My interview on Microsoft’s JobsBlog

November 20, 2006

Last week, Priya (recruiter from Microsoft) interviewed me and posted my interview on Microsoft’s Jobsblog. It is even more great because of the fact that Priya was not my recruiter. She just met me on a brownbag meeting (jargon for informal meetings at Microsoft) and later interviewed me. This is the kind of openness that Microsoft employees have among them. Its just like a big community.

I remember another incident as well. I met a Microsoft employee at Seoul airport. On knowing that we (one of my friends was with me) are going to join Microsoft, he became really happy and even offered to drop us at our place in his car on reaching Seattle.


First Eid away from Home

October 26, 2006

On Monday (i.e. Oct 23, 2006), I celeberated my first Eid away from home. We had a breakfast after Eid Prayer and then I came to office for sometime. Then I came back and slept (perhaps I forgot to tell you that I didn’t sleep last night :P). Had a dinner with friends. That’s all :).

You can see a couple of pictures at my flickr photos. The first photo was taken Eid Prayer while second photo was taken after breakfast.

I have passed my driving test in the first go :). Though I didn’t do well in parallel parking and reversing the car  but still I managed to pass it.

Yeah I am back

October 10, 2006

I am back at blogging after almost a month. What has been happening in these days is that I moved from Pakistan to Seattle. Joined Microsoft on Oct 2nd, 2006. I still don’t have a good laptop at home (borrowed it from a friend) and have dial up Internet (yes I said dial-up). So I’m still not reading any blogs. Planning to get my laptop (and high speed internet) soon and probably things will be normalized after that.

And about being in Microsoft. Its an exciting ride so far. This Seattle/Redmond area is beautiful. Have so many good places to visit. The relocation process was very smooth. I didn’t have to worry about anything (except cooking – exceptions are always there :P). And about work. Work environment is great. People are friendly and helpful.

Me getting settled gradually. Somethings have amazed me. The communication services are very expensive here (as compared to Pakistan). Sending an International SMS costs $0.20 in US while in Pakistan it used to be $0.025. Receiving an International SMS costs $.10 here while in Pakistan it was absolutely free. Incoming was totally free in Pakistan while here they charge for incoming as well. I don’t know why is it so :(.

I have passed the Written Driving Test in the first go. Lets see what I do in the Road Test.

Lets hope that I can continue blogging 🙂

A Classical Letter about "How to React when Users Disapprove your changes"

September 17, 2006

We all know about the recent Facebook changes i.e. Mini-Feed etc which were not accepted by its users (And technically it was not a privacy issue as they were only displaying the information that was already there – they just made it more easily available). But Users are Rulers (in Web 2.0 at least).

It happens a lot of times that users simply don’t like your software. Some companies turn a deaf ear. Others respond with promises of improvements in coming versions. Some even go to the extent of “informing its users” that users don’t understand company’s vision. Some even keep on claiming that only a small number of users are against it AND their loyal customers are happy with them.

What did Facebook do. Nothing like the above mentioned “standards”.

Mark Zuckerberg accepted his mistake. He addressed his users in his blog with “Calm down. Breathe. We hear you”. It was good. But the classical Letter was yet to come and it did come.

I have read his An Open Letter from Mark Zuckerberg several times and I am impressed and fascinated by his handling of such a complex situation. True to his words, Mark has heard his users and he changed Facebook the way users wanted it to be.

A few sentences from An Open Letter from Mark Zuckerberg

“We really messed this one up.”

“We did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them. I’d like to try to correct those errors now.”

“This may sound silly, but I want to thank all of you who have written in and created groups and protested.”

All the above lines are great. Great and simply Great. He is accepting his mistake. But wait – the real Classic is in the following lines where he seems to be out of this world. Before I quote the following lines, I must say that this letter should be included before preface in every book about Software Engineering, Customer Relations etc. This guy knows how to listen to the users and to act upon what they say. 

Mark wrote

Somehow we missed this point with News Feed and Mini-Feed and we didn’t build in the proper privacy controls right away. This was a big mistake on our part, and I’m sorry for it. But apologizing isn’t enough. I wanted to make sure we did something about it, and quickly. So we have been coding nonstop for two days to get you better privacy controls

This is how you do the job right. You’ve done a mistake -> your users complained -> you accepted the mistake -> apologized -> But knowing that an apology is not enough, you worked day and night to modify it according to the user’s demands.

See how simple Real Software Engineering is !

P.S. I have never been a member of Facebook myself.

Google Earth Plus – Good but some obvious options are missing

September 13, 2006

Upgraded to Google Earth Plus (Release 4 – Beta) last week because I wanted to check out their path option.

Its good but some of the things are really annoying.

In the free version, you can use Ruler to make a path but you cannot save it. After upgrading I again made the path using Ruler and there was no option to save it. For saving a path, you should click another option called path. They should allow saving the path either way.

Why did I use Ruler to make a Path instead of clicking the path option? Well I first did try path option but it was so so unfriendly. When you use Ruler to make a path, it allows you to draw a line and navigate on map using mouse. When making the path using Path option, it allows you to draw lines with mouse but you have to navigate using keyboard.

I visited their community and someone has written there that we didn’t provide Draw-Line-and-Navigate-with-mouse in PATH option because people might have got slow computers and our software would have to decide whether user is drawing a line or navigating the map (remember this option works when you use Ruler).

Now this is funny. Ruler is available in free version (and Plus as well) but Path is available in Plus Version only (costs $20/yr). Who told them that a person who is spending $20/yr extra on their software will have slower PC than the one who use free software. Secondly, they could provide this option as a preference. Users can decide whether they want to use mouse to draw lines only or want to Draw-Line-and-Navigate-with-mouse.

Another thing. There should be an option that Path drawn with Ruler can be saved as well (in Plus Version). Its ridiculous saying that you can save path when using Path option but not when you use Ruler. The functionality is very much the same. This interoperability seems easy and very much needed.

PUCIT Reunion (First Two Batches)

September 11, 2006

Yesterday (September 10, 2006), I attended a reunion of PUCIT students (First two batches only – BCSS01 and BCSF01). I was in the second batch — so some of them were my seniors and all others were my friends. It was nice to see so many people after a year or so (Every person has a close circle of friends who keep on meeting regularly but to see all your batch-mates at one place is like going back to good old university days). It was more special for me and I will be soon leaving for Microsoft and there is a very remote chance that I could attend future reunions.

There is another thing that makes it so special. I got this idea first of all to arrange a reunion (Yes I started it). I worked so hard to make this idea a reality because I wish and hope that an annual reunion becomes a tradition (We were the first two batches of PUCIT, so we had to start this tradition). The coming reunions will be having more participants but I can always boast that I initiated this idea and 70 people came in the first reunion :).

Initiating an idea is another thing (Things are easier said than done). Implementing an idea requires team work. Rehan did a wonderful job deciding all the Food Menu and venue etc. Sir Waqar and Anzar provided their full support in opening a booking office at PUCITCS (PUCIT Computer Society). 

Kashif gave a very good description of reunion in his own unorthodox way.

Ayaz has blogged about this reunion as well. 

Aleem came to attend this all the way from Dubai. Lets see when he describes his experience. Personally I am waiting for Haroon Saeed’s remarks on this as well. Lets see what he has to say if he decides to blog about this.

It was a memorable day. You can see one of the photographs on my Flickr photos.

Crocodile Hunter died

September 4, 2006

I used to watch Animal Planet because Steve Irwin used to be on that channel. He used to excite me more than anyone else because of his passion for Crocodiles and snakes. Its very unfortunate that he died while he was filming a documentary. He was killed from venom of a stingray. He was a talented man who made it possible for us to see the wildlife while sitting in our living room. I salute him for his courage and dedication.