Me

I'm a life-long technology and gadget afficiando, with penchants for business, investing, and photography. I work at Microsoft, where I am a Program Manager on SoC platforms. Everything posted here is of my own opinion, although, like everyone else, I am influenced by the people and technologies that surround me.

Welcome to randomprocess. This is my digital playground.

Blog

The 5-year Crystal

I recently passed my five (5) year employment anniversary at Microsoft, which is when one receives a crystal statue and an obligation to bring 5lbs of chocolate to share with the team. It’s also the establishment at which I’ve spent the most time, since, well, elementary school (which hardly counts, right?).

Five years is both short and long, at the same time. When turnover rates in the tech space (especially in Silicon Valley) ranges from 10-15% (annual), 5 years means I’ve likely entered the upper 50% spectrum of veteran-ness at the company. At the same time, I look at previous generations, e.g. my dad, who’s worked at the same company (albeit two very different subsidiaries) for over 25 years, and I’m still a relative pipsqueak.

Okay, so I probably have more in common with other tech-industry workers; five years is a significant period fo time in one place. However, it’s hardly been monotonous. I’ve found myself on three very different teams tackling three very diverse roles. And with the gift of hindsight, it’s clear a fortunate sequence of events led me to where I am, today.

My first year, in Office, as a typical Microsoft PM,  taught me the ways of Program Management, but at the same time, was not the most satisfying experience. Perhaps more than anything, it made me accept the risk of trying a completely different type of PM work.

When the opportunity arose to work in a partner-facing role on the Windows on ARM bring-up, for Windows 8, I had no formal hardware engineering experience, nor any history of working with external partners. In short, I had no business being there, but wanted the role desperately, as it so perfectly matched my personal interests. For whatever reason, the team took a chance on me and it was in the Windows Ecosystem team that I cultivated my love for systems engineering work.

The contacts I made in that position ultimately kept me at Microsoft. After 3.5 years, I was on the cusp of leaving, having made my mind up to try something else. But too many people suggested that I look into a secretive, upstart group for me to ignore. It helped that a PM, whom I greatly respect, recently moved into the group manager role and was willing to entertain my tight timeline. The combination of superstar foot traffic to the team and a final meeting with Alex Kipman convinced me to join, even though I was never told, at the time, the project I’d be working on (a story for another time). Of course, it turned out to be HoloLens, and both the project and people I’m surrounded by, daily, have made the risk, worthwhile.

It’s hard for me not to refer to recent articles about Amazon’s work environment; you’ve doubtlessly heard or read horror stories about Microsoft, as well, but as with most organizations, things are never uniformly bad or amazing. My experience tells me that there are extraordinarily talented teams working on massively innovative projects, impacting some of the largest user bases on the planet. It’s an organization I’m proud to be a part of.

Byte Size

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It’s getting to the end of the year and the last couple months to make changes to impact this fiscal tax year. In particular, knowing critical tax thresholds is important to making some of those financial choices (e.g. investments to divest), so here’s a handy brief from PWC for 2014.

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The first major update to the Windows 10 Tech Preview was delivered on October 21, and with it came a fix to two-finger scrolling in Internet Explorer (and other Trident-based canvases, I believe) on my HP Spectre 13t’s touchpad. Things are still in pretty good shape on both my laptop and desktop, with the Technical Preview. No deal-breakers to daily use, thus far.

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Lisa Bettany takes a comprehensive look at the iPhone’s rear-facing camera image quality comparison across scenarios, through the years. The first iPhone was average at the time, but Apple made significant improvements through the iPhone 5. Looks like the 6 brings some additional detail and noise performance enhancements.

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Maxwell – GM204 incarnation – is darned impressive, from a power, performance, and pricing perspective, all while being stuck on 28nm process, still. Been eying one of those 34″ 21:9 displays. A GTX 970 might go nicely with that!