Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

Questions? Do I get questions?

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

In short yes I do. I have gotten used to being asked all sorts of questions. Apparently people expect me to know about everything even remotely related to Microsoft.

  • “My printer doesn’t talk to my new computer?”
  • “When is such and such a product coming out?”
  • “What can you say about this court case Microsoft is in?”
  • “Such and such product doesn’t want to install, can you tell me why?”

Answers? Yeah, sometimes I have answers. People don’t like all of them though. For example, the printer not talking to your computer is probably because you don’t have an updated driver and that is the printer companies responsibility not Microsoft’s. It’s amazing how often I get asked about hardware BTW. Not the rare piece of hardware that Microsoft actually sells under their own name but some object that is advertised as working with Windows.

And the occasional Apple question. Why? No idea. I guess because it is a computer.

For products, Microsoft comes out with all sorts of products all the time. I don’t work with all of them. I’m not a gamer and I don’t work in the game group so I have no idea (or much interest most of the time) when new editions of games are coming out. And if I knew but it hasn’t been announced publically I can’t (will not) tell you any way. Chances are that if the product/game/what ever is important to you than you already know as much about the release date as I do. And if I know more?  Sorry, but I really like my job and announcing product release dates is way above my pay grade.

Court case? My understanding with the lawyers is that I don’t comment on legal issues and they don’t write code. We’re all better off that way. Oh you want my personal opinion? Sorry, I don’t know you well enough to share that. And you know, I really do like my job.

Few people ever have enough information for me to diagnose an install problem. I need to know every other piece of software they have installed, every version, every error message they have seen and even then there is a great chance that the product is outside my area of expertise.  Sigh! Though I do try when I can.

I don’t mind the questions BTW.  I get more frustrated with myself when I can’t help. But I really like it when I can help. So as long as people ask I will do my best to answer. But I don’t know everything.

When Software Just Works

Monday, February 16th, 2009

For a number of reasons I have been upgrading the software on my laptops lately. The one I am working on was basically a wipe and reinstall. It was time. This meant I have been installing software. One of the tools I use a lot is Windows Live Writer. For a while I have been upgrading rather than doing a clean install. This is great because it means I don’t have to reset up all my blogs – I use WLW for four different blogs all on different blogging platforms.

But with a clean install to a wiped system I had to reset them all. Step one is to fire up the wizard and point to my blog – in this case Then it asks me for my username and password. Off it goes and it figured out everything else I needed automatically. This all worked just as easily for Live Spaces, Community Server and Blogger. Well I had to tell it that I was using blogger but that’s not much in the way of extra steps. Live Spaces I told it to use Live Spaces and gave it my Live Id and it was even faster. It was all so easy.

Why doesn’t every application around work that easily?

I’m a PC and I’m Four and a Half

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

I think this is about as cute a software commercial as I have ever seen.

Video: Kylie

Microsoft Tags

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Playing around with creating tags that can be read by smart phones. Information on the tool at or go to from your web enabled phone. US only right now. What phones? From the FAQ:

The Microsoft Tag Reader is available for most smartphones and many feature phones. It is available on Windows Mobile, J2ME, iPhone, Blackberry, and Symbian S60 phones. Of course, your phone needs a camera and it must have Internet-access. A detailed list of all supported phones is available and new phones will be added over time.

Links to my vCard online.


Links to my other blog.


How well do you use search engines?

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

One of the things that amazes me is how poorly many people are at using Internet search engines. Students are particularly bad at it. You would be amazed at what they can’t find. Recently I found out about a game called Page Hunt.

A brief blurb about the game:

This game is like search in reverse:  you’re shown a web page, which you have to ‘hunt down’ using queries sent to Live Search.

When you see the web page, think of a set of terms that would return this page.

You type these words  into a search box. Page Hunt shows the top 5 results for this query from Microsoft’s Live Search.

You get points if the web page you’re ‘hunting’ is one of these top 5 result pages: 100 points if it’s at position 1, 90 points at position 2 etc. If you don’t get it right, change the query and try hunting again. If you get it right, you advance to the next page.

Occasionally, you’ll see very frequent queries listed for a page. If you don’t use these queries to hunt these pages, you’ll get a 50% bonus when you crack that page. And sometimes, just for fun, we give you other bonuses!

If you move the mouse away from the search box, it becomes slightly transparent, so you can see the page better. You can also move the box around if you like. If you get stuck on a page, you can click on the Skip button to go to the next web page, with no penalty in your score. If you encounter a page which does not render properly, or is bad in any way, click on the Bad Page button to flag it.

Each session of the game is 3 minutes long. At the end of a session, you get your session score. At the end of a session, you can review each page, the searches you tried and the results you got from Live Search.

The game uses Silverlight, so you may be prompted to load Silverlight when you first run it. 

Page Hunt is actually part of a research project that is trying to improve online search by looking at how people actually use search. How metadata is used and other attributes of both web pages and the way people form queries. So if you think online search could be better playing this game may help improve things. And honestly I find it fun trying to find out how many pages I can “find” in the 3 minute time period.

My best score so far is 520. Anyone else beat that?

I should be playing Gears of War II

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

I have a tough job. Long hours, lots of travel, struggling to keep up with the latest products, etc. Recently I was in a local office and someone handed me a copy of Gears of War II which I am told is quite the game. I haven’t played it yet though. I guess I really should.

I have an Xbox. Actually there are two in the house. Mrs. T got one for Christmas the other year and the company sent me one to use for demos. So I don’t really have an excuse for not playing. And clearly I am going to be at an event (or several) in the coming months where Gears of War II will be played. People tend to expect MSFT employees to know how to play. I get something of a pass because of course I am “old.” But still…

I keep wasting time on meetings, phone calls, email, writing for my blog, researching for a project I am doing and other more traditional work things. I may just have to re-think my priorities.

Now These I Get

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

This is the basic digital lifestyle sort of video. I’ve seen it a number of times and am surprised Microsoft doesn’t make more of it.

This one is a fun look at business and the new Microsoft Office.

Latest Bill and Jerry Video

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

It’s about 4.5 minutes long and you can see it here. I think its kind of funny. More on the what’s this all about here.

Trying Out Browsers

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

I’ve got a couple of browsers on my laptop. IE of course. FireFox and Safari as well. Over the weekend I installed IE 8 beta 2 to try out. And today I installed Chrome from Google. Why not? Everyone else is.

For the time being I will stay with IE 8 though. The address search on IE8 and Chrome is similar but the one on IE 8 works better for me. The tabs on Chrome are on the top of the screen which bugs me. It is not as convenient and seems to be a change for the sake of being different and not for any good reason I can see. Also Chrome does not support Silverlight and Photosynth and I need those. So major fail there. Hopefully they will fix that.

I do like the default tab on Chrome. It shows your most frequently opened pages. The default tab on IE 8 shows the pages you have most recently closed which I do find quite useful though so it is not a huge edge there for Chrome. I am used to bringing up a number of pages at once from the favorites menu. I have a couple of groups that I use for specific purposes. One hit and they all open. I haven’t figured out how to do that with Chrome or even if it is possible.

So Chrome may be the hot new thing but there are plenty of reasons for me not to use it and not really any compelling reasons to use it. Well it was worth trying.

Is This What Evil Looks Like?

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

I just came across a blog called Microspotting which is all about short interviews with Microsoft employees. The author is giving away some shirts to ‘softies that say “I am the empire” which is sort of a cool idea. It sort of says “that evil empire you are talking about is me” and puts a personal face to it. I’ve suggested spelling it out and having a shirt that says “does this look like the face of evil to you?” But I’m not sure that’s exactly how I want to say it.

My job is largely to put a personal face on Microsoft – show people we’re not all bad and evil and out to take over the world. I have found that a little humor goes a long way. Some people seem not expect Microsoft employees to actually have a sense of humor. But really we do.