Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's LIVE!

After many years at Microsoft, I've gotten used to a certain rhythm of shipping. It takes place over a period of months (and sadly, sometimes years) but the process is generally pretty similar. When shipping large client releases of software, where the cost of getting a fix out to all of your customers is high if you make a mistake somewhere along the way, you need to spend a lot of time in the planning stage and even more time in the stabilization, integration and testing phases of the product. Sometimes that last phase can last a year all by itself. Then it takes a few months for all of the CDs/DVDs to be made and shipped out to the store. By the time it hits the streets, you are often months into the next project.

Even when I was writing my shareware utilities like DragStrip, there was a lot of work involved in releasing an update, even to the internet. Installers, upgrade testing from all of the previous releases, documentation updates, email to users about the changes, etc.

The wonderful world of web services is very different. The distance from a development build to a shipped release is often as little as synchronizing some code to some servers and updating a database. Boom, you've gone from working for a few people to having your entire user base up and running on the latest version. You still need to go through the integration and validation periods but they are much shorter because the cost of getting a fix out is much MUCH smaller and, in all of the cases I'm working on, the code base is miniscule compared to things like, well, Windows.

This is not news to anyone who has worked on websites and web services before. The really cool thing for me at DeepRockDrive now, though, is the fact that the software we're building is not just live on the net, but it is LIVE, as in Live on Stage. I'm working on updates for our interactive show experience which users can tune in tomorrow at 5:00 to see. Take all of the excitement of shipping new code, and add in the excitement of a live show where, honestly, anything can happen. This week, it is updates to our in show set list voting mechanism where the fans get to vote on what the next song they want to hear next and then the band actually plays the top vote getter. At last week's show, we had some "challenges" with this so this week, its a big update to help it perform better. We can do all the stress testing we want on it, but we won't know for sure until the crowds come in and start voting. It's LIVE!

I have to say it is incredibly cool to have a challenge like this. We have some work we need to get done before the show, and we can't slip because, as they say, the show must go on. It creates a whole new kind of urgency in development and it is really nice to be able to get stuff out to our customers like this.

So if you haven't already, head over to DeepRockDrive and create an account. Then tomorrow, join us for The Objex at 5:00 PM PST. And while you're there, vote on my latest petition for National Geographic Live to come to DeepRockDrive.

Why? Because it's LIVE!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Enter: DeepRockDrive

DeepRockDriveAfter my Exit: Microsoft post, a number of people asked me what was coming next. There was a subtle hint within that post (not to mention a cool logo in my sidebar), but I wanted to wait a little bit for the full description.

Well, now is that time! I have joined DeepRockDrive, an amazing startup focusing on building a community of artists and fans and an interactive performance experience that will create a cool new way for artists and fans to interact and share their music. Drawing on my background as a musician, audio engineer, networking guy and of course software engineer, DeepRockDrive is the perfect storm of my interests and I am really excited about what we will be building.

Even more exciting is the fact that our service has officially launched tonight. So right now, you should head over, create an account (it's free!) and start petitioning bands to come play for you at DeepRockDrive.

Go ahead! I'll wait...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Exit: Microsoft

In September 1996, I joined Microsoft to work on Internet Explorer for Macintosh. I've always been a Mac guy since I got my first Mac SE (I was an Apple II guy long before that). I was excited to be able to work on an application that was so ubiquitous on the Mac platform and it was really a thrill to do that.

After a couple of years working on Mac IE, a bunch of us Mac IE folks moved up to Redmond to start working on various Windows applications. I spent some time working on Outlook Express, and then joined the Windows Shell team for Windows 2000 and Windows XP. That was a real blast. Working on what would be the defining computer experience for years and the things my team and I created during that time - the Luna look, cool logon screen, fast user switching - are still to this date some of the high points of my coding days.

After Windows XP shipped, I worked on the MSN client, Digital Image Suite and many long years on what would eventually become Windows Vista helping to create the Digital Photography features and platform. As long as that slog was, we had a great team and a ton of fun.

For the past year, I've worked on <super secret project you don't know about yet> but as of this week, my tenure with Microsoft is ending.

I never really thought that I would be there for 11 years but there was always so much more to do and the people I've worked with were top notch! Heck, they're still top notch though many of them have left for cool new things. Well, now it's my turn. So at this turning point, I want to thank all of the folks I worked with and all of the folks who used the stuff we built.

I'll close with a funny story about the earliest days. Having been a Mac guy for so long, I figured that when I left my old company I would work at Apple. Apple flew me out to California to interview with them back in 1996 and while I was there, I interviewed with Microsoft. I got offers from both but this was during the dark days at Apple (aka - before the second coming of Steve Jobs) and Microsoft's offer was so much better that I went with it. When I called the Apple recruiter to tell him, I said "Who knows... maybe I won't like it and I'll go to Apple in a year..." "No," he replied somewhat dejectedly, "No one has ever done that..."

It sure sounded like I had made the right choice :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Throwing out Apple boxes is hard!

I'm cleaning up my office and I came across the boxes for my MacBook Pro and my iPhone. They are empty. There is no reason to keep them. Yet they are so pretty that I don't want to throw them out.

Now that's packaging!

Oh, and I did eventually throw them out :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Keeping up with your car payments

I love Heroes. Certainly the best new show of last year. As they start the second season, they're making forays into the realm of in show advertising. The most obvious of which was in the season premiere, Claire - the hot, blonde cheerleader - is given a car by her "father". A new Rogue. "I get the Rogue?!?! Oh Dad, I love you..." blah blah blah

What's a Rogue? Never heard of it. A few minutes later during a commercial break, Nissan introduces the Rogue. Ah clever. I'm not sure how many teenagers would be so giddy about getting a small SUV but hey, more power to them.

The following week, Nissan must have missed some payments because Claire walks out of school and finds out her car has been stolen.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Replacing a camera just got easier

Well, I was going to wait for the 5D Mark II, but just yesterday I got a call from Glazer's that a 1D Mark III had arrived and I was at the top of the list. While I could wait to see if a new 5D comes out, I think I'll be needing a great camera sooner than that, so I think I'm going for it.

Woo hoo!

I contemplated replacing the 17-40mm f/4.0 L USM lens that was also stolen with a 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM, but I just can't justify the higher price, even if it is faster and a bit sharper. A new 17-40mm should be fine.

Now as to where the posts have been lately? Well, lots going on but more on that later. For now, it's time to start learning a new camera. :)