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Archive for February, 2007

New Title

February 26, 2007 Leave a comment
Almost as soon as I started working for Microsoft, I was the "go-to" guy along with another guy that left for another team. I had been working with Windows Installer – an application installation technology developed at Microsoft and used by many – since its inception about 10 years ago now. Over the last year I was involved with Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 and provided a lot of technical support for what Windows Installer can and can’t do. While some may find the release disappointing because of some of its problems, it was a major triumph for Developer Division to fix many problems and add many new features. By all rights, it should’ve been a new release, which I had mention some time back would actually prevent many of the problems those reinstalling Service Pack 1 ran into. We uncovered many new problems, and not just in our product. I’ve been working across the company to remedy those problems. I even have written some presentations and am doing more work company-wide on how to build products that support smooth upgrades with Windows Installer patches, and how to write custom actions – executable code that can do almost anything in the right context during installation, which is a problem for those that don’t know how to correctly author them for every scenario. I’m currently leading the latter effort. There’s a few other important things I’m working on I can’t mention now, but will when I can on my technical blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/heaths.
 
Because of all that and to support the function I’ve been trying to create and fill – a technical leadership committee within Developer Division, sort of an advisory board – I was given the title of "Technical Lead". Why some say titles don’t really matter, some others and I think they can help give first impressions. It can take precious time to establish one’s self as an information authority, though I strive – and now because of this role have more time to produce – to educate those I work with across the division why they need to make certain changes. After all, we can write the greatest software in the world, but if we can’t set it up correctly and maintain it, what good is that software?
 
I also educate myself about new deployment technologies, especially in the application installation arena since most of what our divisions produces is applications, and we do ship one of the most complex – if not the most complex – installations. I’ve worked with large product installations before, consulting for companies and even submitting bugs against others, but nothing quite so complex to set up Visual Studio. I do certainly support that we use the right tools for the right job, and new deployment technologies might work better in some situations.
 
And that my dear family and friends, is something about what I do. The title better reflects that, and will hopefully provide more time to write more specifications resulting in more of a brain dump to help other understand what needs to be done in the future, based on years of experience, countless of hours of community support both internally and externally on this and other topics, and familiarity of the Windows Installer source code.
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Categories: Work

Audi with a Zune Dock

February 21, 2007 1 comment

I took my car into Benchmark Motoring today and within hours had it back with a shiny new 3.5mm auxiliary jack in the glove box. Now I can plug-in my Zune or practically any other portable media device, flip inputs on the stereo, and crank up some tunes I really want to listen to. I had them install it in the glove box because it was easier (i.e., cheaper for me) and allows me to keep the Zune out of site most times, which helps prevent break-ins. With a long enough patch cable I can pull it out and even let the people riding in back look through the library.

Categories: Entertainment

Anniversary in Hawaii

February 19, 2007 Leave a comment
For some time I’ve wanted to do something special for our fifth anniversary, so for Valentine’s day I had purchased the trip and surprised Tracy. We will be spending our fifth anniversary on the island of Oahu.
 
We’ll spend a few days near Waikiki beach and head north for the rest of the week, stopping to see all the beautiful sites. I plan on taking lots of pictures – as this is a time for me to relax as well – and will post them when we get back. This will be a memorable anniversary for sure!
Categories: Holiday

Another Weekend Project

February 19, 2007 Leave a comment
After having recaulked the bathroom, it was time for another home renovation project courtesy of our dear Suzie. Suffering from separation anxiety, Suzie has chewed several things from the walls to a blanket. She stays kenneled now. You can find several pictures below of damage she caused to the apartment. After today, you won’t notice all but one damaged area (and I’m working on that).
 
We got everything we needed at Home Depot, although the spectrometer was broken at the one in Redmond so we had to make a trip to the one in Bothell. I even paid a little extra for better materials than I’m sure went into the apartment originally, like primer with mildewcide. I sanded, buffed, and applied wallboard joint compound to build up the surface. Today I applied mud for an orange peel texture, primed, and painted.
 
I think I did a good job. I was mentioning to Tracy that except for an area I had to buff off excess mud and reshaped, I couldn’t tell the difference. She said she could tell, but she was looking at the wrong place! She hadn’t noticed the area I did and thought Suzie had shewed the wall below the actual area I repaired. I only noticed because I knew exactly where to look, and it still looks better than several places on the same corner where maintenance or previous occupants merely plastered over and painted.
 
In a couple of weeks after the sheen evens out with the existing paint, I’ll post pictures.
 
All this is leading up to Tracy and I finally start our home buying experience.
Categories: Home

Two Zunes, Nearly Unlimited Music

February 10, 2007 Leave a comment
For Christmas I got Tracy a brown Zune – Microsoft’s answer to the Apple iPod. Growing tired of increasing talk on radio, we decide to get a Zune Pass which allows us to downloads all the music we want. At the same time, I got myself a black Zune to go with my Audi’s interior and am having a 3.5 mm auxiliary jack added so I can listen to all that music during my commute or when we travel. I’d do it myself but that would void my warranty.
 
Though my radio and CD player will still work, Tracy and I will have many, many hours of music because a Zune Pass allows you to sync up to two Zune devices. Now we can truly listen to what we want. Sorry Jack FM.
Categories: Entertainment