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I Hate Linux

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mr. Grant Goes to Washington (state)

... or Borg.Assimilate(Me)

... or Brendan.Drink(Drink.KoolAid);

... or Brendan.Soul.Sell(Microsoft)

... or Brendan.Employer.Name = "Microsoft";

At last the background checks are complete and now all that remains is the move and my first day...

On March 24th I will be joining the Windows Home Server team (yes at Microsoft) as a Software Development Engineer.

Bo ya!

When did this happen?

Back on February 4th I flew out to Seattle, WA, spent a full day interviewing with the team the next day and had the recruiter trying to make an offer the day after that.

(I'll write about the exhausting interview process another day)

Leading up to this trip I tried to keep the number of people in the know as small as possible... in fact only one family member knew about this trip prior to returning home... but now the world can know!

What'd you see?

While I didn't see anything I shouldn't, I did have the opportunity to meet (and interview with) Windows Home Server General Manager Charlie Kindel (on Channel 9) and Lead Developer Chris Gray (on Channel 9) as well as quite a few other amazing folks (none of whom seem to have a blog) that I look forward to working with very soon.

Unfortunately I didn't get to see the old hockey puck design, I did have the chance to see some very old prototypes of the MediaSmart server as well as a few completed units (something I'd never seen in person) as well as getting to stick my head into a build lab that had more computers and storage than is easily comprehended.

Why the delay in the announcement?

While not normally a paranoid person, from time to time I do worry a bit in this case wanted to make sure that the background check came back clean before saying too much... and now I can with the knowledge that Microsoft doesn't care that I used to bear a striking resemblance to a certain known terrorist.

What does this mean for this blog?

This blog was started long ago as a personal blog with my rants and raves on various topics both political and technical. When Windows Home Server came out and I started spending more time programming with it it started to move that way... something that is going to be changing a bit.

Once I'm settled in Redmond and have begun work I intend to start a new blog (likely on blogs.msdn.com or blogs.technet.com) that will focus (near) exclusively on Windows Home Server, allowing this one to revert back to it's previous state of a personal blog and allow readers to be able to more easily sort back and forth.

Stay tuned for further details on this transition. Note though that due to how busy the next month will be, my WHS Dev Tips series may continue to be delayed a bit (amazingly I wasn't scolded or asked to stop while there).

What's next?

Even though my start date is penciled in for March 24th, a full month away... the next month is going to be incredibly busy with moving the week of the 17th, teaching my final programming class during the week of the 10th, packing and cleaning like a mad man during the week of the 3rd as well as taking a trip to Seattle to try to find a place to live, and visiting the Democratic People's Republic of Minnesota (DPRM) next week to collect a few things and say a couple good byes.

That all said... here I come building 43!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blast you Verizon!

Here in South Dakota there are two main cell phone providers... Verizon Wireless and Alltel (formerly Cellular One) and when I first got a cell phone back in 2002 I went with Verizon because they had far better coverage in the area... a decision I've largely regretted ever since.

As great as Verizon coverage is throughout the state, I've often regretted it they have a history of seemingly needlessly crippling their phones (disabling OBEX, removing the ability to transfer audio files directly from a memory card to the phones memory (but still allowing the same file to be attached to a text message, sent to the phone (from the same phone), and then stored to the phone), just to name a few.

Another reason I've regretted my going with them was their general refusal to compete based on price, performance or features.

Now though that seems to have changed with the rumors of unlimited calling plans being true.

$100/month for an unlimited calling plan (for a limited time)... very tempting (and very expensive), especially in a month when I'm dangerously low on minutes.

I guess this means that next month when I make my big move I may not be switching to a GSM carrier as I have long vowed... so long as they quit leaving Wi-Fi out of the majority of their smartphones.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Proof of concept add-in: Media Connect Controller

While the Home Server Console exposes the ability to share ones built in Videos, Music and Pictures shares using Windows Media Connect (WMC) (Microsoft's implementation of the Universal Plug and Play Audio and Video standards)... the Home Server UI falls flat if one wants to share digital content (via WMC) from even more shares or a custom another share with a a more appealing name (ie Tunes, Tunez, MP3z, etc instead of Music).

Compare the current settings page:

Media Sharing

With a test one I've created:

Media Connect Controller - Settings

Using a bit of the the undocumented bits of the Home Server Console, it is possible to exposing of a WHS share via WMC (to be written about another time) pretty easily... the question currently before me is how to expose this functionality to the average user?

  1. Do I want to stick with a standard settings page (as seen above)?
  2. Implement a whole new main console tab that displays a list of the shares and does nothing but let you enable/disable WMC for each?
  3. Hook into the existing Shared Folders list and add a pair of menu items for enabling/disabling WMC:

Media Connect Controller - Shared Folders view

Any opinions?

Ideally I'd also like this add-in to expose a bit of the functionality we see in Windows Vista or even on a tool hidden away on Windows Home Server for configuring which PC's can access the shared content... but that's a little ways off.

Existing tool on Windows Home Server:

Windows Media Connect - Configuration

Vista:

Media Sharing - Vista

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A cold day

Big news and a big move is coming around these parts, news/a move that I'll be announcing when the actual events are a bit closer... in the mean time a little confirmation that I made the right choice.

Despite the general... nervousness about moving to a far away and strange place where I've been only once... waking up on a day such as this and seeing a 61 degree temperature difference between here and there does make things much much easier:

Temp Diff

At least I'm not being locked outside.