Tag Archives: microsoft

Bing LEGO mosaic

bing_lego-022-EditThis is a simple project I’ve been working on during the weekends lately. It’s the Bing logo done in LEGO plates. I’ll be moving it into my office soon.

It took maybe 6 hours of work and is about 3.4ft (1m) wide.

Feel free to leave comments at flickr, or check it out at my other LEGO posting sites (there are a couple of other shots of it):

Malware Detection in Live Search and Webmaster Tools

Live Search has recently released some great new features that I want to highlight. The first is from the Webmaster center, which is the team I was hired on.

With the new Webmaster Tools, you can now see which pages on your site are infected with malware (aka drive-by downloads). The links are clearly highlighted and disabled so that you won’t accidentally click on them.


Not only that, but you can also see what pages that your site links to are infected with malware. This is great if your site allows any user-generated content and it’s possible that some link spam has made it on.


In addition to these improvements in Webmaster Tools, the general Live Search engine is using the same malware detection to notify users of bad pages in the general search results. To see this, click on the link as if to visit it and you’ll get a pop-up instead.


If you run your own site, get signed up in Webmaster Tools and make sure you’re not contributing to the malware problem. If you do find that your site has malware on it, once you’ve removed it you can request that your site be reanalyzed.

For more info, check out these other blogs and articles:

Girl from Mars – Magneta Lane

I first saw this video at the Microsoft Company Meeting 2008, and looked for the song everywhere, but couldn’t find the Magneta Lane version. They recorded it just for Microsoft. Nevertheless, the original Ash version is great too, so get that in the meantime.

Magneta’ Lane’s MySpace page does mention the song, and maybe a release is on the way.

Update: Forgot the music video from Ash. I like it.

I’m a PC

Judging, by the blogosphere’s reaction, I’m one of the few people who liked the Gates-Seinfeld ads by Microsoft. They were odd, sure, but it got people thinking, talking, going WTF? – and that can’t be bad.

But I definitely like the I’m a PC ads better. I was at the company meeting when they debuted, and they immediately sparked a rumble in the audience—a positive one.

The cool thing is you can upload your own picture or video with your “I’m a PC” acting debut.

There are some interesting ones: a guy singing in the shower, for instance. Steve Ballmer’s is worth a look.

The greatest thing about these ads, though, is that they essentially take all the wind out of the obnoxious Apple ads that have been on for years.

On the importance of having a good haircut

Note to future self: Don’t get haircut the week before important events take place.

After my last day of work at GeoEye, I went to get my haircut at a nearby salon. I asked for it a little shorter. Between the time I gave this brief instruction, and the time she lifted her hands to my head, a seismic, cosmic, interrupting event took place that transformed my words into: “Kindly shave my head, I have no need of hair. Please don’t ask for confirmation.”

At least, that’s what I assume happened. Before I could say anything, an electric razor had taken quite a bit off the top. It wasn’t to the skin–thank goodness. But I was on my way to a whole new look.

It was too late to fix it, so I went with it.

The next day we flew out to Seattle to look for housing with our new realtor. I had to excuse myself for looking like a skinhead.

Of course, the next Monday I started at Microsoft and had my badge picture taken. That one will be alive for a while…

And my drivers license…

And all the pictures of my wife and I in a new location…

Goodbye Google Ads

Given that I’m now working for its major competitor, I’ve decided to take down the Google ads from this site. I hope this leads to less clutter and intrusiveness. My goal for this site has been (and still is) for it to be self-sustaining, and I hope it can continue to be through Amazon referrals.

First two weeks at Microsoft

It has been an insane first couple of weeks at Microsoft. In actuality, though, I don’t know if I can count it as two weeks of experience. I’ve had two days of orientation, one day for the company meeting (which was awesome, by the way), and two more days for training in Live Search specifically. So really I’ve had only a week of work.

The team I’m working in is great. Everybody really knows their stuff and it’s fairly intimidating trying to comprehend all the knowledge (both project and organizational) that you need to drink from the fire hose. Supposedly, it takes an average of 6 months before most people feel like they’re contributing 100%. That seems like a really, really long time, given how fast things move in the Internet age. So far, I’ve mostly read code (fixed one small bug, and found another), and done online training (of which there is a LOT–you don’t have to do everything, but there’s a an awful lot there to choose from). It’s easy to start feeling caught between wanting to contribute as soon as possible and not wanting to screw up other people’s work.

I’ve also got to come up with my yearly commitments this week–a daunting task when you don’t know anything. 🙂 Thankfully, my lead is a lot of help. There’s a nice big section for personal development and I’m planning on reading Scott Meyer’s Effective C++ and More Effective C++. They’ve been on my list for a while, but now I can get graded on it!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it explicitly before, but I’m working on the Webmaster team as part of Live Search. The Webmaster tools are the interface between web site owners and the Live search index. If you have a web site, you should definitely create an account with our tools so you can see how your site is performing.

About Live Search in general…

Over a year ago I briefly tried Live Search as my main search engine, but quickly moved back to Google. About 6 months ago (before I was contacted about the job at Microsoft, incidentally), I decided to look at Live again–HUGE improvement. I have very rarely gone back to Google since then.

There are also some really exciting new features coming for both Live and the webmaster tools, so give them a try now and again in a few months. I can also personally attest to the fact that the Live Search team takes feedback seriously. If you have any issue with your site, or the results of your query–write up a little note and send it to the feedback page, or even send me an e-mail and I can make sure it gets sent to the right people.

P.S. My blog entry about my interview experience did make the rounds and a number of people commented to me on it….weird feeling…more infamous, than famous. Lesson: Make sure you never writing something you wouldn’t mind other people reading back to you. (I don’t think I did…)

Google Chrome – the Good, Meh, Ugly, and This Means War

I just read all about Google Chrome, their new open-source browser, in the comic they put out. No download link at this time, but I’m sure it’s coming. My initial thoughts:

The Good

  • The JavaScript changes seems to make sense. The better garbage collector and speed improvements can’t hurt.
  • The free API to download lists of malware or phishing sites is pretty nice.

The Meh

  • UI changes. Making each tab its own browser entity and putting controls in each tab? That’s it? So what!
  • Some of the search enhancements are interesting, but I don’t think that anyone will care that much in the end.
  • Showing most popular pages…meh
  • Unclear on the plugin model. Will they have their own? Will they run ActiveX (they imply yes). How about Firefox plugin compatibility? All we need is yet another API for writing plugins.

The Ugly

  • A new process for each tab? Are you serious? I understand that it’s (maybe)the only way to completely isolate web pages from each other, but given how many pages some people have running, that means an extra 50 processes on the system. That’s a lot of resources. I know their idea was to consider each web page an application, and of course each desktop application is its own process, but I don’t think we actually treat most web pages like applications. We create new browser tabs and switch pages with wild abandon. Most web sites are NOT applications–they’re reference. They’re just books open to 50 pages at once. (Was process isolation really a problem that needed solving? I almost NEVER have runaway tabs in IE7)
  • Proprietary JavaScript hooks. Sure, it’s open source, but they’re still building things into their version of JavaScript that only work with their browser.

This Means War

  • First front: SilverLight. Gears seems to be a direct assault on the concept of .Net and SilverLight. The technology and scope are different now, but I think ultimately they’re going after the same target: having the rich-client experience in your browser on multiple OSes/browsers.
  • Second front: Firefox: the only people who are going to download Chrome or even understand what it is are the people who use Firefox. If Chrome succeeds, it will be at Firefox’s detriment. Thanks for playing.

Overall, I felt a big “meh” after reading the comic. While many of the ideas are interesting, overall, I don’t see a compelling reason to switch. I’ll try it out when it becomes available, and my opinions will probably change on some things, but Google is going to have to do a lot more to overthrow IE. Maybe their purpose really is to just throw ideas out there and see what sticks, what gets integrated into competing products, etc. We’ll just have to see what happens next. It’s going to be a fun couple of years!

(P.S. Also, please everyone, especially media, start mocking Chrome for it’s “p%%n mode” just liked you mocked IE.)

Diagnosing SEO issues with Live Search Webmaster Tools

The folks on my future team at Microsoft have released a presentation about the diagnosing search engine issues with the recently released Live Search Webmaster Tools (it was out before, but in beta).

If you run a web-site, you should check out the tools and the presentation (even without narration, it’s worth a look).

Top 10 Reasons Why I’m Excited to Work at Microsoft

My last post was well and good (definitely read the comments), but I think I should be serious about my new employer because I really am excited to work there. Here are some reasons why:

  1. The opportunity to work with people smarter than me. The chance to meet some of the people I admire in the software community.
  2. The projects and technology under development always inspire me. Almost every event I’ve gone to has had me come away wanting to look into some other cool technology and thinking of the ways it can change the world.
  3. A real career path as a software engineer.
  4. Chance to change projects whenever I want. During my interviews, many people were quite open with me: they get bored with a project eventually and want to switch after two years or so. Microsoft’s culture easily allows this.
  5. Compete with Google. Google needs some real competition. Just as Firefox lit a fire under the IE team, MS needs to light a fire under Google.
  6. The benefits are awesome. They truly treat you well.
  7. They are extremely open on telecommuting.
  8. How many companies can you work at where your stuff affects so many people? There aren’t that many…
  9. The challenge. I love challenges. I love learning new things, and working hard to solve problems. Challenges are how you grow.
  10. The area. Beautiful country. Cheaper than DC. The rain.

What will be more interesting is to compare this list with what I come up with in a year.