If I heaped scorn on Microsoft’s stack ranking or 70-20-10 system and the toxic management culture it engendered, it’s only fair that I heap praise on those aspects of being a Microsoftie that I really liked.
I loved the developer evangelist role. I also loved the fact that Microsoft not only had an evangelism team, but evangelism opportunities aplenty. I enjoyed what I did immensely and in spite of my happy-go-lucky demeanor, I took the job very seriously. Most of the time, I lived in the “hooray!” zone in the Venn diagram shown above.
(If you’re curious about what my job was like, I think that this article that I wrote back in 2010 does a pretty good job of explaining it. You might also want to check out my Evangelist, Immigrant, and Shaman article.)
I may have butted heads with some higher-ups (and in a couple of cases, some waaaay higher-ups), but the people who’ll always have my love, friendship, and respect are my former teammates on the Developer and Platform Evangelism Canadian “breadth team”, including Damir Bersinic:
…and he’s even more loveable in cartoon form:
There’s also Qixing Xeng, who’s since gone on to her dream job on the Windows user experience team:
And two of the best damned tech presenters in the entire organization, Christian Beauclair and Rick Claus:
Here’s Rick, me, and Rodney Buike striking a “Charlie’s Angels” pose with our netbooks:
Ruth Morton was the very first person (after my manager) to welcome me onto the team — she left a comment on this blog.
Paul Laberge was my fellow Windows Phone Champ on the Canadian team, and together we gave the greatest mobile phone presentation ever. So great that it can’t ever be repeated again:
As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a TechDays conference without Pierre Roman (he’s on the right):
I’m glad I had the chance to work with Fred Harper — he joined near the end of my tenure and is with Mozilla now:
And while Susan Ibach came aboard shortly after I left, we had a couple of chances to chat, and she gave me a grand tour of the server room at the TechReady 12 conference:
I’m also glad to have had a chance to work with Jonathan Rozenblit (below, left):
Poor John Bristowe — he had one of the toughest jobs: to be my “onboarding buddy” when I first joined The Empire. He probably still has a mark from all the facepalming he had to do during that process:
And of course, I can’t not mention David Crow, who was Butt-Head to my Beavis…or was that Beavis to my Butt-Head?
While not on my team, I worked cross-functionally with Arun Kirupananthan and Nik Garkusha on Make Web Not War:
…and with Anthony “Situation” Bartolo on all sorts of Windows Phone-related thingies:
Mark Relph (pictured below on the right), who was my skip-level — that’s Microsoftese for “my manager’s manager” — who said something I’ll always remember when I was hired: “We enter as friends, we leave as friends”…
And last, but not least, I have to mention my long-suffering manager, John Oxley, who always had my back. He was an endless wellspring of good advice, ideas, stories, and some much-needed booze on his expense account. He also let me expense the rental of a pair of assless chaps, which I’m sure that no one else at Microsoft would ever do (okay, Adam Carter and Scott Hanselman probably would, too):
At Microsoft’s Developer and Platform Evangelism group, we got assigned a lot of gear — more than one laptop per limb, all brand new.
My favourite has to be the “Dellasaurus”: the Precision M6500, a 17″ powerhouse that was essentially a server shoved into a laptop-shaped chassis:
As a Windows Phone Champ, I got to work with the early test phones months before Windows Phone 7 hit the market:
And of course, I got my own production phone once they hit the shelves:
Damir even saw fit to make sure I left with some fabulous parting gifts when I left:
I get a kick out of working with lots of other people; that’s my nature. I really loved that aspect of the job, and what made it even better was the fact that the community with whom I worked — developers and IT pros who used Microsoft tools and technology were such great people.
If you look through the archives of this blog, you find dozens — perhaps hundreds — of photos that I took at various developer gatherings, from the TechDays series of conferences…
…to “Coffee and Code” gatherings…
and everything in between.
I feel that some really active participants in the community deserve special mention, including Atley Hunter:
Cory Fowler, who’s since gone on to join the company:
Bruce Johnson, Barry Gervin, and the rest of the ObjectSharp folks:
Steve Syfuhs, Todd Lamothe and Colin Melia:
Sean Kearney, Steve Syfuhs again, and Mitch Garvis. Special credit to Mitch for trying to set me up when he found out The Missus left me; the thought is appreciated:
Alexey Adamsky and Barranger Ridler:
…as well as Kate Gregory, Alex Yakobovich, and so many other people whose photos I need to dig up.
Let me just say this: the pay and perks were sweeeeeeeet.
I often joked that Windows Mobile (Microsoft’s Mobile OS before the revamped Windows Phone and the User Interface Formerly Known as Metro) made me feel like this:
A couple of months before Windows Phone was announced, I got assigned the role of Windows Phone Champ, which was the assignment I loved the most.
It was a challenge, starting from zero with a brand-new operating mobile operating system in 2010, three years after the debut of the iPhone, when the company was still stinging from Steve Ballmer’s underestimation of the effect that Apple would have on the mobile phone industry. In spite of all that, Windows Phone had an interesting user interface with a lot of possibilities, a great set of developer tools, and a whole lot of developers who were interested in building apps for it:
Even today, I keep the “I love Windows Phone” sticker that Charlie Kindel gave me, back when he ran the Windows Phone Champs:
My “Sesame Street” Fantasy, Fulfilled
Last, but certainly not least, for two brief shining episodes, Microsoft gave me a children’s show, where I got to teach kids about technology, complete with little puppet friend! Unfortunately, Microsoft Canada didn’t have much of a budget for outreach to grade school kids, but for fulfilling my fantasy to be on Sesame Street or something like it, I will be forever grateful.