July 28, 2003 spout

My First .NET Show

In many ways, my list of My First” articles lately have been written out of duty to all of the developers that have always wanted to work at Microsoft, but haven’t yet been able to. I first applied for a job @ MS as a summer intern in 1988. I was turned down while another guy down the hall of my fraternity was accepted. He spent all summer building LCD panels into one giant screen and I spent all summer writing FoxPro code. I wonder if he still works here. I can’t for the life of me remember his name. David something…

Anyway, every time some new, fun, cool opportunity comes up, I feel like I have to take it just so that I can share it with the folks that don’t yet work here (seems like they’re hiring everyone, though, so it shouldn’t be much longer : ). This time, I got to be in an episode of the .NET Show. I was to be 15 minutes of code demo after Brad Abrams and Anders Hejlsberg reminded folks that .NET wasn’t just about web services. There were all kinds of folks that Robert had on tap to give the demo, but they were all busy, so eventually they got to the last monkey in the barrel and had to settle for me. : )

I flew up this morning and had to call MS information: Hi, I’m a Microsoft employee, but I’m new. Can you tell me where to go to get the MS Studios?” This in spite of the fact that I’d been there less than two weeks before! (I’m terrible at remembering anything that doesn’t have a lot of parenthesis and braces in it). They showed me to Green Room #2, where they had some food waiting, just like I was a real “talent”. Maybe the food was really for Brad and Anders. Maybe the food was for Nick Hodapp, Project Manager for Visual C++, who was in the makeup chair when I arrived. Nick was there to remind people that MS is serious about C++ both in the native and managed spaces and to show off the port of Quake II to managed C++.

While I waited my turn in the makeup chair, I watched Brad and Anders do their thing and made sure my demos worked. I was amazed that Robert never stopped the shooting while he did his interview. He did the whole thing in one take, which puts quite a burden on me to get my demo right the first time! I also spent some time eating the Green Room food, IMing my wife (she said to make sure not to use too much blue eye shadow or I’d look trashy”) and giving the makeup artist a talk on the benefits of Wi-Fi (she asked, honest!).

After Brad and Anders were through, they wandered into my makeup session. I’ve always wanted to meet the creator of C#, but not while having my eyes done… Anyway, Brad and Anders were having a debate about the merits of a new optimization of the .NET framework and it was really cool to see how practical Anders was. I don’t know why, but I imagined a guy that could come up with something as clean and simple as C# to be pretty academic. That wasn’t the case at all. His view of the debate was that he wanted to see a few uses of a proposed new feature before he even thought about including it, as opposed to judging it on the basis of it’s coolness” as can happen when engineers gather together in groups. That brief chat made me feel better about having him in charge of my favorite programming language.

After having just the right amount of blue eye shadow, I sat up on stage with Robert and Nick and my new friend Bob, who ran the entire shoot. He was like the voice of God, being only heard and not seen from his control room in the bowels of MS Studio. He and I bonded quickly as we settled into the banter of trading insults familiar amongst the wiseasses of the world (now *that* sounds like a cool domain name! : ). Robert was very causal and very smiley, very different from the seriousness he portrays on film. Nick was very polished and gave such a compelling demo of the managed C++ Quake II port that I couldn’t help but jump in and beg for more. I, on the other hand, said the word crack” and mentioned my colleague as he IM’d himself onto my computer screen, both times making Robert roll his eyes at me (off camera, I’m sure). I also went off into la la land once when I answered a question that Robert hadn’t asked, causing Nick to jump in with an answer.

All in all, having yourself filmed for posterity was pretty different from giving a talk. It was nice, because I had Nick and Robert to play off of and Robert was very good about moving things along. It was hard because, unlike a talk, there were things that I said that I wished I hadn’t merely because they are permanent. Hopefully it went over well as a whole. I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch it myself. Someone please tell me how it is when it’s published next month…