Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

Microsoft Comedy Generator aka. Songsmith

February 13, 2009 Leave a comment

I’d seen a demo of Songsmith on our internal MS Research site, and was quite impressed. Now it’s out in the wild people are putting it to some interesting uses. The Classic Hits collection are quite impressive:



But by far the most interesting is this ‘auralisation’ of a variety of companies’ stock prices:



Thanks Chris for that one – this weekend I may work on a way to get data from SQL and into Songsmith 🙂

Categories: Microsoft

I’m a PC

September 21, 2008 Leave a comment

Well, these ads were interesting. I think the goal was purely to stimulate interest, and it seemed most people on the web didn’t ‘get it’. But, I think the new spots have a much clearer message:

Check out for more videos. This is just the start of a lengthy campaign that’ll run over the next few years, highlighting the connections that Windows software enables. I really like the Life Without Walls tagline, and it goes hand in hand with a revised mission statement for Microsoft:

“Create experiences that combine the magic of software with the power of Internet services across a world of devices”

I love that it is so specific, and gets back to the technological roots of ‘A PC in every home and on every desk’. The next year will be a very exciting time for Microsoft and users of Microsoft’s technology and I’m proud to be part of it.

Categories: Microsoft

SQL Server Stamps

June 20, 2008 Leave a comment

Now this is definitely one of the more obscure Microsoft artefacts I’ve seen, but I’ve just taken delivery of the following:


That’s a set of United States Postal Service SQL Server Stamps. I’m trying to decide whether the philatelist or the geek in me thinks they’re coolest… It’s entirely possible that neither thinks they’re cool.

Maybe they’ll be worth something one day. I’m off to eBay to find out.

Categories: Microsoft

SQL Server Data Services

March 10, 2008 Leave a comment

Announced last week, SQL Server Data Services adds yet another four letter component to the SQL Server family (so we now have at least SSAS, SSDS, SSMS, SSNS and SSRS). It’s Microsoft’s latest addition to its growing portfolio of online/hosted services, to complement Office Live, Biztalk Services, Exchange Hosted etc. SSDS is essentially a database service, hosted by Microsoft that gives companies a scalable, secure data store that sits on the Internet. Ideal for providing services like product catalogues or even social networking sites that require major data storage.

I’m intrigued by the increasing number of hosted services we are releasing (or at least announcing) that are becoming more and more enterprise-focused. Hotmail and Live brought some great services to consumers and now we seem to making a move to bring this to business users too. Things like Office Live Workspaces are another step in that direction, and I’m sure it’s an area the industry in general will continue to move towards.

Categories: Microsoft

Greatest job evar

March 3, 2008 Leave a comment

Not mine (although it is great), this one. is an awesome website, and if I was that way inclined, I’d jump at the offer. Ina mentioned over the weekend that he’d seen a job at and that he wanted to get an interview for the simple fact that it took place in a ball pool. I imagine ICHC would have similar cool interview techniques. Involving cats. In Seattle (clearly the place to be – MS, Valve, Penny Arcade, Starbucks, Midway – the list goes on – are all based there).

There are stories about how MS used to recruit, asking people to code stuff on-the-fly etc. but in reality the interviews are pretty tame. My intern interview felt a lot like a series of conversations rather than any direct questions, but it was clear what was going on – it’s as much a test of how much you ‘get’ the company as much as how well you’ll do the job. In fact, having since spoken to my interviewers and other hiring managers it’s as much about that as your experience and skills – I’ve always tried to convince people I think would get on to apply for the internship/grad scheme whether they’ve had lots of experience or not… Doing my part to help the company hire the best and brightest 🙂

Categories: Microsoft

Heroes Happen {Here}

January 30, 2008 Leave a comment

Microsoft’s latest campaign to tie in with the ’08 Server Wave is entitled "Heroes Happen {Here}". It celebrates all the unsung heroes in the IT world – the DBAs, security boffins, UX devs etc. that keep our email running, keep our internet access open and do all those little IT jobs that everyone takes for granted.

When I first heard the title (back at MGX in the summer) I thought it was rubbish. Not only is it really bad grammar, but ‘Here’? Where exactly? And heroes don’t ‘happen’, they ‘do stuff’ – though admittedly Heroes Do Stuff {In Their IT Office} doesn’t have the same ring to it. The curly braces seem a little out of place too – not everyone’s a developer…

However, as I’ve found out more about the thought behind the campaign I’ve come to appreciate what it means. We all need IT that runs smoothly and there are some unsung heroes that need recognition and reward for it. I suppose the idea is that the reward is a new wave of technology – Windows Server, SQL Server and Visual Studio 2008. One part of the campaign that I’m still undecided on is the webcomic. I love the art style and the concept is pretty good – you can submit your own stories and it gets incorporated into what will allegedly become a ‘mystery or adventure‘. Some wonderful clichés to come, I’m sure, but hey – it’s a good RSS to subscribe too 🙂

Categories: Microsoft

Old Blog :S

December 13, 2007 Leave a comment

I know it’s been a while, but work is very good at getting in the way of blogging.

I’ve just finished the first major sales presentation of the past few months (well, just finished a few beers after the pitch…[ok, actually this happened last week but I’ve been equally busy this week]) and it’s a really good feeling to be done. I’ve spent the last few weeks working on a Proof of Concept, creating a demo for PerformancePoint Server which I showed today. It was to an insurance company who will be doing some financial and commercial planning with our software. It’s the first time I’ve really used the software ‘in anger’ – against a real-world problem rather than test data – and I have generally been impressed with it. More technical details are to follow, for now I’m going to talk about my experience…

It’s the first time I’ve really been let loose with my own ‘project’ and although I’m not responsible for closing the sale itself I feel like I’ve been able to see my part of the sales process through to the end. That’s really important to someone in my position, i.e. fairly new to this, as I feel like I’ve had an impact. Words of advice to any future managers: give your new charges a big challenge, and let them see it through to the end. Getting broad experience is good but the sense of completion after something like this is ace. (Also, managers, be prepared to support them if they need it, I had a number of offers of help which, although I didn’t take them all, were a good safety net).

The guys from my team that have been involved have been really great here. We spent the first week of the PoC getting to understand this insurance company’s data, and had some fantastic help from Paulo to do so. Paulo, Andrew and myself then had to learn exactly how PerformancePoint coped with being screwed around with to fit the (Excel-based) models that the company currently uses.

This time last week, I was getting ready to go to Munich for a week’s training and I knew I had to leave Paulo to finish one of the models without me. I had confidence that he’d be able to do it, but I had to pick up his work this morning and learn the changes he’d made while I was away, ready to present it this afternoon. Not so easy. Apparently it’s called an ‘exploratory demo’… <Click> "Ah yes, now this shows blah blah".

But it went well. Really well. The audience was really tough, not because they had difficult questions but because they gave absolutely no reaction whatsoever. I had been prepped to expect a thorough grilling so when no-one jumped in with questions I was pretty surprised… However, our advocate there gave me a great review in our debrief and even used the word ‘perfect’ 🙂 Doesn’t mean they’ll buy the stuff but it’s over to the sales folk to close out now…

<Wednesday morning>

Just on the way back to this customer for our executive presentation. It’s scary to be going up in front of CxO-level people (the last time I did this was January 12th – the Friday of my first week…) but it’ll be the same presentation as Monday so looking forward to it. Blog-based debrief to follow.

OK, that wasn’t so bad 🙂 We’d been warned that this COO was a bit of a wild one, and I was expecting lots of curve-ball questions, going off piste a lot etc. And she did provide a couple, but nothing the 3 of us from MS couldn’t manage. Still, glad I wasn’t on my own…

All in all, this has been a manic 4 weeks. I’m not sure if I’ve learnt more about PPS, doing Proof of Concepts or (dare I say it) myself (ha)… Either way, it’s been incredibly good experience and, tho rather stressful at times (panic set in when only 1/3 of it was complete, there was a week left and I was going to Munich for 4 days), I have enjoyed myself.

[Edit: 13th Dec]
Just found out that we’ve won the bid, I finally get some revenue against my name 😀

Categories: Microsoft