Getting started at Microsoft
So, I'm super excited to be on-boarded and efforting the realization of end-user recommends and asks! (Translation: I’ve been a Microsoft employee for three weeks now!)
A month ago, Scott Hanselman announced that I was joining his team:
We work for the group at Microsoft that runs MSDN, TechNet, ASP.NET, Silverlight.NET, WindowsClient.NET, basically all the online education stuff. The giant group is called STO (Server & Tools Online) and our little group is "stoninja." That's our internal mailing alias.
We create content for all of the sites above but we're also active members of the community. We listen and drive feedback back into the product group. We're not part of the product evangelism group (DPE - Developer Platform Evangelism), but rather we focus primarily on online content creation. I like to think that we're the team that happens you after you go File|New Project, although we're constantly influencing what happens on both sides.
I'd like to announce that Jon Galloway is joining my team, he's coming to work for us via our good friends at Vertigo (who just announced a new Vertigo Software - Portland office which is cool). It's a bit of a change for Jon and it's something he's always wanted to do. Jon's official title will be Community Program Manager but I like to think of each member of the team as a Community Liaison. We're a small group, but we're sneaky (like ninjas, just fat, middle-aged somewhat pasty ninjas) and we are continually applying pressure to what we think are the right places within Microsoft. Jon will be focusing on ASP.NET (all of it). He'll help get the http://asp.net site in shape and provide a much needed pragmatic view of all things web.
My favorite part of Scott’s post is the Venn diagram, which sums my feelings about this new job exactly:
This is exactly how I feel. My software development experiences to date have all involved helping someone solve a business problem with custom software. I started with boring stuff like environmental hazard reporting, background checks and mortgage transactions, running on older technologies. After a while, I was working on more interesting problems, like business intelligence for a major biotech, and running on fairly current technologies. Then I got the dream job as a custom software developer – working at Vertigo Software, building solutions for genuinely exciting problems (live internet sports videos used by millions of users, conference websites, a keynote demonstration for the MIX08 developer conference) using the shiniest new technologies around, very often before they were publicly released. And it was awesome – as a software developer, I can’t imagine a better setup than working for Scott Stanfield and team, building really great applications using the newest technologies.
But I had a separate “Stuff You Love To Do” circle, filled with other things that I did in my spare time – run a developer podcast, answer questions on StackOverflow, speak at code camps, work on open source projects, have conversations with developers on Twitter, get involved in as my beta programs as I could, etc. It was all about getting involved with the software development community; doing what I could to connect developers with information that would help them be just a little more awesome and happy in what they were doing. I don’t know why I like that so much, but I sure do. And while the folks I worked for were incredibly supportive of that, it wasn’t their business. Of course it wasn’t - I really didn’t expect that anyone was in that business, that there was a way to overlap the three: stuff I liked to do, stuff I’m good at, and stuff I’d get paid for (a job). It turns out there was – my good friend Rob Conery moved on after a few years at Microsoft, and told me I should apply for his old job. So I did, and was happily surprised to be offered the position.
We talked to Scott Hanselman (my new boss) on Herding Code about what our group does, if you’re into the podcast thing: Herding Code 65: Scott Hanselman on His Secret Ninja Squad and Jon’s new job. It talks about what our group does and how that fits in with the product groups, evangelism teams, etc. Give it a listen or download the MP3.
This is a public sort of position, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m popping up in videos left and right.
Those were both cool, but the video I'm most proud of doesn't show me, or even mention my name. I got to help prepare a some of the the content for one of Scott Hanselman's appearances at PDC09, ASP.NET MVC 2: Ninjas Still on Fire Black Belt Tips:
So what’s it like so far?
Well, I’m excited and humbled by the challenge. I really believe in the work I’m doing, and sincerely hope I can do it justice.
Everyone starting at Microsoft posts about “taking the red pill” followed a few weeks later by something about “drinking from the firehose” so I’m not doing either. But, honestly, I don’t feel the effects of drinking from the firehose, at least not yet. Maybe it’s that I’ve been through firehose experiences a few times before, or maybe it’s that things are a little quiet around Christmas vacation, or maybe it’s that Scott and his team prepped me really well, but so far I haven’t felt overwhelmed by the flow of information.
That isn't to say that it hasn't been really busy. I spent the first week at Microsoft headquarters (in Redmond, WA). Here are some of the highlights:
- NEO (New Employee Orientation): It’s how every new Microsoft employee spends their first day. I was really impressed by how efficiently it was run – a few short lines to fill out forms and get a badge photo taken, followed by the rest of the day of New Employee HR sorta stuff. I was expecting torture, but they somehow made it kind of fun.
- Nerd Dinner: I finally got to experience a nerd dinner at the famous Crossroads Mall Food Court, followed by a late night trip to see Ninja Assassin (with an unruly gang including Scott, Brad Wilson, Phil Haack, Damien Guard, and Glenn Block). What can one expect at a nerd dinner? How about an impromptu overview of font hinting and ClearType by Damien, author of one of my favorite programming fonts, Envy Code R.
- Meetings with the ASP.NET team: Hanging around the Microsoft campus with Scott Hanselman felt like touring the chocolate factory with Willy Wonka. I met tons of people, but spent most of my time in building 42 meeting with the ASP.NET developers. I got one-on-one demos of some of the new things they’re working on, watched Brad debug a perf issue, and got to be a code monkey for a presentation Simon Calvert was giving. As a long-time ASP.NET developer, this was a very cool experience.
- That This Week On Channel 9 video: I got roped into that at the last minute, but it was a lot of fun.
- STO Team meetings: I met with a lot of folks on the STO (that’s Server & Tools Online, remember?) team, getting up to speed on what we’re doing. I’ll be working primarily on the ASP.NET website, so I was in on a lot of meetings about how we’re going to make that site more valuable to the community.
And after that, I headed home. I’ll be working remotely from San Diego – all of Scott’s team is remote. And it's an awesome team, too! I’ve always had a lot of respect for Scott, Joe, Jesse, Tim, and Pete, and am super happy to be working with them! Oh, look, I just said “super”. I guess it’s begun.
Open for business
So now it’s my job to make sure that developing with ASP.NET is a happy experience. I’ve already been talking to several people about helping out their community efforts, and am interested in hearing what you think I should focus on. You can reach me on Twitter at @jongalloway and via my Microsoft e-mail (first.last at microsoft.com).