supposed to be a stretch, and I've got 7 different significant commitments so I've had some really late nights. The "liaison" portion of the job is also becoming more formalized in the next month, so I may take over some specific MVP-type groups.
This paragraph added for clarity (see comments): No, my job isn't to blog, although the blog is a good place to point to stuff I do. Folks originally wanted me to make a blog at msdn.com but I thought that was silly. For my day job, I do screencasts, tutorials, presentations, community outreach, books, articles for MSDN, internal presentations, advocate for the customer (this takes up more time than you'd think), provide direct feedback to the product groups, route your feedback (you know this if you've ever emailed me with a problem) and troubleshoot obscure bugs, as well as working on technical strategy with certain wonks at Microsoft. As I said in the Blue Badge post, the podcast is still belongs solely to Carl and me and I pick the guests with tips from the audience.
When I write, there's no editorialization, meaning that no-one reads my posts before I send them, although I often check with product groups to make sure I'm not completely wrong on some technical detail. Microsoft is pretty mellow and says "blog smart." That said, I'm sure I could get fired if I wrote something truly bogus, but otherwise there's no ghost writing. (Yes, ScottGu still writes his own posts...so far).
Sometimes ScottGu will email me with a one line note like this one yesterday about IIS7 and FTP7 "This might be a cool blog post to cover. It has a ton of new features (including integration with membership/roles), new admin tool and a bunch of cool new features."
However, I already had FTP7 on my list of cool things since I've been talking to the IIS7 team and that'll hopefully be done today or tomorrow. It's funny we usually think about the same general things and I'm mostly either a day ahead or a day behind whatever cool thing is going on.
Am I Evil yet?
I haven't been invited to any evil (or eeeveeel) meetings and haven't found the evil mailing list. As far as I can see Microsoft is less evil as it is unorganized. Within groups, communication is pretty good, but between divisions is trickier because there's always a doppleganger out there, like Evil Spock who is working on the same thing you're working on. I guess that means there's a Scott Hanselman out there without a goatee writing a similar post as this?
That pic is me in my early twenties. If Chins Could Kill...I'm trying to find a non-bearded pic but that's the best I can do! That guy doesn't look evil, right?
The Remote Office thing is still lonely, but I'm making up for it with regular lunches and LOTS of video conferencing thanks to ooVoo. My master plan to make a robot out of a Roomba has fizzled due to lack of a battery (and my lack of a mechanical engineering degree) that could last a full day. My new "Plan B" is get a 42" LCD (as seen at right) and make a Portal into my house.
What have I done well?
I thought the first practice videos turned out well, and I have taken all the feedback you've given and applied it to a new four-part tutorial on MVC that will be coming soon, hopefully formalizing those best practices.
I think the Wiki (beta) is turning out pretty cool. I seeded it, but there's already contributors who have exceeded the number of posts I've added and greatly improved it. I think there's a lot of work we can do to make the administration better for moderators, but it's looking nice regardless, so far.
I've had a lot of fun speaking lately. When I spoke while I was working at Corillian, I usually had to take vacation days or do it on the
sly side, although for large conferences my boss at the time was exceedingly cool about it.
What have I done poorly?
I am not managing my time very well and since we've got a 3 month old and an enthusiastic 2 year old and I'm working from home I feel like days are very fragmented. It's good to be home, but my wife thinks I'm actually around less which is definitely a not good thing to feel. I need to do a better job of getting up earlier and banging out work. I like being informed, but I think I may need to go on an info-diet to find more time to get things done.
Have you started a new job in the last year? How is going for you?
- Blue Badge
- Microsoft - Surviving First Three Weeks as a Remote Employee
- New Job, New House, New Baby, and Designing a Totally New Home Office
- Your Opinion Matters - Screencast Techniques Survey RESULTS