Seattle

My year in cities, 2008

This year was less crazy than last year . Nonetheless, here is a list of cities I have visited in the year 2008:

  • Seattle (+Bellevue +Redmond)
  • Traverse City, MI
  • Los Angeles
  • Las Vegas
  • Mumbai
  • Delhi
  • Kolkata
  • Fairfield, CA
  • San Francisco
  • Mountain View, CA

And of course, home snowy home:

  • Ann Arbor, MI

Here’s wishing all my dear readers a wonderful and happy new year ahead!

status update

What I’ve been up to:

  • Making new friends: Most of the MSR interns I’ve met are fun people, quite contrary to the nerdy bookworms people would imagine them to be.
  • Touring Seattle: Went out for a non-touristy tour of Seattle, visiting places including the UW arboretum, Discovery Park (Photo above) and Downtown Seattle.
  • Skydiving: Jumped out of a plane from 13,000 ft. Landed on my feet. One of the most awesome experiences in my life :)
  • Living the working man’s life: Wake up at 7, snooze the alarm till 8, drive to work, come back home, run 3 miles, watch TV, go to bed. Rinse, repeat.

And because this blog is nothing without its links:

  • Mario Kart in Javascript.
  • Learning how to do play the didjeridoo can cure sleep apnea. I don’t have apnea, but I love trying to play a didge whenever I get my hands on one. I’ve never been able to get the circular breathing right though. Curiously, I learned about this from a Gmail ad.
  • A really fun and interesting Eco Zoo website.
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First Day at Microsoft Research

And so it begins; yet another crazy summer, this time at the world’s largest Computer Science department outside of a university. Today was my first day of my internship with the Database Group at MSR. Some lessons and observations:

  • MS Recruiting is a refined and well-oiled machine. HR departments everywhere should learn from them.
  • Apparently it rains in June in Redmond. That’s ALL of June. Every single hour. So much for the picture-perfect weather I saw a couple weeks ago. As my mentor put it, “That was the demo”.
  • Seattle traffic is rather well behaved. Being a driving newbie making millions of driving-etiquette faux paus per second during rush hour would have got me into serious trouble in Michigan.
  • You will shake hands with luminaries. Many of them. In a span of 10 minutes. Try not to jump around and look like a giggling preteen.
  • This one’s important: Before you start working for Microsoft, it is advisable to at least try using Windows. Going from a life completely devoid of Internet Exploder or LookOut Express into a world where EVERYTHING carries the Microsoft logo, is not ideal for the brain. My eyes literally had trouble focusing for the first few hours. Running a Vista / Outlook / IE / Studio stack after an elegantly simple life in unix-land is like jumping from a well-oiled bicycle into the cockpit of a thundering fighter jet.
  • “Google” is not a verb. Live Search. Live Maps. Live Live Live!

life update

Was in Seattle last week. Highlights:


Microsoft Research Building (above); UofM CS Building (below)

Microsoft Research’s new building is fancier than our new department building, but our offices are much better.

Lunching at the Space Needle is worth the high price. You get to sit and eat your lunch while downtown Seattle, Mt. Rainier and the lake revolve around you. The food is good, the view is spectacular on a good day and the service is eager and efficient.


Jidori Chicken with Roasted Garlic-Mashed Potatoes, White Zinfandel

There is an On Stage interactive exhibit at The Experience Music Project that lets you pretend you are a rock star, complete with simulated audience, fully set up stage (with monitors) and instruments that play themselves. The 20$ video they took of me was a little pricey in my opinion, but if you’re going as a group, this is totally worth it.


Art installation at the EMP

photocredits: me, rob scoble, eduardod

does not use overseas labor

After seeing the WayPath project, I was beginning to like ThinkTank23 as a company. It even had a "community" link and all. Just then, I read the ending lines of their about page:

Think Tank 23 is a privately-held company with service centers in Seattle, Washington, and Denver, Colorado, and a network of U.S. based resources across the country. Think Tank does not use overseas labor.

"does not use overseas labor" - Perhaps I'm being too sensitive, but I didn't like the apparent tone of the phrase. Are they trying to imply that "overseas labor" is something lowly and inferior (the term "labor" being used for software development being a whole different matter), and that their company is superior by not using it? Perhaps not. Perhaps all they're saying is that they're doing their bit for the United States by keeping American jobs in America, and hence appealing to the prospective local clients who would prefer all-American companies.

devnagari script kiddies

This news at Linux Delhi's site made me chuckle:

Two school students, Avneesh Chhabra (15) and Shivaas Gulati (15) designed a Hindi Devanagri font for an inter-school contest. They won the event, received assurances from Microsoft that the Seattle-based company may be interested in licensing the fonts from them, and then, on 25 November 2002, decided nevertheless to publish the fonts under the freedom-based Lesser Gnu Public License (LGPL).

The Inter-School contest was MODEM 2002 - I was there to conduct a quiz. The Font Design event was being held for the first time. The objective was to make an ITRANS mapped Unicode Hindi Font and it was quite exciting to see the entries, and the approaches used. Some guys had actually scanned and vectorized Hindi characters written with pencil on paper. Some entries looked like hacks of presently available stuff.