Tuesday, May 23, 2006

How we got to Microsoft, Vol 3

Well, the hard stuff wasn't really over. We had an 8:40 flight to SeaTac. With an 18 month old daughter, and three firearms in our bags. We got to the airport later than planned (of course), at about 7:45. My plan had been to have our stuff all checked, and be meeting Courtney’s family at 7:45, so we could spend a half hour or so with them.

Courtney had spent some time the before we packed, researching the topic of traveling with firearms in your checked baggage. She discovered that we were supposed to put our weapons in their original case, unloaded, and lock the suitcase (not the weapon or case). We had this all set up a couple of days before we were flying.

When we got to the airport, I told the lady at the counter (in very hushed tones) that we had firearms in our bags. She reacted by shouting (at the top of her lungs) “Well then, you’ll have to put this bright orange firearms declaration paper in your bag”. All of the nearby passengers started squirming, and eyeing us. Not the most comfortable of moments. So here I am, already running late, digging through our carryon crap to find the keys to the bags, so I can open the bags and put the forms inside them. Then the lady tells us (again at a volume where the pilot could probably hear from inside the plane) that we had to put the forms inside the gun cases, not just inside the bags. This requirement made no sense to me, since any reasonably intelligent person would have deduced that there were firearms in the bag after seeing the black Glock pistol case, and before opening it, to read the firearms declaration form. The Day-Glo orange declarations form. That chick made me really uncomfortable.

Finally, though, we are all checked in to the flight. We start hustling to Starbucks, where we are going to pick up our kid, and meet Courtney’s family. By the time we get done checking in, and get down there, we only have like 5 minutes to visit, since the security line is getting backed up. We said our goodbyes, and grabbed our squirmy worm. She woke up early, so she was already grumpy (This was my decision; I thought the tired baby would be more likely to sleep on the plane). On to security.

Surprisingly, security was pretty much a breeze. One side note: When I was in Okinawa, one of my roommates worked for this guy, Chief Warrant Officer III Lahey. Gunner Lahey was in charge of the Battalion Motor Pool. All of the mechanics and ‘professional’ drivers in the battalion answered to him. Turns out, he’s now working for the TSA, at the Jacksonville airport. I believe he is a supervisor, since every time I saw him; he was supervising, not checking people.

Once through security, we thought we were home free. Silly parents. In the past year, I have been on about 10 flights. None of them has been delayed more than 15 minutes. Not our Detroit flight. There was some weather over the Antarctic Ocean or somewhere, the night before, and the flight attendants for our flight were delayed. They didn’t get the federally mandated 8 hours of rest, so we couldn’t fly out on time. We were delayed for about an hour, while they rounded up another flight crew (from North Carolina). That was a hellish hour. The airport was packed, and Mik was bored and tired. Not a good combination. We chased her around the airport for over an hour before we got to get on the plane. Now, she’s wide awake, having fun, bored, and tired.

Needless to say, the flights were not enjoyable. But, we made it, and we got to SeaTac on time. The rental car and luggage went as smoothly as those things ever go, and we were on our way (to temporary housing, that is).

Blogging from MS Word 2007

The beta version of Office 2007 is now out and available for public use. I’ve been using it for a few days now, and I must tell you, I totally love the new version.

One of the coolest new features is the blog integration with MS Word 2007. I am typing this entry into Word 2007 right now, and publishing to my blog is super easy.

Of course, you realize this spells the end of DeskBlogger as a development project, right? I’m not going to spend my time trying to create a tool that mimics some of the behavior of Word. I have a few friends in the Office group, and they do great work.

Download the beta, and give it a shot. I think you’ll like it.

Friday, May 19, 2006

How we got to Microsoft, Vol 2

After the house hunting trip, we didn't really have anything to do in regards to reocating. I left my previous employer on 4/28, and spent 10 days or so just hanging out with Courtney and Mikayla, catching up on some quality family time.

Around about 5/8, things started getting hectic. We did about 15 loads of laundry between the 7th and the 10th, so we wouldn't be shipping dirty clothes. We also went through all our clothes, and donated like 4 or 5 bags worth of clothing to Goodwill.

The packers showed up on 5/9, to pack the house. That took about 6-7 hours. They were very efficient. One guy packed the whole upstairs, by himself, in less than 5 hours. Hell of a feat, in my opinion. After the packers left, we had nothing to sleep on, and nothing to entertain ourselves with. We checked into a Quality Inn. It should have been Quality Lacking Inn. There wasn't anything too wrong with the room, but there wasn't really anything that right about the room either, know what I mean?

The following morning, the loading crew showed up to load our stuff into a truck. These guys were very efficient too. There were two and a half of them (three bodies, but one guy was seriously slow). They loaded everything we own into a 28' truck, except my motorcycle. Apparently, they had a paperwork mixup, and didn't know the bike was coming. I ended up riding the bike over to their warehouse (7 miles from the house). That was the most uncomfortable ride ever. I didn't have any of my gear, since it was all in a box stuffed in the truck.

Once the truck was loaded, we went up to the airport, and stayed at the Clarion on the airport grounds. We got there around 10 or so, and just collapsed into bed.

The hard stuff was finally over.

How we got to Microsoft, Vol 1

My wife and I decided to accept the offer presented by MSFT on or about March 25th. We had received the initial offer on 5/21.

The decision to accept the offer was a tough one for us. It meant leaving everything we were familiar with, and moving approximately 3,000 miles away. We moved just about as far as you can, and still be in this country at the start and end of the move.

Following our acceptance of the offer, we started talking to MSFT relo. The young woman who was assigned to help us is named Denise. Denise was/is amazing. She answered every one of my numerous questions, and was very responsive, even when I was having her paged at 9 and 10 at night.

The first step in the process is a house hunting trip. We came out to Redmond for 5 days, to look for a place to live. That was quite an experience. Housing in the Seattle area is rare, to say the least. We spent most of the 5 days looking at houses to rent, and didn't find one that met our needs.

This failure to find a home was less stressful than it might have been, since we were already set up for temporary housing, on MSFT's tab.

We left the area without a permanent home, but having fallen even more in love with the area. We were starting to get really excited about the move.

Our housing trip was in April, around the 20th or so. I was scheduled to start at MSFT on May 15th.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

New blog

Today, I started my blog on blogs.msdn.com. You can find the blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/LiveStress.

From this point forward, all entries on this blog should be considered the opinion of the authors, and in no way should they be construed as the opinions or beliefs of Microsoft Corporation.

I will continue to post personal content here, in order to keep my MSDN blog very focused on the business of building secure, reliable software (the business of building buggy, unsecure software will continue to be a major topic of this blog).

We're still alive

Folks, don't worry. We're still alive and kicking. Courtney, Mik and I are all safe in the Seattle area. We didn't have an internet connection at home until yesterday (5/17), and I just got word that our computers arrived via UPS.

Shortly, I'll post some info about our move experience, and my first few days at Microsoft.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Brain Damage and Such

It's hard to believe that we will be moving across the country in a few days. It still seems like there is so much to do. I woke up this morning still feeling incredibly dizzy and nauseous. Cullen was my white knight and let me lay in bed all day long. We were supposed to go to Georgia to visit my family for a small going away/mom's birthday party. However, being that I couldn't even sit up without heaving, we had to cancel. Mom and Dad came to pick up Mikayla and take her up there to spend some quality time with the family. When she got home, she came and gave me a big hug. God I love that little girl.

Mikayla has started picking up her own type of sign language. We thought this was awesome. We could actually communicate...or so we thought! She sticks her fingers in her ears when she wants a Q-tip. If you don't drop everything that you are doing to get her a Q-tip, she will stand at your feet repeatedly sticking both of her fingers in and out of each ear with a look of pure irritation on her face. "What? Can you not understand me? You know this means Q-tip. Get your ass up!" Granny Karen bought Mik a book a little while ago that sings to her: "Three Little Monkeys Jumping On a Bed. One Fell Off and Bumped His Head." When we would sing this to her we would bump our head with our hand (I know, I know. Parents are such idiots). It was really funny. In the middle of a conversation we would just say, "MONKEY!" and Mikayla would smack her head (kids are so entertaining!). Every now and again a monkey would be on the television, a King Kong pizza commercial, or Dora's little amigo...and again with the head smacking. What's really funny about this is that she doesn't just hit her head once. She does it 4 or 5 times. Not Softly...(am I going to hell?). We started showing her pictures of babies and kittens and puppies on Google Images. Of course, we couldn't leave out the monkeys! Then, she started seeing the laptop and would start smacking her head. At first we thought that she just wanted to see more monkey pictures, but then she didn't even care to look at them. She just wanted to pound the keyboard until it looked like the fax machine on Office Space. Hmmm...smacking head equals monkey and computer. Okay. Got It. HAHAHA! Yeah right! Last week she walked up to the sliding glass door, looked out and....you got it! She started smacking her head! We were freaking out. We thought that a gorilla had escaped from the zoo...or (even cooler) what if King Kong was hiding in the woods behind our house? No such luck. Cullen took her outside and tried to get her to show us what she was "talking" about. She pointed at the trees. Hmmm...smacking head equals monkey and computer and trees? I don't think so. I think this is just God getting back at me for playing the monkey tricks on her just to see if she would hit her head. Oh shit. Do you think that can cause brain damage?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Particles are go

I finally figured out what I was doing wrong with the particles. I'm still not happy with them, but I can see them now. I was using CustomVertex.PositionColored, since I was providing a position and a color for each particle. I wanted to use CustomVertex.TransformedColored, since I am providing screen-space coordinates for each particle. I'm guessing that the transforms from world to screen space were pushing the particles off the screen before. So, they exist, but they're ugly. I'll work on that next.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

SpaceRocks version 0.0.7

Ok, here's the latest drop.

In this release, I have added a few GUI elements (score, number of lives, level indicator), and added the concept of levels. Also, I enabled the code that allows you to have multiple lives (they were always there, I just had the game assuming only one life).

I played for about 5 minutes, and got to level 3, with like 17000 points. I quit playing then, with 3 lives left, because I was just running a test.

We're getting to the point where I could use your feedback. If you have suggestions about game play (too hard, too easy, gets hard too quickly, etc), please leave me a comment. Also, if you get a really good score, you could post it.

Here's the link again: SpaceRocks!

If you don't have it already, you'll need DirectX 9.0c.

It's not semi any more

I totally give up. I tried another approach with the particle system, and it just ain't working. I took code directly from a book I have, and put it in my app, and still no particles. I'm done.

Feature removed. I will revisit this once I get to v2, and have converted all the drawing code to meshes.