Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Compromise

The seller and I have settled on $375,000. It's $5,000 more than my "max price," but it's on my "half" of the gap between my original offer and the selling price, so I guess I "won." It's $15,000 more than what I feel it's worth, but in reality, it will probably appreciate that much in a few months. (It's funny how one can complain that the price of a menu item in the cafeteria has gone up 40¢ and then shrug off $15,000...)

I'm doing it. I'm going to be a homeowner.

As soon as I sign these last thousand pages of ridiculous documents.

And as long as the stock market doesn't keep tanking and I can no longer make a down payment.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Offer up

Well, they didn't like my offer. They countered with another unreasonable price, $385,000. Sigh. I haven't decided exactly what I'll do just yet.

Selling out

I've got a bunch of Microsoft stock that I need to sell in order to make a down payment on "my" place. Who thinks they know when I should sell it? I was thinking this Wednesday or Thursday, but I don't know what I'm doing.

Offer down

The offer is down. The contracts are signed, the check is written, and the waiting begins. I'll know tomorrow what they think of it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Múm's the word

The short version:
Múm—Summer Make Good: 3/10


One CD that I've also been listening to a bit recently is Múm's latest, Summer Make Good. It's the first Múm CD that I've heard, and I can't say that I really like it. It's really, really weird, and the minimalistic vocalist has an awful voice. I get this impression that you're supposed to be embarrassed if you say you don't like it, in some kind of Emperor's New Album sort of way. It's artsy and pretentious. While the album has a lot of interesting, dreamy, dark soundscapes, it's hard to say that I really "like" any particular track on here all that much. Three good examples are Nightly Cares, The Island of the Children's Children, and Will the Summer Make Good for All of Our Sins? All of these sound best a little louder than I normally listen to music; if the volume is too low, you won't hear all of the delightful little bits of weirdness in the background, and those are just about the only saving grace on the disc for me.

Had the disc been on Napster when I ordered it, I wouldn't have. But, if I'd known that I'd like their previous album Finally We Are No One much better, I very well might have ordered that. So far, it sounds much more pleasant and happy and perky; I'm enjoying Green Grass of Tunnel and Don't Be Afraid, You Have Just Got Your Eyes Closed. It's still about the maximum level of weird that I can tolerate right now, but I may check their previous CD out someday.


If that's not your thing, I've also been listening to the Bond album Shine a lot recently, after noticing that I never added any songs from it to my main playlist, even though every track there deserves it. It's a great CD that I nearly forgot I owned, a string quartet that pumps out fun, danceable songs. (I have their other CDs as well, and all are amusing.) Check out Ride and Shine if you're depressed from listening to those first Múm tracks.

It's happening

It's happening... I'm putting an offer down on a townhome tomorrow. Three hundred and sixty (expletive) thousand dollars, at the remotest end of feasible. There's no guarantee that I'll get it for that much; they're asking $400,000. That's just way too much, though; that's tens of thousands more than a unit in the same condition about 20% larger sold for just last year. My agent and I both did our own investigations and math, and both came out to $360,000 as the top value for this place. So, negotiations will be interesting. I've never exactly negotiated a difference of $40,000.

Out of homes in this area that are actually within my price range, it's pretty much my dream home. A few blocks from Microsoft, it's a free-standing townhome, which basically makes it like a small house, except I pay someone else to take care of the yard and the exterior maintenance, and I get access to the clubhouse and pool and gym and such.



It's got three bedrooms, more than I need, and two bathrooms, and it's on a cobblestone road in a strangely secluded little area. The inside is reasonably spacious at 1150 square feet, though it's pretty old and ugly. The kitchen is pretty hideous, decorated in dingy yellow and off-white, with a stove that looks like it's from 1960.



I'll probably end up replacing just about everything in the kitchen once I get settled in and deal with the high-priority things, like lack of air conditioning.

It meets or exceeds just about everything I'm looking for in a place, so I decided that if I could get this one, I don't even need to look at any more. (I've only toured about ten places so far, though I've checked out a couple dozen more online.) I can see myself living there. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Golf 2.0

Traditionally, to suck up in the business world, you arrange a game of golf with a person in a position of power, either on the same side as that person, or playing against them and intentionally losing. I've known this since before I even knew that real golf was not a somehow-larger version of miniature golf.

Over drinks (none of which were mine) today at the SharePoint Designer developers morale event, I was talking with my manager's manager, and found out that not only does he play World of Warcraft, but he considers himself an avid fan. I suppose that in order to suck up successfully, I would need to either run a dungeon with him and bond, or an arena match against him and lose intentionally. I must admit that I'm not good at this sucking up stuff.

World of Warcraft: Golf 2.0.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Overhead scrolling shooters in real life

This morning, on the way to work, the sidewalk was particularly bad. I counted eight dog turds on the sidewalk during my journey of less than ten minutes. Dodging dog crap at 12 miles per hour became a game of sorts.

Choosing a home

As far as I can think of right now, there are a few reasons one might go touring homes with a real estate agent.
  • Having never done it before, you want to get a feel of what it's like to go house-shopping.
  • You want to see how nice of a place a certain amount of money gets you in a particular market.
  • Your real estate agent is hot and you're just making an excuse.
  • You've turned to a life of crime, and are casing the location for later theft.

But none of those things describe me. By the process of elimination and sweeping generalizations, there's only one reason for me to do it:

Because I'm actually seriously planning on buying a home. From the outside, it probably seems like I'm going insane or something. Why does he keep posting the same thing about being excited and anxious about moving? Maybe I am insane. It's still hard for me to believe exactly what's about to happen. I'm basically getting married. Whichever place I pick, I'm stuck with it. Sure, I can divorce it and move out if I just can't make things work, but it's messy and drawn out. The big difference is that I'm getting married in a matter of days or weeks, and I haven't even met my bride yet.

This weekend, I'm going to fall in love. Or, at least, I hope to.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

dirdir

Occasionally I think about how much software distribution has changed over my lifetime. When I was younger, I remember that COMPUTE magazine would come with a big, thick newsprint pullout section in the middle that contained hex codes that you could type into a command line editor to produce a program. Back in earlier versions of MS-DOS (maybe before DOS 5?) there was no command to list all of the directories under your current directory. (It's dir /ad today.) So, one issue of COMPUTE came with half a page of hex codes to type in to produce a program that would do just that, called dirdir.

That seemed like it would be useful. So, one day I sat there in front of the computer and typed something to the effect of

e 0000 0A 4C 33 28 DE E8 12 08 78 C3 B7 DA AD E2 C3 9A

over and over again for like half an hour. It was awful. After a line (or several lines?) you'd get another code that you'd match up to the one printed in the magazine. If they differed, you'd know you made a mistake and had to go back and retype the last chunk.

Now we have programs that automatically download updates to themselves from the internet, and games that stream new worlds and new characters in the background to you while you play.

Technology is great.

(I think that's as close as I'm going to ever get to a "punch cards" story.)

Idiot

I just had an awkward moment with my manager's manager. We were having a 1-on-1 meeting, and it was looking like it was going to end about 10-15 minutes early since we were running out of things to discuss. He asked, "Anything else you'd like to talk about? This is your time—your time to let me know how things are going." I said I didn't have anything else I needed to talk about, and he replied "Well, I guess no news can be good news" and started to leave. In reply, I got a goofy grin on my face, gave a thumbs-up, and said in a stupid voice, "Good managin'!" He gave me an odd glare and left. I knew right as I was starting that ridiculousness that it was stupid and I shouldn't do it, but it was too late to stop myself.


Currently listening: Pandora

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My life summarized in numbers

The credit union can summarize my life history in one number, 786. Nothing like statistical generalizations to make you feel just a little bit helpless.

What if you could get a single number that represented how good of a date someone was in the past? I can imagine some woman who considers Paris Hilton one of her personal heroes and likes to tell people that she only dates men with a 800 FICO and a 820 DateMark. Then a guy could freak out about not being able to get a date for seven years because once he didn't do anything for Valentine's Day because the girl said it "wasn't that important," but then knocked 180 points off his score for skipping it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

L0wn3d

Well, I went to talk to loan officer of my credit union today. Things actually went pretty smoothly. She's so nice that I'd feel bad not getting a loan from her now. After our meeting, I faxed her the last financial documents this afternoon, and tomorrow morning we have a nice, long, 90-minute chat over the phone. Then, I'll head back over there later tomorrow afternoon to pick up a signed piece of paper that says to prospective sellers that I'm good for four hundred grand or so. That's kind of terrifying.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Not commutative

The short version:
Anggun—Snow on the Sahara: 4/10
Anggun—Luminescence: 9/10
The Roots—Game Theory: 7/10


I've been listening to (what I believe is) Anggun's debut album, Snow on the Sahara. It's really light pop, mostly sung in French. And... it's pretty forgettable. Nothing on this CD really sticks out or makes you want to check out any future Anggun albums. The best tracks on here are A Rose in the Wind (video) and Dream of Me (0:30 clip).

But, it's a good thing that I heard her latest album first. Anggun's Luminescence is great! It's much more upbeat and fun. In contrast to Snow, it was tough picking just a few favorites from here. For me, this is one of those CDs that you start again immediately after it finishes. Anggun's got a beautiful, powerful voice, and the accompaniment is excellent. There's a variety of styles on the disc, from electronic pop to rock to easy listening to the dance remixes at the end of the album. For a good sampling, check out Cesse la Pluie (video for Transporter II), to which I'm addicted, Être une Femme (video), Quelqu'un, and Human.

Finally, I checked out the latest disc from The Roots, Game Theory. Overall it's a fine rap CD, but at best it's my third favorite Roots CD, after Phrenology and The Tipping Point. Even though it's not one of my favorites, there are plenty of good tracks on here. The Roots sort of bill themselves are more serious, less pop-oriented rap music, though they've had their share of radio-friendly singles. Some of the songs on here are kind of intense. My favorite tracks on this disc are Baby featuring John-John of Nouveau Riche, Here I Come featuring Dice Raw of Nouveau Riche and Malik B., and Long Time featuring Peedi Peedi and Bunny Sigler, all great. This is another CD with a lot of different styles all on one disc—in contrast to my three favorites, you might check out Don't Feel Right (0:30) and In the Music.

The hunt begins

I've started seriously looking at places to buy now. The average price of the condos I'm looking at is $300,000, which is game show money, not real money. It's too large of a sum of money for me to think of it as money. Instead, it's just some number associated with the place, kind of like its MLS (Multiple Listing Service) number.

Some of the things I'm looking at in a condo:
  • Under $350,000. Holy crap, why would someone give me $350,000? This one actually narrows down the list of places available a lot.
  • A heat pump or at least forced air heating. A heat pump would provide me with air conditioning during the summer. Growing up in Nebraska, air conditioning is no longer an optional creature comfort; it's as essential as drinking water. A place with central heating could be converted to also provide air conditioning. A place with baseboard heating is a lost cause; baseboard heating automatically disqualifies the place.
  • Reasonably close to Microsoft. I don't want to have to buy a car, and I'd really rather not take the bus. Unfortunately, there are very few options near Microsoft at the moment. I may end up getting a place in Kirkland or Yarrow Point, WA, and taking a bus, though I loathe the idea. I hate commutes.

There used to be a lot more things there, but those three criteria are already strict enough that they don't even yield a dozen places as it is. I kept lowering standard after standard until I reached the above list. Next week I'll be talking to banks and touring places, taking notes and pictures. Very soon after that, I'll have to pick one. This is crazy.

Upgrade

I was finally given the option to upgrade to the new version of Blogger, so I did. This gives me the ability to add labels to my posts so you can find related posts I've made in the past. I'm not planning on going back through 1000 posts and adding labels to all of them, but I labeled a few in the archives to try it out. Look for "Labels:" at the bottom of future posts.

I can also now make blog.travisspomer.com the primary address of this blog, and the old address will automatically redirect to this one. Since those updates take a while to propagate, my blog might disappear off the face of the internet this weekend.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

It begins

I've sent the email. I've started down the path to home ownership. Soon I will be signing contracts that put me into debt for longer than I've even been alive. To me, that's basically an infinite length of time.

Sigh.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Snicker

I just realized that the two guys on our team with girls' names share an office: Alexis and Amber. I imagine that 99% of Americans who saw the names Alexis and Amber would assume that two girls shared that office without giving it a second thought.

For some reason I think that's kind of funny.

Sad but true part 2

I recently stated that I was looking forward to the first "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" commercials targeting Vista. Someone updated me via the comments on that post that they already had one, and it was kind of disappointing.

This is the one I was looking for: "Security." It's pretty much exactly what I was expecting. I am now pleased.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Googlestalking

What makes Googlestalking less creepy than regular stalking? If one person says that they went to where the county records are kept and researched you, and another person says that they Googled your name and found out weird stuff about you, you'd be more creeped out at the first person.

Is it the amount of effort required? Maybe it's creepy for someone to spend a lot of time finding out personal things about you, but not if it's really easy.

It's even more creepy to actually follow someone around, of course. That requires a lot of effort and time, and there's the element of physical proximity. You can Googlestalk anyone from anywhere in the world.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I just won't run for office; that's all

Occasionally I think about how everything I write here will be preserved forever, archived by Google and the likes. That's sort of creepy. If I say something I shouldn't have, I can't un-say it later, just like in real life. This doesn't frequently have much of an effect on things that I say (I'm keepin' it real, yo), but I do have to at least keep it in mind.

Let's say there's an intern on my team, and I decide to post one of the following things about her:

"A new intern joined the team this week. I haven't talked to her much yet, but wow... hot."

"This week I've been exchanging a lot of emails with the intern. I don't know how exactly she got this job, but it certainly wasn't through competence. At least she's cute."

"Recently I've been eating lunch with one of the new intern girls quite a lot. It's strange, but I find myself really wishing she gets a job with our team; I'll hate for this to all end for good at the end of the summer."

All of those things, while potentially true, are embarrassing for different reasons if the person in question finds the post at some point in time. Maybe she finds it by accident, or adds me as a friend or Facebook, or something like that. If she goes through the post history, she'd find one about her. Creepy for her, embarrassing for me.

(This strikes me as a relatively new problem. A decade ago, nobody blogged, there was no Facebook or MySpace, and this sort of thing was unlikely to be a problem for anyone. Now it's pretty routine for some of your personal thoughts to end up archived on the internet forever in some way or another, whether or not you intended it.)

Finding a way to balance that unfortunate aspect of things with actually wanting to post things that relate to me personally instead of just random quotes or musings can actually be difficult. But, usually, I have to end up eliminating all assessments of people I know or might know in the future. I imagine it detracts from the context of the post, which is unfortunate. But, I think that being vague on the internet is better in the long run than later regretting a post I made long ago.


Currently listening: Linkin Park and Jay-Z—Collision Course—Faint / Jigga What

(Five years from now, am I really going to want it to be archived for all time that I was listening to that?)

Puzzlehunt

Every year, Microsoft has an event called Puzzlehunt. People assemble teams to go to Microsoft over the weekend and do nothing but solve brain teaser puzzles competitively over the course of the weekend. Every year people try to get me to go to this thing, and every year I think about it and eventually decline. It just sounds... too much.

As an intern, I did the intern version, Intern Puzzleday. The difference is that Puzzleday is one day, and has dumbed-down puzzles for the interns. Puzzlehunt is the whole weekend. Many people don't sleep at all over the weekend, opting to spend Sunday hopped up on something solving puzzles for more than thirty hours straight. I actually find the idea of Puzzleday much more appealing; one day of doing nothing but solving puzzles in a team sounds much more tolerable to me than two. I need my weekends to do stuff and sleep.

Intern Puzzleday was an interesting affair. The hundreds and hundreds of interns met up in a big conference room to distribute the puzzles put togther by the full-timers, and then raced to our assigned buildings and smaller conference rooms, along with the snacks and beer that the team captains set up. I'm thinking that the Intern Puzzleday was about 25 puzzles, and that Puzzlehunt is about 50 tougher ones, but that's mostly an irrelevant detail. Some of the puzzles had instructions or hints of some sort, and some had nothing. Our team gave out puzzles to people based on their declared strengths, and then those people started thinking. If the thinking wasn't very productive, they'd put the puzzle down and look for another one to solve, or start working with someone else on the team.

I don't actually even remember details about the puzzles for the most part, which is why I've been so vague thus far. But I do remember one. There was another intern on the FrontPage team when I was interning by the name of Sharif. He pulled a puzzle he hadn't seen before out of the stack. The puzzle was just a Photoshopped picture of candy conversation hearts with nonsense messages, like "IRU R" and "WT NOQT." Sharif looked at the picture for about five seconds, and started translating the candy hearts into English, almost as fast as he could write. He had finished the thing in a couple minutes, after many other people had just stared at it and never made it past the "here's my idea of what this puzzle might be stage." In a few seconds he had determined that the hearts contained non-Valentine's-related English messages abbreviated like a text message and then encoded with a cryptogram, and begun unscrambling the cryptogram.

That event was one of the creepiest instances of incredible mental acuity I've ever seen in my life.

It was fun for a while, but I was getting pretty tired of brain teasers by the end of a Saturday after like eight or ten hours... I can't imagine how sick of brain teasers I'd be after three times that long. Maybe it would be crazy fun, and I'm missing out.


Currently listening: Delerium—After All

Friday, February 9, 2007

What the fingernail

I don't know what the deal is, but my fingernails barely grew at all last week. As I recently mentioned (twice, actually; you'd think I had a creepy finger fetish), I clip my nails reliably on Fridays. But right now my fingernails are about the same length as if I had just clipped them. They don't seem to have grown at all.

I find this very weird. Perhaps it happens more often than I realize, and I just have never noticed this until now.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Player versus Player

I think I'm beginning to more completely understand why, in certain games, I don't like "player versus player" (PVP) action. I think it has a lot to do with my generally non-competitive nature. [I originally wrote "anticompetitive" there, but decided that was a poor choice of language for someone who works at Microsoft. —Ed.] I like games where players cooperate toward a common goal, or are mostly independent from one another, or where the focus of the game is player-versus-player rivalry. What I strongly dislike is when a game is "mostly" one of the first two, but has PVP sprinkled in.

Here are some examples of each type of game I'm talking about.

Cooperative, common goal—Arkham Horror, World of Warcraft when playing in a group
Mostly independent—Princes of Florence (often called "multiplayer solitaire"), standard racing games, Monopoly, Clue
One of those with PVP sprinkled in—Runebound, World of Warcraft on a PVP server
Focusing on PVP—Unreal Tournament, Worms, Mario Kart, Starcraft, Command and Conquer, Magic: The Gathering, ...

My anti-competitive, friendly nature makes it very difficult to rationalize or even think of hurting others to further my own goals. Yet in Runebound, an RPG-like board game, this is often what you must do to do well. If another player has spent a couple turns fighting monsters and hasn't been particularly successful, the best move is probably to hit him while he's down and steal his stuff. I can't stand that, to the point that I don't want to play the game ever again unless we play without the ability to PVP. I don't want my success in the game to be measured by how often I picked on people who didn't deserve it, but rather success versus the "common enemy," the monsters on the board.

In World of Warcraft, on a PVP server, players of one faction can fight players of the other faction while they're out questing, playing the game as normal. I have considerable experience on a PVP server, and at the time it seemed fine, because I hadn't experienced just how much more fun the game is on a normal server. Essentially, what it boils down to, is that playing on a PVP server means that you spend 60 levels (now 70, I suppose) being constantly killed by players more powerful than you. You're off doing a quest, having fun, fighting monsters, and then suddenly you're approached by someone who is so much more powerful than you that the game won't even display your level to you (it shows up as ??). This happens several times an hour. Often after they kill you once, they hang around your corpse so once you resurrect to start playing again, they can easily chase you down and kill you again. You learn strategies to avoid this, by fighting in strange, obscure areas, avoiding the common roads, and playing at odd hours, but it's a nuisance, and I didn't find it fun in the slightest. I spent half of my play time as a ghost, running to find my freshly slaughtered corpse. I would have quit the game long before had I not started a second character with my friend Marc on a normal server.

Anyway, I can't stand those mechanics. They just aren't fun to me. There's no reward to me in kicking someone once they're down, or even when they're not down, but focused on another task. There's certainly no reward in the feeling of "danger" that I can and will be interrupted and killed by other players at any time. There are people who do find that amusing, and while I think that's just bizarre, good for them. I don't know for certain whether I dislike that very concept of mixing PVP with non-PVP, or whether it just always ends up sucking because I have this broken sense of honor and people in general are assholes, but I know I don't like it.

On the other hand, games which are only competitive are perfectly fine for me. There are a ton of these; they're the majority of multiplayer video games. I certainly don't feel bad about finding myself a good nook, whipping out the sniper rifle, and pecking peoples' heads off from a distance. I don't feel bad about firing a turtle shell at other drivers in Mario Kart, or launching a nuclear strike against my foes in Command and Conquer. It's a mandatory part of the game, and I fully expect the same from the other players.

Of course, my metric for deciding whether a game is the type of game I like is very subjective. I might think that a particular game is "all non-PVP," and someone else might think that the same game is totally oriented around PVP. It's all perception.

Luckily for me, there is a wide variety of different styles of games to choose from.

Moist and dry

This morning I put in my contacts and realized that I had had an eye appointment weeks ago but hadn't received my contact lenses yet. I was completely out. So, I went to the main office, and sure enough, there they were. I took them back to my apartment, and then took out my old left contact, and put in one of the new ones. Ahhh, much better. I did the same for my right eye... except I forgot to take the old one out. I ended up with two well-stuck-together contacts in my right eye, which was clearly uncomfortable, so I took them out and fixed the problem.

I think I threw away the wrong contact. My left eye is moist and happy, and my right eye is dry and uncomfortable. I've had my new contacts for a few hours, and I've already ruined one.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Cherry menthol crises

When I started at Microsoft, the first aid kits in the kitchens had signs on them reminding people that they were for emergency use only. At first this seems reasonable, but they're very large first aid kits, and if you open them, you see that most of the things in them are in no way suited for emergencies. There's gauze, alcohol, large bandages, cloth wraps, and the like... but there's also ibuprofen, cold and sinus medication, and cough drops. When was the last time you had a cough drop emergency—some kind of cherry menthol crisis? It didn't make much sense; clearly those items were there for the general well-being of the office and not just emergencies.

They've since removed the sign.


Currently listening: Zero 7—This Fine Social Scene

Bluetooth

At lunch today we reached a joint resolution that it would be totally awesome to have a Star Trek-style communicator that was actually a Bluetooth headset for a mobile phone. This would work especially well with custom ringtones and voice activation.

Of course, this group also included a person who speaks and reads Klingon and sets his watch to UTC because it's "more convenient."

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Look harder

Windows Vista has search boxes everywhere. While this is nice, I have little use for it. I meticulously organize things. My Start menu is slim, trimmed, and efficient. I keep my inbox empty and my emails painstakingly sorted. Given just about any file on my computer, I usually know right where it is. I'm just organized like that.

But one place where I really, really like the feature is the Add or Remove Programs control panel, now the Programs and Features control panel. The things in there I don't have control over, and thus I often can't find what I'm looking for. The latest release of WPF/E (it doesn't matter what that is) requires that I uninstall the previous version. Oh, okay, I'll just do that.

But wait... where is it? I've got a billion programs in that list. Before Vista I'd have to first wait a ridiculously long time for the dialog to come up in the first place, and then I'd have to scan through the awful dialog alphabetically. (At least it's easier to read than the awful version from Windows 95...) But you never know where things are going to be sorted. Where's WPF/E?

Is it under Microsoft WPF/E?
Is it under WPF/E?
It's an unreleased product. Is it under Microsoft Codename WPF/E?
Is it under Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere?

All of those things are possible, so you have to either read every item in the list, or find at least those four places and look for it. As it turns out, in this particular example, you'd still not find it. It turns out that it's...

"WPF/E" (codename) Community Technology Preview (Feb 2007)

Ugh. Because of the quotation mark, it doesn't sort with any of the possibilities I listed above. On any previous release of Windows, it would be a pain. But, in Vista, you just click in the search box and type wpf and you find it.

This is the way things should be. It's a pity that search boxes were so rare until the past few years.

Triage

I've just returned from the Office Triage session, which was an interesting experience. As Office gets closer to shipping, changes to the products have to go through the Triage process before they can make it onto the eventual DVD. 2007 Office has shipped just about everywhere, but not Portugal yet. There's a bug in the Portugal Portuguese version of SharePoint Designer (not to be confused with the Brazil Portuguese version) where parts of the UI show up in English instead of Portuguese. The bug wasn't my fault, but it affected my features most, so I fixed it a while ago when I found out about it. I won't go into the gritty details of the process after that, but it ends in a representative of the product team going in front of Triage to argue the fix.

Their goal is simple: to make product teams fight to get their fixes into the product. It's sort of like a trial, condensed into a few minutes, and they're the Supreme Court. They make sure that the fix has been extensively tested, and that I've done all of the little "process" things I need to in order to get the build lab to produce official Office patches for me. It keeps people from taking shortcuts that might result in unintended side-effects down the road. Unless something incredibly bad pops up very soon, my small change is the last change that will happen to Portuguese SharePoint Designer 2007 before it ships. They're not taking any chances.

There, I'm an outsider. I'm the spiky-haired guy in the long black coat riding a Segway through a building where I don't belong, looking for a room full of people who get paid way more than I do, really hoping that I find it on time, hoping that I filled out the forms properly before I left my office.

It was sort of a neat experience to go through, and I'll most likely be able to say that I made the final change to the product before they burned the discs. I was the last one to virtually "touch" them before they went out to thousands of customers.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Packing

I spent Saturday helping a couple of friends move. At the very least, I know one person two people who just moved, one couple who is actively moving right now, and another who is getting ready to move. I'm not quite to the point where I'd say I'm "getting ready to move," but I'm getting ready to get ready to move, I suppose. Anyway, after coming back from the moving adventure, I walked around my apartment for a few minutes.

I don't think moving will be that big of a deal for me. I expect it to be relatively painless as moves go, and I tend to overestimate the badness of just about everything. I've kept much of my things in my original moving boxes, and I threw or gave away massive piles of things I never thought I'd want again when I first moved out here. (Another few boxes are books that I was going to donate more than two and a half years ago and forgot about; oops.)

Since I don't plan on moving very far, I can move a lot of things without having to repack them; they'll just require a little extra care when moving. I'm going to have movers come and move the furniture, and the only things that look like they're going to be much of a hassle at all are my racks and racks and shelves of CDs and DVDs, and the stuff in my kitchen. I'm still going to take a week or two off work to get things done, but now I'm beginning to think that the packing and moving process is actually going to be very easy for me compared to actually selecting a place to live and paying for it.


Currently listening: The Roots and John-John of Nouveau Riche—Baby

Saturday, February 3, 2007

When you can complete someone else's... sentences

Tonight in the car:

A: I think I... pause so much when I talk so Travis has plenty of time to—
Me: Interrupt!
A: —me.

For some reason I was very pleased with myself for making that work.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Bad luck

As it turns out, there's a superstition that clipping your fingernails on Friday brings bad luck for the next week. Oops.

Yee-haw

To make fun of the French, you add "les" ("LAY") to everything you say, perhaps snort and laugh nasally, or say "ooh-la-la." Perhaps you limpen your wrist to further the image.

To make fun of the British, you act stuck-up and bring out your best fake British accent. Come on; everyone's got one.

To make fun of the Japanese, you change the letter "L" to "R," say "ohhhhhhh" a lot, and speak quickly with broken grammar.

We're not very good at making fun of Mexicans; usually we just name menu items at Taco Bell.

How do you make fun of Americans?

It probably differs a lot depending on where you are. The Spanish, for example, probably have a very different way of making fun of the French. I'm thinking that typical American jokes involve a hick accent and pretending to be stupid. This was probably the case even before our current president. Anybody know?


Currently listening: The Roots, Dice Raw of Nouveau Riche, and Malik B.—Here I Come